Journaling: My Personal Pensieve

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Today I was working on a generic post for this blog with the subject, “Why Writers Should Journal Every Day.” The topic has been done to death in the writing world, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not true. Journaling might be the most important weapon in the writing arsenal.

If you’ve written anything, I’m sure you’ve experienced the dreaded “writer’s block.” You’re staring at a blank page or screen and can’t force the ideas out. There are too many distractions.  

Life gets in the way of our work and our passions and we stress about the smallest things at the worst possible times.

I frequently find myself sitting in front of my laptop and wondering if I remembered to pay the rent. Or I text my husband to buy bananas on his way home from work. Or I worry that I’ve damaged my daughter beyond repair because she watched Despicable Me on repeat for a whole day while I worked.

These little things have a way of consuming my thoughts and preventing me from being productive. They block my ideas and swirl around inside my head, clouding my vision.

That’s when I stop what I’m doing and break out my journal. Sometimes it’s a blank Word Document, and sometimes it’s a notebook. Whatever tool I choose, I use it to write. I let the words spill out of my head and onto the page. The editor in me wants to fix them, change them, and make them make sense to others. But the writer in me knows that they only need to make sense to me.

And so I keep writing. I keep pouring my thoughts onto the page until I feel relieved of my burden of words searching for a way out.

Sometimes I choose to edit and change and cut and paste until I believe the words are ready for the rest of the world to see. But sometimes I keep them just for me. I leave them in their raw form – the words that expressed exactly who I was on that particular day. Then I tuck them away as a part of myself that I protect and keep just for me. I might go back and read them one day – or they might never be seen by human eyes again.

But those words served their purpose at the moment. They helped me articulate my feelings and express my thoughts. I said what I needed to say, and I allowed myself to feel what I needed to feel. They helped me clear my head of my worries and focus on the tasks at hand. When I’m free to write my novel or create marketing content for a client.

I can do these things well because I took the time to focus on myself and journal about the thoughts in my head. I took the time feel what I needed to feel and say what I needed to say.

When I give precedence to my own writing needs, I can gain distance. I am later given the rare opportunity to step back and look at my life from the outside. Through my own words, I am sucked into past memories or future dreams. I am pulled into stories that happened only in my head or heartbreak that was all too real.

Journaling has become my personal Pensieve. It is my lifeline to the rest of the world and the thing that allows me to gain perspective.

It’s not forced. It’s not expected or required. I don’t gain monetary compensation for putting my thoughts on the page. I write in a way that expresses my true self and connects to my most important audience – me.

If you are struggling to finish that project hanging over your head, stop thinking and put words on the page. You might be surprised at how free you feel and how productive you become.

 

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