That seems like a no-brainer when it comes to writing down what you think, doesn’t it? But how free ARE you when it comes to journaling? There are three things we can do, I think, to help us just be ourselves as we put our thoughts down on paper:
- Guard our privacy
- Forget about perfection
- Prime the pump
Guarding our privacy.
Some people feel the need to actually put a note in the front of their journal saying the contents are private and confidential. That’s no guarantee, of course, that someone won’t still read it if they run across it, but it’s worth a shot. Drollery keeps his journal in the drawer of the living room sofa table. I’ve never even thought about getting it out and reading it. And mine is always beside my chair in the living room. But to leave them lying about like that takes an enormous amount a trust. So for some people keeping it out of sight is a better answer.
The thing is, if we can’t be certain of our privacy, the first thing that’s going to happen is we’re going to censor ourselves as we write. Even the smallest attempts at censorship can backfire later. I went through a period where I thought I didn’t want to use folks names, at least full names, in my writing. So I’d use either just initials or first name and initial (Sue T.). Thing is when I went back to reread a couple of them a few years ago, I had no bloomin’ idea who I was talking about in a couple places. I never did THAT again!
That being said, you may feel more comfortable if you come up with a coded language. Who knows what that might be, but if that’s what it takes to make you feel more free when you write, then go for it.
One other thing. You may want to decide what’s to become of your journals after you pass away. Will you care at that point whether others read what you wrote about them? (And if you’re not writing SCATHING comments about folks or situations from time to time then maybe you’re not feeling as free as you thought. I’ve been considering that myself.) Do you NOT want to start WWIII in your family by revealing someone else’s secrets? Things to think about. My PIC Amy will probably end up with mine — to burn!. 😀
Are you a perfectionist?
This is a biggie for me and can make journaling a chore if I give into it. I’ve found that I MUST repeatedly give myself permission to write “crappy.” Or to write a “bunch of crap” for that matter.
I tell myself it’s ok to misspell words and NOT go back and correct them. Does it drive you crazy to scratch a word out in your journal and not cover it with White-Out? Better work on that! Does it bug you to punctuate incorrectly or skip punctuation altogether? Do you insist on using good grammar? Does your handwriting get messy depending on how mad you are? Or does it slant right off the page? (That’s why I use lined paper.) How about incomplete sentences? I LOVE incomplete sentences! Saves time. The best kind of journaling — in my opinion — is when I write exactly the way I talk. Then it feels natural to me and I’m a lot less concerned with all the little mechanical things.
All of these little things can drive you to distraction and then you never get your thoughts down on paper. I know for myself I have to work constantly at remember it’s ok for my journal not to be perfect just as it’s ok for ME not to be perfect. Having to be perfect will suck all the life out of your words.
Priming the pump.
There are times when I’m just madder than hell about something and I grab my journal and start ranting. I can go on for an hour. Or I can be trying to reason through something and need to get every thought I have down on paper. Then there are the days when I just feel I SHOULD be writing so I make myself do it. And those entries are always short and meaningless for the most part.
So what do I do to prime the writing pump? The main thing for me is to scribble notes somewhere about what I need to journal about. Things I don’t want to forget. I do that in the margins of my journal or in another little notebook I carry in my purse. But often I have no notes. That’s when “free association” writing comes in handy.
If you can’t think of anything to write about and you’re really feeling the urge to write, take five or ten minutes and just start writing about whatever comes to your mind. Doesn’t have to be in your journal. Any old notebook will do. But nine times out of ten when I do that I stumble across something I DO feel inclined to write about. If I don’t, then I don’t write for that day. Simple as that. My journaling schedule is definitely NOT written in stone.
Well, those are just some things that come to mind about how to be ME and feel relaxed when I’m writing. How about you? Do you have more tricks of the trade up your sleeves? How do you keep your journal private? Or do you? Are you a perfectionist who has to take the time to fix everything? What do you do when you find yourself stuck in a rut and don’t know what to write about? Do you feel like you can just be YOU when you write, or is that a freedom you’ve never experienced?
Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments. Or if you find you have a lot to say, I invite you to do so on your own blog and pingback to this post.
“The greatest thing in the world
is for a person to know
how to be oneself.”
— Michel De Montaigne
“As soon as you trust yourself
you will know how to live.”
— Johann Wolfgang Van Goethe