As a blogger, freelance writer, and fiction writer, I spend a lot of time in front of my computer. Since so much of my time is spent staring at a screen, I relish those times when I get to disconnect. One way that I build non-screen time into each of my days is to set aside time to write in my journal.
Journaling to me is actually writing long-hand in a notebook, not typing on my phone or my computer. I started journaling consistently several years ago, and it helps me organize my thoughts, slow down my brain, and disconnect from the constant buzz of social media. It’s also where I find a lot of my blogging ideas.
Why did I start journaling?
I first started journaling consistently 3 years ago. Needing some intellectual stimulation, I took a Community Education fiction writing class at a local college. Our teacher suggested we at least read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and try writing what Cameron calls “morning pages.” The morning pages require one to write 3 full pages of stream of consciousness first thing in the morning. No brushing teeth or making coffee, head straight to the page.
Honestly, journaling had never really worked for me before, but as I made time for the 3-page set every morning (or afternoon, or evening if I didn’t get around to it), I felt my thoughts become clearer and my day held a different cadence. I had an achievable goal I could reach every day, and getting that done early felt like a huge accomplishment!
Why a journal works for me
So here I am, a freelance writer who charges for her time, spending a precious half hour each morning just writing down whatever comes to mind. Why would I do that?
The answer is pretty simple. I’m not just a content-generation machine. I’m also a person. I have thoughts about life and working and the struggles to make it on my own. I have silly thoughts and mean thoughts and boring thoughts, but if I can get a lot of those out of my head in the early morning, my brain feels clearer and more able to take on the work of the day.
Also, when I’m working out a problem, whether it’s in my fiction or a blog I’m working on, writing long-hand can allow me to start connecting the dots in a way that typing and talking don’t. I don’t remember anything that I don’t write down, so journaling in the morning helps me start to comb through the millions of tasks I have to do that day and pick out the most important or problematic. I also have a written record of those ideas that come to me during my writing. I’m not much of a “shower idea” person, but I am definitely a journal idea person, which is great because I can just go back and look at it later.
Creation is half the fun
There is also a lot to be said for just doing something that is purely creative, without feeling like I have to put it out there someplace. My journal will never be published (I hope), and those thoughts and feelings and drawings in there belong to me. I journal for me, not for my husband, my clients, or my tens of adoring readers. And that makes a big difference.