What is Journaling 101? A blog for journalers, writers, and people who want to get in touch with the most fascinating person in the world – themselves!
I have been journaling for over 45 years now and since the day I began, I have been intrigued by the fact that I never run out of things to write about! I was sure that if this habit was so powerful for me, everyone else would want to journal too. So, I invited some friends into my living room and we began writing and sharing. Then I left my living room and began to share my love of journaling with larger audiences and groups. Many, many times people have come up to me and I can feel the excitement washing over them as they begin to journal and learn more about themselves and the world around them. And I love to be part of that feeling!
One of the biggest hurdles some people face as they begin journaling is that they start off like a rocket and then often forget to put journaling on their schedule. Journaling is not necessarily keeping a “diary” but it is also not writing chapter and verse either. I know some journalers who write intermittently and others who faithfully write daily. There is no “right” way. There is only your way.
One reader wrote to me after reading my book Journaling For Joy, that the best part of reading the book and her start in journaling was that “I had introduced her to herself.”
What a wonderful adventure! Learn who you are by letting yourself tell you! So grab your pen and journal and join with me to be true to who you are!
Read the questions, or tips and then let your thoughts flow and write to capture whatever comes into your mind! Sound fun? It is!
In joy, Joyce
To begin…Ask Yourself:
What do I think/feel, right now about keeping a journal and what would I like journaling to do for me?
Why do I want to keep a journal?
What do I want my journaling habits to be?
What kind of journal or computer program do I want to use, and why?
After you have answered the first questions you might like to continue by keeping A Daily Log
One of the techniques that I practiced when I first started to journal was to keep a daily log.
Today I know that this technique is one of the reasons I quickly realized the value of paying serious attention to my life. By recording my life in my daily log, I found that I was the person in charge of what I really wanted in my life. I was becoming much more aware of “being the main character” in my life. (Now this may sound strange to some of you but the truth is I was allowing my life to…just happen most of the time. And I was really excited to reflect at the end of each day and write in my daily log what did or didn’t happen. I could and would be more awake and aware. It was time for me to live in choice!)
Keeping a daily log is very much like the “Dear Diary” journaling that most of us have done in our journals and diaries throughout our lives. Are you saying, “I know I already do this, or I do write every day about my day, or…Well, I’m suggesting…let’s all do this for several weeks and notice if anything shifts or changes because of committing to the “daily-ness” of practicing a habit.
So…every day during this month of January sit down daily, open your journal, write the date, a record your day. Remember this is your log so you can write one word, one line, or pages and pages. Then as always, I suggest to, reread and give yourself some “feedback” or a new journaling assignment you want to do.
If this is a new practice for you here are a few tips: Close your eyes and visualize the day. Ask yourself some questions to spark your memory. Questions like: If I titled my day, today, how would I title it? What did I do first this morning? Was I looking forward to my day? Who were the people in my life today? How did I feel in the late afternoon? What was my evening like? What was the best part of my day, why? What would I have liked to change? Is today a day I’d like to repeat? Why, or why not? What do I want to remember from living my life today?
During the month of February let’s talk about keeping other logs to keep. Here’s a section* from Chapter 2 in Journaling For Joy that will get you started :
*KEEPING A LOG FOR EVERY OCCASION
How can I know myself?” people often ask when they begin on their self-discovery process. They may be acute observers of others, but they do not direct their attention onto observing themselves. When I taught young children, I would tell them jokingly, “Your ticket to come in tomorrow will be to know what color your mom’s eyes are. All who know their telephone numbers will get their names added to the I Know list.” I would encourage them to become aware of the world around them. And, of course, they would laugh and come to school knowing more than they knew the day before-also more lively and more involved in their life.
One of the simplest ways to observe yourself is by keeping a log, or a simple list recording the details you’re interested in knowing more about. When you choose to be more aware, follow through with a concrete action: set the facts and figures down in black and white before you. What are you dissatisfied with? What do you feel unfulfilled about? What area would you like to assume more control over? What feeling or experience do you want to increase in your life? Make a log, and begin recording the raw data you will have to work with.
Author George F. Simons in his book Keeping Your Personal Journal, recommends asking, “If I could take a souvenir or memento from today, what would it be?” and “Is there something I would like to say to each person who entered my day in some form?” Wonderful learning can come from recording the activities and thoughts and events of one single day:
- Want to become more positive? Log your negative thoughts and words for a day. Then write what your learning is from what you have observed.
- Log your accomplishments for a week, and then write a Feedback Statement.
- Keep a log of your frustrations during a day at the office or at home. Then write what you can learn from what you have written.
- Want to learn to communicate more effectively? Keep a log of your communications for a day, and then write yourself a Feedback Statement.
- What’s bugging you? Keep a log for a day, and then write your conclusions and recommendations to yourself.
- Your body is acting up again? Keep a record of your symptoms for a day or a week, noting alongside each what else was going on in your life at that time. At the end, write what learning is available from this record. Then keep another log: of times your body feels wonderful!
- Keep a record of your loving encounters for a day or two: what message comes through your writing?
- Want to learn to be more assertive? Keep a log of your interactions for a day. Ask yourself, “Did I say what I felt, wanted, needed? Or did I say, `What’s the use?’ or ‘Who cares.” What difference does it make?‘ “
- Low self-esteem? Keep a log for a day of thoughts and interactions that raised and lowered your self-esteem. What is the learning there?
- Is self-awareness an issue for you? Keep a log for a day of your state of energy, moment to moment. Write a Feedback Statement about what your observations say to you.
- Keep a log of your feelings for a day. What do you conclude? Write about your learning. If there is a feeling you want to increase in your life, keep a log of the times you experience this feeling. Is your life too bland? Keep a log of times you experience passion. Summarize your conclusions.
In a brainstorming session, I once encouraged participants to list every kind of log they had ever used or would like to use. The list covered an entire wall. You could think of an infinite number of ideas for logging. If you keep a log of what you did in your garden this year and how it turned out, you could improve your garden next year. If you have a weight problem and cannot remember what you have eaten today, you might want to start a food log. If you want to increase your exercise, how about an exercise log?—give yourself gold stars! If you want to recapture the romance in your relationship, begin a romance log.
If you want to find out what’s going on in your life that causes you so much conflict, keep a conflict log. Were you criticized? Did someone take something you wanted? Were you unable to do what you wanted? Were you unappreciated? List these incidents, what the issue was, who was involved, and what you wanted. When conflicts persist, they can turn into complaining, gossip, and symptoms of physical illness. Your conflict log will lead you to root out the causes of conflict. When you keep this log, action will follow to resolve the problem.
Do you have habits you would like to change? Catch yourself substituting new behaviors, and keep a log of what you did. Keep a phone log, to find out how much time you spend on the phone, and with whom. Keep a log of addictive behaviors, and the thoughts and feelings that preceded them each time. Note and write down any judgmental and critical remarks, and the effects they produced. Log your mistakes and what you learned from them. And how about a log of “Erase Its”—what you would like to be able to erase from the day (that second brownie, those harsh words with a loved one, the job left undone). Then try logging your wins, your successes, your accomplishments.
As you look over a log, you will begin to notice patterns and see relationships between thoughts, feelings, and actions. By becoming the observer, you then become the planner, the designer, the critiquer, and the organizer. Logging captures the details that point to a powerful realization: Aha! I’m in charge of my life! I create my own mental environment. Logging is a great self-empowerment tool.
The technique tips for March are all from Chapter 3 in Journaling For Joy,“Snapshots of Your Life…An Album of Memories”
I love talking with people who say, I want to write my life story. Then the next sentence is often, Where should I start? If you are one of those who want, and are ready, to recapture your life experiences on paper, let’s begin!
This first week of March start off by making a list or use what I call making a cluster design, of memories you can easily recall. You may find yourself thinking of a time in your childhood… that was a joyful memory, or something that you would rather not remember, or meeting a person that has impacted you, and so much more! This first writing is going to help you write that Life Story you say you want to write.
Did you remember lots of memories from last week? This week take time to add to those lists! Dig out some of your old photos and start going through them, When one really “speaks” to you, think of a title for that life experience and add to this growing collection…of memories you want to put into words!
My guess is that ideas, past experiences and events are… wanting to be written down. If this is true, then another easy way to expand these memories is to make a list of the characters in your stories. Then, next week we’ll build on this step!
What did you discover last week by making your list about the different people in your life? This week review your list and ask yourself: Do I want to include some of these people in my life stories? Then set aside time to begin capturing these memories!
You have really just begun even if you followed all this month’s suggestions. So, my invitation to you is to continue to write your stories! As you write please remember “Life is an adventure. By opening up the album of stored memories, you allow yourself to re-create, rethink, and recapture the valuable thoughts and precious feeling you may have missed along the way.”
The technique tips for April are all from Chapter 4, Listing Your Life, in my Journaling For Joy book.
Making lists is so much a part of most people’s lives that you may be thinking, is making a list really a method, to be used as a journaling technique?
I love talking about all the possible lists to write in my journal. (In fact, I have a section in Chapter 4 titled, Listing Your Life in my Journaling For Joy book. )
So…let all begin this first week in April, by writing a list of lists…that you know you want to make.
After you’ve written some lists you know you want to write, take some time to review and when you are ready to write, answer this question: What have I discovered so far by making a list of lists? Then, get started by choosing one or more of the lists to begin using this technique to explore and understand how list-making can lead you to your next journaling step or assignment.
As you can likely guess, I am passionate about living true to what I say I want, so one list I’d like to recommend …if you haven’t already written it is: To make a list of what you want. Reread that list and circle what you are willing to commit to bringing into reality. These lists will very likely lead to lots of other lists. (If you want some that I often recommend, please email me to send you a list!)
Another idea for you is to make a list to discover, and sometimes rediscover who you are, which is a very valuable habit. A great place to start is to examine what your beliefs are…for the basic areas of your life. Ask yourself, “What do I believe about realizing my dreams…my: future, family, health, relationships, money; and so much more. (This is not a one-time journaling experience…it is going to be a life-time adventure into yourself!)
Share With Me!
Imagine a world where journaling is popular and is a tool used to achieve inner peace, self-discovery and to encourage embracing peace on Earth! If you would like a journaling tip to help you figure out what is next, have a question you’d like to ask me, share a journaling experience/entry, please send me a message or questions on my website http://joycechapman.com/contact/ I will reply right away.