Happy Friday #31: On Journaling

12:00:00 AM

Journaling seems to be a topic that has been poking it's head around the general public as of late. In modern times,  what has once considered an embarrassing admission of teenage angst, is now gaining acceptance as a tool not only for the creative mind, but for one's mental health. Today I thought I would cover not only my personal journey, but a few instances where I found the topic of journaling covered, from a psychological standpoint, to words of wisdom from creative souls.

For me, my deepening interest on the subject came when, in an almost embarrassed demeanor an acquaintance mentioned she hadn't written in a journal since her teenage years. Personally I had only kept a journal briefly during those precarious times, when I was gifted my first real diary at the age of 16. As I wrote maybe a handful of entries of the whoa's of my 16 yr. old self, I began to wonder if I had anything worth talking about and then when I did, if anyone would read it. Hence the journaling quickly ended.

I again picked it up in my late 20's. I was re-introduced to the topic by the well known books, "The Artist Way" and "Writing the Bones".  Both books basically advocate writing on a regular bases in order to clear the mind and jump start the creative process. This would have to be the first time in my life where I kept a journal for an extensive period of time, however this too came and went as a practice in my daily life.

As I sat there and thought about why it never really stuck, a few things came to mind. The ease of technology, the societal belief that it is a useless pass time, page fright, the belief that one doesn't have anything interesting to say, and/or the simple fear of being discovered.

The other day I came across an interesting interview about the singer Stevie Nicks and a young band called Haim. In it, she imparts words of wisdom to the young musicians, one being the importance of the written journal...

“You want your journals written by hand in a book, because someday, if you have daughters — I don’t have daughters, but I have fairy goddaughters, thousands of them — all of these books are gonna go to them, and they’re gonna sit around just like we are now, and they’re gonna read them out loud, and they’re going to be able to know what my life was.” Then, pointedly, to Este: “And they’re not gonna find it in your phone.” -Stevie Nicks

Many a times I hear, and honestly felt myself, that I do not lead an interesting enough life. Not enough to warrant writing about anyways...  To that I would have to say and remind myself, a lot of things happen in a day that is taken for granted. From the clothes you wear, to the interactions you have on a daily bases, it is the slice of life that is uniquely yours.

As many of you know, whether I wrote or not, I have an affliction for journals in general, but I too went to the dark side for years. Everything was digital. Granted there is a connivence factor to it, but such a soulless one that is devoid of character. And ironically due to the nature of the internet, the fear of security was so high, it was always a censored version of my self. A bulleted version of life one could say. Once I shifted back... I would have to agree with Ms. Nicks about the tactile joys of the hand written journal.

I also came across this quote a few months back by John Berendt (of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil), that I thought was brilliant...

“Keep a diary, but don't just list all the things you did during the day. Pick one incident and write it up as a brief vignette. Give it color, include quotes and dialogue, shape it like a story with a beginning, middle and end—as if it were a short story or an episode in a novel. It's great practice. Do this while figuring out what you want to write a book about. The book may even emerge from within this running diary.” 

― John Berendt

Which in turn made me think of the short writing session I did from a Lynda Barry YT video that yielded one of the most visceral piece of writing I've ever done. It was truly just a moment in time that I was picturing in my head, but my pen just floated over the page. In a short amount of time I felt like I truly showed my moment and not just told what happened.

Although I digress... it occurred to me that I was ultimately dealing with the same sort of fear I had to over come with my art. I know it is nothing new... the usual fear of the white page, criticism of not only your peers, but yourself... however the epiphany truly comes when you no longer put art or writing on this pedestal of perfection.

Any who, despite the obvious utility journaling holds for creatives like Ms. Nicks and Mr. Berendt, the act of journaling is not only an ancient tradition that dates back to at the very least 10th century Japan, but is known to have positive impact on our well-being. Here is an article from the PsychCentral that talks about this topic in detail.

Journaling is such a fascinating subject. Whether or not what you write is prolific, whether it is about what you wore that day, or a screaming dump session that you immediately wonder if you should tear out and burn, it is a slice of your unique life.

Who knows... an entry may inspire a novel, a wonderful piece of art, or a song one day. Besides that, one thing is for sure, the act of journaling has wonderful health benefits. So why not?

Music of the Day:
Haim : Falling

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