It’s been a while since I’ve written about writing. Yet it never strays far from the centre of my life and continues to feature in my work even when it isn’t the end game for soul-inspired professionals going through change.
Today I feel called to share my experience of arriving on the next arc of the journaling spiral.
It’s a powerful technique, especially during phases of deep transformation such as navigating a healing journey, changing the direction of your work and/or beginning a new phase of your life.
These are all relevant for me right now!
A Foundational Practice
Research shows that journaling is a valuable way to manage stress, boost creativity and enhance physical, emotional and psychological well-being.
It’s a foundational practice of the conscious approach to writing, living and leadership I’m wholeheartedly committed to.
Simply put, this is because it genuinely makes a difference to the process you go through and to the outcome(s) you experience.
Awareness and Appreciation
Recently I’ve been reminded of two specifics that journaling supports:
1. Developing awareness: the more you write about what’s going on for you, the greater your tendency to notice the details you might previously have missed.
When you add conscious intention to this aspect of journaling, you naturally become more aware and more present.
Being present enables you to be less reactive in challenging situations and more capable of making conscious choices about how to respond to others or take action skilfully.
2. Enhancing appreciation: keeping a gratitude journal to “count your blessings” has become popular since gratitude was shown to have a direct correlation to happiness.
Gratitude is an immensely positive and expansive state of being that can become your default setting even when you’re going through intense change.
Yet if it feels elusive, you can shift your focus slightly and write about one small thing you appreciate such as a cool drink on a hot day; then build up from there.
Until You Feel Done
My natural inclination when I pick up my journal is to use stream of consciousness free writing and allow whatever shows up on the page to flow for as long as it needs to.
Sometimes this takes just 5 or 10 minutes.
At other times I spend 30 minutes or more downloading my thoughts and feelings until I feel “done”; complete – for now.
Five Minute Sprint
However, there’s a whole range of journaling techniques to fit your individual preferences and the circumstances you find yourself in at any given moment of time.
If you’re short of time or energy, you might like to try a Five Minute Sprint, for example, which is one of the simple but effective techniques on the Journal Ladder developed by Kathleen Adams:*
- Set a timer for five minutes and write without stopping about something central in your life.
- Silently read what you’ve written; then complete this sentence, “As I read this, I notice…”
You may well be surprised by the results of just five minutes of intentionally focused writing.
Validate the Process
Whatever approach you adopt, it’s worth remembering that writing about what’s going on for you is fundamentally an end in its own right.
By all means review what you’ve written once a week to mine your self-expression for highlights relating to realizations and breakthroughs if that feels relevant.
However, you don’t have to come up with amazing insights or innovative solutions to validate the process because the simple act of putting words on the page naturally shifts your perspective.
As William Wordsworth so delightfully summarised, all you need to do is “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”
Read my previous posts on journaling here:
* For more information about Kathleen (Kay) Adams pioneering work, visit the Center for Journal Therapy.