Tools of the Trade
Writing can be great therapy, you know. All you really need is paper and pen. I prefer using a specific notebook that’s dedicated to writing your thoughts and ideas—yes, a journal, but a special one; not just any old notebook.
The pen should be special as well; something that will allow you to write fast and not stick to the page or drag along. You need to be able to write as fast as you can; as fas as you can think, preferably. I recommend Uniball Signo 207 pens as well as Pilot Precise V5 pens. If you’re looking for something a bit more stylish, you could try Space Pens.
“Why not just use my computer (tablet, etc.) to write,” you may ask. Well, you can, but there’s just something about using a pen to physically pull you in and get you involved in the whole process. It allows you to remember what you’ve written by virtue of the pen strokes. The physical act of writing is fluid, organic. Each stroke of the pen tells a story all it’s own. That’s just something you can’t get from typing keys on a keyboard that all feel the same.
Now that you have your pen and paper or notebook, you can begin.
Writing Therapy In Action
First of all you need to realize that your writing is just that…your writing. That means you don’t have to worry about the editor in your mind saying things like “What will your Mother think,” or “You aren’t using the correct grammar or punctuation,” or “You didn’t spell that last word correctly.” Have respect enough for your writing to scrap that sort of thinking from your mind when you come to the page. It belongs in the classroom, not your journal. Writing is an act of personal freedom, and you should be free to be yourself in your journal—not someone else’s vision of who you should be.
In relation to the above, you shouldn’t be editing as you go; you should be writing. This is a place for you to sort out and process your thoughts, not berate yourself for a misspelled word here and there. I find this is possibly the most valuable asset of having a journal.
I don’t have to see a psychiatrist to analyze my thought processes, ask me questions, then prescribe me some type of medication that will only glaze over the symptoms—all the while charging an arm and a leg for their “services.” In my journal, I myself am my own shrink. I can ask myself questions—and I have: once I envisioned myself as the psychiatrist and the patient and used my journal to document the possible conversation I might’ve had with myself. It’s great fun and really helps get the wheels turning in your mind.
Best of all, my journal isn’t judgmental of how I think and isn’t constantly retorting back with suggestions on why I shouldn’t be feeling the way I do. It just simply sits there and listens to everything I have to say as I pour my heart out onto the page. Sometimes the best friends you can have are a notebook and pen.
The “Latest Technology”
Once you’ve finished pouring your own heart out, you should be able to feel a sense of inner clarity; possibly even relief. Congratulations! You’ve just recorded your thoughts on paper and don’t have to worry about it “crashing”, “lagging”, or having to type in a password just to retrieve it. Your journal has been “auto-saving” your work as you’ve been writing it. It’s also “mobile” and can go wherever you go! You can access it at any time simply with the swipe of your fingers across the page. You get the idea, I’m sure.
Now the next thing to do is bask in the warmth that is total mental clarity. As David Allen says, your brain is designed to create thoughts, not hold onto them. Every once in a while it’s a good idea to come back to what you’ve written and see what progress you’ve made as a result of sorting things out.
This whole process reminds me of one of the premises of John Gray’s great book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. Basically, women use twice as many words as men on an average day, and it’s not because they want their men to fix their problems; rather, it’s because what they’re really doing is processing what’s going on in their mind by talking about it. Well, your journal has just now become the place where you’ve done this very thing, only now it’s recorded and available to you to recall at any point in time you need it.
This is why it’s an important thing to save your notebooks and journals over the years so you can always have your thoughts, insights, quotes, etc. at hand and easily retrievable at a moment’s notice. I’ve just recently gotten back into the habit of journal writing, and it’s really and truly been an absolute blessing to sort out my life as it’s happening day by day.
Tips & Tricks
- One of the best tips I can offer is to leave a couple of blank pages at the front of your journal for a Table of Contents. You can either choose to add onto it as you go or treat yourself to a read-through of your journal after you’ve completed it and write the Table of Contents as you get to each entry.
- You don’t have to write in your journal every day. Once or twice a week is sufficient. But by all means, write more if you feel like it. Just don’t feel guilty if you don’t. That’s been one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made and it’s cost me a great many priceless journal entries I’m sure.
- Feel free to change things up a bit by using different pens, markers, pencils, etc. as well as using highlighters and post-its. You can even attach your favorite clippings from newspapers, magazines, as well as quotes from desk calendars. Make your journal something FUN for you so you’ll always have a positive experience when you sit down to write and so you’ll have an incentive to keep writing.
There you have it. I hope this has helped and will help you as much as it has me over the years. Even now as I complete this entry, it has been very “therapeutic” to share with you this invaluable information as well as get it off my chest.
So please feel free to share this content with others whom you believe it will also make a difference to. But first . . . get to writing!!!
Question: What are some writing tips you’ve learned by experience? Leave a comment below and tell us all about it.