I have become a journaling fanatic. I have three now, and am considering adding a fourth to the mix. This is what I consider my sanity writing. Yes, it takes precious time that I could be using for my project. Sometimes I consider it like tithing and other times I think of it like the stretching you do before exercising so you don’t hurt yourself. Either way, it must be done. Journal writing is a time to slow down and figure out what you think. It’s a place to write where you don’t worry about the quality of your prose, you just work out your ideas and explore your feelings. I recently looked over an old journal entry and almost every sentence began with “I”. Now, at a cocktail party it would make me a bore. In a story, it would be too one-track. In my journal that day, it was what I needed to do. Other times, I may hardly mention myself at all. It doesn’t matter. It’s a place of absolute freedom.
There are the three journals I keep, and descriptions of each:
JOURNAL #1: I call this my “journal-journal”. In this book I do more of a traditional diary keeping. I recount the events of the day before. I manage my to-do lists, record my dreams. Whatever, I feel like making a record of. I like this because it is my way to unburdening my mind of my life’s concerns, freeing me up to enter the imaginary world of my fiction. (It reminds me of the Morning Pages made popular by The Artists Way) All the teeny tiny worries that eat away at my peace of mind, I leave on the page.
JOURNAL #2: I call this one my “prayer book”. In this book I write a blessing, or a prayer for another person. I like it because it gives me room to be as generous as I would like to be with no worries about lack or deprivation.When you write a prayer for another person, you can wish for her whatever you would like to see her have– be it material, emotional or spiritual. When I buy lottery tickets, I fantasize about all the charities I would fund. When I write in the prayer book, it makes me realize that when it comes to my intention— my ability to give is limitless as though I have won a lottery of sorts. I can concentrate on one person and visualize any blessings or gifts for her. It is an exercise in abundance.
JOURNAL #3: This last one is the “project journal”. In this notebook, I write down my progress from the day before, and my plans for the writing day ahead. I also use it while I am writing to take notes on things that I worry that I may forget. At the end of each week, I read over the journal with my highlighter to bring my attention to things that are important. (There is a prayer/intention/mediation dimension to this too, but I will save it for a post all by itself.)
Journal writing takes me about an hour, but it has become an essential part of my process. One I am all journaled-up, I can look at my project with a certain confidence and readiness. I feel like I have real purpose.