Whether you are a just beginning your first journal or you are a seasoned diarist, some simple hints can insure a more pleasurable, enlightening, and creative experience as you take this solitary inner journey.
The most important advice I can give is to approach your blank books with total abandon. This is a time for absolutely no rules, except for the rule that there are no rules. Let yourself do your journaling however, wherever and whenever you want. If you are trying to force yourself to write everyday for a certain amount of pages or minutes, you are setting yourself up for failure. If your intent is to write well, you can count on being disappointed. When it comes to journaling you must be flexible.
Do not trouble yourself with notions that you “must” do an entry because you promised yourself you would make writing part of a daily routine. Write when you have the urge to get your life down on paper. Make an entry when you have something that needs to be said, understood, or remembered. Your diary should not become another chore in your life. If you are having a great day, be totally present and in the moment with your experience. Put your book aside. Your journaling records the life you live; it is not a way to live your life. You live your life, talk about your life and now you write about your life.
At the Diarists’ Workshop I teach twelve different writing techniques.
- Try writing your thoughts in a list or consider dialoguing with your Higher Self or Magical Child-self.
- Occasionally change your point of view by writing in third person, using she or he, instead of the familiar first person “I”.
- Get creative. For example, if you find that you frequently write about a parent, instead of writing “about”, write “to” the parent in the form of an unsent letter. Leave it for a few days, then revisit the letter to consider answering the issues presented by you.
- Pick up your pen and answer the letter with an “imagined” letter from your parent.
- If you are writing about your childhood, do not remember it in past tense as the adult thinking about the child; record it as the child living it in the present tense. Use a crayon or colored pencil to write about your experience, do the entry in print instead of cursive writing, and experience the time as you did then.
Experiment with different techniques and allow for greater insights and more surprises.
If you are going to document your life, then I encourage you to use your imagination and make it an illuminated manuscript. Do not edit or censor. Record all the results of your endeavors whether they represent accomplishments or failures. Honor your past and acknowledge your present. Play with the possibilities of your future.
by Charlene Geiss,
co-author of Inner Outings: The Diarist’s Deck and Book of Exploration. She is the founder of the Diarists’ Workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her new book, which comes with a deck of of 33 Cards, is published by New World Library and costs $24.95.