Thoughts for the Month, June 2022

Hello & Happy June!
I’m writing from a newly revised website — please browse if you have a few minutes. It includes several upgrades to make scheduling and payment easier. In addition to the visual change, now you can browse my calendar, find an available slot, and pay your deposit (if required) directly from my website! Additionally, my services and niche genres are more defined, which will hopefully be helpful to you all as you decide on an editor for your writing.
This month I’m renewing my “Thoughts for the Month” newsletter/blog post, which hasn’t been a consistent endeavor, but I’m renewing it for two reasons: it helps me stay in contact with my clients, and it helps me maintain a regular writing schedule of my own when it’s so easy to become immersed in my clients’ writing!  
Speaking of writer’s habits, I thought I’d focus on journaling this June. 
Do you journal as a writer? Or, phased differently, is journaling your mode of writing on a daily, or maybe weekly, basis?
I’ve written previously about keeping a regular journal; it’s often my frustrations that prompt me to reflect on the journaling process itself; however, the writing ritual is not entirely to blame of these frustrations, and often it is an aspect of the solution to them, as I have discovered.
In Steampunk Journaling, a slightly zany and humorous post,  I began to recognize a mindset unsure of how to move on from situations, feeling compelled to document and analyze — stuck in a sort of neither here nor there indecision that sort of wants to go back and do something different — if only a time machine were available — and sort wants to imagine farther into the future lacking the information or knowledge to really get there. This is a mentality that wants to write prolifically (often obsessively) in an attempt to find a way out of confusion. In other words, it’s easy to start writing fiction on diary pages instead of implementing the interpersonal work that needs to happen to progress more directly with people and situations in life.
In Search and Surrender I confronted a realization that journaling itself was not enough (maybe too much), and I needed balance with other disciplines. Changes are sometimes uneasy…and sometimes necessary. This post represents a turning point in finding balance. It is sometimes the case that unceased writing perpetuates anxiety and inflates certain aspects of reality while simultaneously causing a separation from reality. This post reflects searching for new ways of attaining answers and acceptance. 
Once in a while it can be helpful to re-trace our paths so as to recall who we are, where we are, how we got here, and why we are moving in the direction in which we find ourselves.
Are we aimlessly going with the flow? 
Following a defined direction with set milestones?
Hung up on unresolved difficulties?
How’s it going? Are we where we wish to be?

Essentially, journaling is viewed by psychologists as a mentally healthy practice and is encouraged as a technique for self-improvement. 

Since I’ve already written posts about my own observations with journaling, i.e., optimizing self-improvement and minimizing obsessive thought patterning, I thought I’d use this post for the perspective of some outside research.

Why Journal? 

In his article “Journaling with Clients,”  Mark Stone, who utilizes journaling in his therapy practice, describes the basic impulse to journal, which he observed in the majority of his clients, as “the desire to record their experience” — but the contrast of those experiences and the reasons for wanting to record them varied significantly. Yet if that impulse is not present, it’s difficult to inspire; required journaling does not tend to yield results. 

In recent years, journaling themes have been rapidly integrating into the mainstream, including gratitude journals, health & exercise journals, parenting journals, favorite quotes journals, and dream journals. I’m a serious journaler — I often have a least two themed journals in addition to a day-to-day journal. I also really enjoy reading the various journal prompts that appear in my clients’ books. 

Some people journal for record keeping of current events. They are not especially interested in exploring their feelings or analyzing their childhoods, they are responding to political and social local/global events. This type of journaling tends to appeal to those with archival and historical interests in mind. Others journal as a sort of substitute for or supplement to conversation — instead of or in addition to talking through their confusions and dilemmas with friends, co-workers, or family members — they write through their thinking. 

Benefits and Challenges

Stone also emphasizes that while the content of journaling is important in the short term, it’s really the process that becomes most relevant eventually (this observation would be pertinent to conversations of therapeutic journaling rather than journaling as a historical/archival or literary interest). See the posts I mention above for my observations on benefits and challenges.

Approaches to Writing 

Sometimes there are issues that compel us to start keeping a record of events, if only a hunch that we’ll want to refer back to them for some reason or other. This approach to identifying an objective with your journal can support the effectiveness of your writing process. But I also really appreciate the whimsical side of journaling — just jotting down the impressions of daily life. This can provide the inspiration for more methodical and developed writing pieces later, or they can remind us of times-gone-by.

Journaling can be an invaluable tool to help sort through mental and emotional challenges but it may also behoove us to ask ourselves occasionally whether we are becoming lost in the fray of speculative thinking, making assumptions, and avoiding taking action or moving forward through a journaling approach that amplifies self-absorption and leads to a false sense of reality or self-imposed mental isolation. If so, we may need to seek assistance or redirect ourselves to varied approaches.

Works Cited:

Stone, Mark. “Journaling with Clients.” Individual Psychology, 54:4, 1998, 535.

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