A year ago, I started journalling. I wrote about it here. It was part whim, part dare, part desperation – because if you remember *I* was desperate. I don’t know exactly what made me put pen to paper that first morning, but I do know what has kept me doing it every morning since: it’s magic.
Despite my love of writing and my love of notebooks, I have never, ever kept a journal in my life. As it turns out, these are the things that actually kept me from journalling. First, I had to realize that journalling is very different from writing. What I love about writing is the search for the perfect word, the perfect sentence structure, the perfect tone. I love to revise (and revise and revise and revise). That’s the juice for me. With journalling, perfection isn’t invited to the party. It is one shitty rough draft after another after another. No revising allowed. One way I tricked myself in the beginning was to write by candlelight. I knew I was translating whatever was in my head onto the paper, but I couldn’t see any specifics like spelling mistakes, grammar infractions or awkward diction. Ignorance was bliss and it kept me going.
The other thing I had to get over was “Fancy Journal Syndrome”. I love a nice journal. I have stacks of them. Guess what though? They are all blank. With a fancy journal there is an unspoken expectation in my mind. I thought (and in a sense, still think) that whatever I wrote had to be worthy of the pretty paper and the lovely cover. The answer to this was relatively easy and ridiculously cheap: composition notebooks. At 50 cents a pop, there is zero expectation. My only concession is to paper over the ugly marbled covers. I use the painting scraps that I can’t throw away – a lot of them are better than my paintings, lol. This keeps it fun, but again, absolutely no pressure. Oh and there has to be lines. Blank pages feel like pressure to be creative – and in this case, that’s not the point. That’s why I have an art journal.
I went back and found the first entry in that first journal. It’s dated one year ago tomorrow and here is how it ends: “It’s going to that deep place where what I do every day dips below the surface and offers a glimpse of the holy. I am more than what I am doing on the surface. What is my heart saying? Where is my energy highest? This is what to pay attention to. How am I going about my days – not what am I doing. Rest in who you are. Be good at what you do. Work from that place of ease.” Not the most eloquent thing I’ve ever written, but considering the year that was to come, it feels like a heartfelt intention. Actually, there was something else on that page too. A prayer for a word to guide me during the upcoming year: “Holy Mystery, set a word upon my heart.” My prayer was answered in the word Artist which has undeniably changed my days and my life.
Yes, this journalling stuff is magic. It’s holy. It’s alchemical. It’s mysterious. And that’s exactly what keeps me putting pen to paper morning after morning. xoS
I did take an e-course with Susannah Conway pretty early on in the process. She is an avid journaller – to put it mildly – and her class starts again soon. (No affiliation, just information.) But wonderful free resources are all over the internet. Some of my favorites are Andrea Schroeder (she has a free journal e-course when you sign up at her site), Jamie Ridler (who just did this journal showdown vlog) and Lisa Sonora.