Every time I visit the Ranch, I am struck by the varieties of human energy that surround me and the openness of the guests to experiencing their lives anew. As a result, those who attend my journal writing workshops invariably surprise themselves with what they express on the page and what they find out about themselves.
So I’ve compiled a few tips that can lead to this creative expression in anyone’s journal. Here goes:
1. There are no rules.
You don’t have to write everyday. A journal can be like a good friend to whom you speak every so often, but when you do, you pick up right where you left off, with an open heart.
Grammar doesn’t matter. The journal is for your eyes only, unless you choose to share it.
2. There are two rules
Date every entry so that you can track the events and moods of your life.
Kill the internal editor. Write fast, don’t cross out, correct or edit. The flow of your writing will be more authentic, and you will find that you are a better writer than you think you are if you don’t self-correct and stop the flow.
3. Three experiments—take a few deep breaths before you begin.
Try free writing. Set a non-ticking timer for five or ten minutes, put pen to paper and write until the timer goes off. Don’t think, just write. You can begin by writing how stupid you think this exercise is, but I promise you that by the end of the time, you will have come to a subject that engages you. You may even feel that the timer has gone off too soon. You may open up topics you would like to explore further.
Make a long list. Try making a long list headed by a declaration such as “I desire,” or “Fifty things I’d like to hear someone say to me,” or “What I want in a partner.” Once you have your focus, write quickly for ten minutes and get as many items as possible on your list. When you stop, review the list and see if there is a theme running through it. There probably will be and use that theme to make a more conscious journal entry.
Start a dialogue. Use your journal to write a conversation between you and someone with whom you are trying to resolve a relationship. Start with your statement, write quickly and let the other voice speak. Continue the back and forth in dialogue form until you come to a logical stopping place. Acknowledge what you’ve learned.
A journal can unlock your intuition and creativity. Prove this to yourself by picking up a pen and writing!
Rita D. Jacobs’ book The Way In: Journal Writing for Self-Discovery is available on Amazon and a series of articles titled “From Journal to Memoir” can be found online at https://www.signature-reads.com/tag/from-journal-to-memoir/ A Facebook page for The Way In provides weekly writing prompts. You can also find her at www.ritadjacobs.com