|Mix a martini, don't forget the olives, or pour yourself a
tea, relax and enjoy!
There are no hard-set rules for keeping a journal. How often
you write, time you spend, and how rigorously you maintain a
regular journaling schedule are matters of personal choice
and circumstance. Therefore, it is important to find what
works for you. Here are nine guidelines to assist you.
1. Allow for regular writing times. Find a time of day that
works well for you and use this time every day. As much as
possible, control interruptions during this time.
2. Give yourself an inviting writing environment. If you
need quiet space, find a time that you can write without
noise and interruption. If the hum of the world around you
is soothing rather than distracting, plan to write during a
time when other people will be engaged in their own work and
not looking over your shoulder.
3. Develop a centering ritual. Associating journaling with
another pleasurable habit can guide to strengthen the
routine and create an atmosphere of self-nurturing. When you
are ready to write in your journal, consider pouring
yourself a cup of tea or coffee. Play relaxing music. Take a
moment for meditation, deep breathing, or prayer.
4. Prompt your writing with a routine self-reflection
question: Triggers such as "What are you feeling right now?"
or "What's on your mind?" Anais Nin suggests asking "what
feels vivid, warm, or near to you at the moment?"
5. Write because you desire to write, because you know itís
a comfortable place to be you. Don't allow journaling to
become an obligation or chore. Remember not to demand more
of yourself than you can give. If you have missed a day, or
several days, accept that journaling, like life, is
imperfect and go on. Write the next time you have a chance.
6. Create a positive feedback loop. As you continue to use
the journal as an opportunity to be with and learn about
yourself, you will find that the practice gains a momentum
all its own. Discovering your own hidden depths piques your
curiosity and stimulates you to continue, setting up a
positive feedback loop between your conscious and
7. Emphasize process rather than product. An important
purpose of journal writing is simply expressing and
recording your thoughts and feelings. Concentrate on the
process of writing -- keeping the flow of words rather than
worrying about the result. If your goal is to have specific
audiences read your piece, go back to it later and edit it.
Use your journal as the raw material for more polished
8. Learn from your own experiences. It is always good to
reread your entries a month or so down the road. It
demonstrates your growth -- a nice pat on the back for all
of us. Look for patterns and correlations. What improved,
what stayed the same? Learning from yourself is so much
more gentler on the self-esteem. Use objectivity to review
your life from a different perspective with hindsight.
Relax, have fun, and don't forget to laugh! Journal writing
is its own reward. Once you get started, your journal will
become another one of your good friends -- one who is always
available and never presents a deafening ear. Your journal
loves you for being you.
About the author:
Catherine Franz has taught journaling for the last 15 years,
including two US Presidents and First Ladies, and hundreds
of workshops internationally. She currently has two
informational documents available on journaling at:
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