Just before Christmas of last year, I received a book-shaped gift from my sister living overseas. I’m the big reader of the family so I assumed I’d be adding it to the pile of ‘maybe later’ books. However, I was pleasantly surprised by my first journal. As an aspiring writer, a journal was the perfect gift. But the pages that were soon filled became more than just practice in prose. Keeping a journal became the canvas for my thoughts; the physical embodiment of my biggest hopes, fears, and thoughts.
Keeping A Journal: An Emotional and Mental Getaway
Although difficult to channel my thoughts directly at first, I found I could easily babble on for at least 300-500 words per day. The important thing here is that I babbled. I did not contain myself to the restraints of public non-fiction, nor did I stuff the paragraphs with buzzwords and adjectives. I wrote for me and me alone. This babbling brought to the forefront of my mind the things that were bothering me most. And, in the depths of my psyche, I found my complex anxieties and fears for the future.
I was keeping a journal of my thoughts at a time of weakness. A year of career failure, social regression, and serious heartbreak without reflection was becoming an unbearable burden. But once I moved thought from pen to page I could see, and reason, and work through my trouble. My journal had become my own personal counsellor and my sanctuary from the mundane world where true feelings or thoughts are rarely expressed. Within months I came to know a side of me I never knew existed. Writing daily was like talking daily, to myself. The deeper I dived and the more I unravelled, the more I learned. And the more I came to know the person that matters most: me.
Now It’s Your Turn
Keeping a journal for me was a place to publish my honest reflections. I still occasionally return to those pages, either to revisit old thoughts or to formulate the future. But without that daily writing for months on end I would have never come to know myself as I do now. I would be unable to define my past, present, or future.
I’ve discussed the benefits journaling has had in my life, and science agrees. A Cambridge study shows that 15-20 minutes of daily writing can seriously assist in the emotional recovery of those who have suffered from traumatic events. Constant thinking and judging an event or emotion in our heads is self-deprecation. But if we leave it on the page, if we make it physical, then we can come to know ourselves and push forward.
You don’t have to be a professional writer to get started. Just you, a pen, and a blank sheet of paper. It’s intimidating at first, and like meditation, will be uncomfortable the first few goes. But keep coming back. Keep the thoughts flowing and soon enough your mind will begin to feel lighter and you’ll know yourself a little better each day. Happy writing.
Visually appealing and simple journals can be found at The Journal Shop.
For the classier types, uSchA offers some excellent leather-bound books.
By Jay Bowden