Q: Why are writers always cold?
A: They're surrounded by drafts!
Writer's humor, I know, but if you are reading this, chances are you have an interest in writing on some level. Journaling is a great place to start. It's something I've done for decades and continue to do nearly every day.
When people hear that I journal as often and frequently as I do, they ask all kinds of interesting questions.
Well, if you're at all curious about journaling and the answers to these questions, stick around. I'm happy to share. If you don't journal already, hopefully, inspiration will stir.
My journaling has evolved over four decades. When I was young, I remember buying a diary with a sturdy gold lock. It was fabulous. Not only did it have a pretty pink cover and itty-bitty key, but it also protected my secrets! My diary and I were one.
Here's the funny thing. I didn't have secrets. As a child, I remember feeling disappointed with that realization. I figured my life wasn't that great because those exciting, confidential experiences did not exist. Likely, I wrote on three pages and then stopped - for years.
Through high school and college, I attempted to journal time and time again. There was a part of me that wanted to put my life, experiences, and thoughts down on paper. The idea was appealing. During these stages, a typical page would start with things like, "So. Today's Wednesday. I had every intention of going to zero period study hall, but sleeping for 30 minutes longer at 6:00 am sounded so much better. It's no wonder my chemistry grade is so low."
That type of journaling was dissatisfying. It felt like a chore and a tedious chore at that. It didn't last long. However, I loved buying new journals even if only the first ten pages were ever completed.
Once I began teaching, I started to question the why around writing in general. Shouldn't writing have an objective? What reason did I have for journaling? The thought that kept emerging was that I wanted to understand my place and purpose in this world. That meant I had to get the ideas out of my head and into a space where I could sift through them.
This was a lightbulb moment for me. All of my prior experiences with journaling were about recording a history that lacked intrigue and interest. A new idea sparked. What if I journaled about the present - and even the future?!
So, most mornings, I spent 20-30 minutes writing in my journal as if I were writing a letter to God. My pen would scribe, "Good morning, God," and gratitude filled my mind. This felt great! My intention was to connect with my Creator, and I followed this model for years.
Good morning, God,
What a gorgeous morning. Thank you for a new day. Thank you for the fresh coffee and quiet time! I'm looking forward to what you have in store for me.
Typically, weather permitting, I'd sit outside on our front porch. I would write down the day's devotion/scripture. With curiosity and honesty, I would think about how it pertained to my day, life, family, or friends. I would also fill the pages with my prayer requests, both personally and for others. The parts of life that I did not understand or thought were unfair spilled out and into my journal. It was a catchall. For me, it was excellent and inexpensive therapy.
A few years ago, Brooke Castillo entered the scene, and my journaling expanded. She created "the model" and started the business, The Life Coach School. She taught me that our thoughts create our feelings. Those same feelings drive our actions. Ultimately, our actions determine the results we have in our lives. So, since all thoughts are optional, why not pick the ones that bring the desired results we want? Simple. It's psychology 101 but taught in a way that continues to make perfect sense to my brain. Profound!
Last year, I was introduced to another brilliant mind, Dr. Caroline Leaf. She's a neuroscientist who takes metacognitive neuropsychology to a whole new level!
Now many mornings include daily thought downloads too. Using what I've learned from these two remarkable women, I think about my thinking every day. Journaling ensures I take notice of the activity going on in my head.
Neuroscientists thought humans had over 50,000 thoughts per day. The most recent studies say it's more like 6,000 thoughts per day for an average adult. That's still a lot of thinking. We should pay attention.
All in all, my journaling experience has taught me the majority of my thoughts are unintentionally stalling my progress, stunting my intellectual growth, and stifling my potential. If I don't pay attention and grab those thoughts and hold them captive, they will waltz around in my head all day - stalling, stunting, and stifling me.
It would be fantastic if my thoughts were all positive, encouraging, and helpful. The fact is they are a 50/50 mix, and that's normal. My journaling has taught me this first hand.
The human brain is remarkable. Looking at mine daily with a magnifying glass in hand helps me manage it much better. I can successfully change unintentional thoughts into intentional, productive, kind, and encouraging ones with work and practice. Journaling has, in fact, brightened my future.
Journaling keeps me grounded, focused, and feeling empowered. If those are things you'd like to enjoy in your life, I wholeheartedly encourage you to find a journal that fits your personality.
Today, many journals fill my shelves. And, no, they are not locked away or forbidden to touch. Someday, long after I'm gone, my children or grandchildren may want to read them. I hope they do. My journals will keep my thoughts and memories alive. What a wonderful purpose they serve.
Melissa Webb is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
Author: Melissa Webb
CA Credentialed Teacher