Writing in a journal is not for everyone. But then again, neither is writing. For those of us who do like to write, journaling can be appealing.
Of late, I have returned to the practice of free-hand writing in my notebook. It’s been a hopscotch couple of years as the pandemic endures. Maybe because it’s a new year – 2022 – it somehow feels right for me to be scribbling my ‘self-notes’ again.
Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, is famous for encouraging artists of all stripes to do three pages of writing each morning. She calls these the morning pages. Cameron insists that following this process will get the creative muscle going. Then voila! she says, all sorts of things can happen. One day a character named ‘Johnny’ came walking on to her page, who soon became the protagonist for a future novel.
Recently I was reminded of the joys of journaling by US-based teacher and poet, Dawn Leas. In a short video clip that you can view here, Dawn outlines the benefits of warm-up, writing exercises. One particular morning she employed four methods to get herself into the zone. She took a walk, chatted with a friend, visited her favourite tree, and journaled. (Actually, she may have journaled first, but still, she did it. )
The morning pages can be a way of getting all that ‘blah’ out of your head and onto the page. I find if I press on with them, I might strike upon a good idea for a story, or uncover a belief system I didn’t know I had. I may find that I have learned to be okay with the very thing I’d feared. (For example, writing!)
Sometimes we might come up with a good sentence. ‘All you have to do is write one true sentence,’ writes Ernest Hemingway. (This might have been his.)
Ah! One good sentence. Just one. Wouldn’t that be nice?