Do you journal?
I have in the past, and I currently am doing some journaling. But I’ve never been one to sit down daily and record my thoughts. (I say as I type on my blog… the irony does not escape me)
I’ve worked through The Artist’s Way a couple times. Journaling, in the form of Morning Pages, is central to Julia Cameron’s process. Morning Pages are three pages of stream-of-conscious thought written before doing anything else in the morning. The idea is that your subconscious mind is still at play if you’re not entirely awake, and you can work through mental blocks that are stifling creativity.
The Morning Pages approach is interesting. When I make it a habit, I do find that it opens creative channels. It also makes me sleepy; in order to stream-of-conscious journal every morning, I have to force myself awake before anyone else in the family is up. That means getting up at 5:00 AM. There’s only so long I can take waking up that early. After a few months, I end up resenting the process itself.
Most of my journaling outside of Morning Pages has been a way to work through difficult thoughts or emotions. It’s always been a bit of a negative process. I would turn to a journal when I was angry, depressed or anxious. It was a method for venting frustrations and conflict without inflicting myself upon others. As such, I’ve burned a good number of journal pages to rid my life from their very presence.
Because of my life-long association of journaling = struggle, I have a difficult time with all of these “experts” who give the advice of daily journaling as a path to peace, inner calm and universal enlightenment.
A few days ago, I came across 30 Journaling Prompts for Self-Reflection and Self-Discovery on the Psych Central site. The prompts are, on the whole, positive in focus and centered on self-discovery.
With the stress of the last couple months, I’ve felt the desire to journal… but I know from past experiences that my flawed approach to journaling leads mostly to dwelling on negative thoughts. The above link was an ‘ah-hah’ moment for me.
I’m not journaling daily, because I just don’t have that kind of free time. But every couple days, I’ve been grabbing one of those prompts (in order) and jotting down my thoughts. So far, it’s been a rather positive and freeing exercise.
My question to you is, do you journal? If so, is it a positive experience, or negative venting? Both? Do you have any techniques or prompts you enjoy using? I’d love to know!