“An estimated fifteen million blank-book journals sell every year in the United States. Somebody is writing” Christina Baldwin
In her book on “storycatching” Christina, one of the pioneers of the journal writing movement makes this statement about journal writing and blank books. And, she says, “Journal writing is the ongoing creation of the story of a life, in the littlest and largest sense. It is a story told to the self, by the self, for the self.”
I have been using a journal for lots of years now. I can’t remember exactly when I first intentionally and consciously took a blank book and began to write out my thoughts, dreams, reflections, frustrations, memories, prayers….even grocery lists appeared sometimes! I had one of those little diaries with lock and key as a young girl. I kept a journal in some of my college classes. I kept one when a counselor suggested it as a way to find my way back to myself. I use one now as a part of my daily spiritual disciplines. All I know is that my journal and the practice of journaling has been one of the greatest gifts I have been given. I am blessed to have the journals of one of my grandmothers. And I get together once a week with a small group of women who all use journals and a writing discipline as one of their spiritual practices. These things have made for a rich experience with pen and paper.
So, how do you start this practice? Easy…grab a blank book, one that you have picked out with intention and love, get a pen you like to write with and start. There is no right or wrong way to do this. Let it be fun. Practice makes possible. You will be surprised at what finds its way to the page. Look around the room, find something….the dust bunny in the corner, the rumpled bed sheet and write about it on the page.
Stuck? Just start over with whatever you first wrote down. Copy a quote from a book that you love and write a response or a question below it. Write 5 things at the end of each day you have to be thankful for. Cut out a cartoon you laughed at, glue it in your journal and write a response to it. Don’t worry about spelling or punctuation. This is not an English essay. (That took me awhile to learn since I had a mother who was an English teacher). There are no grades. Writing in a journal is a physical exercise; with practice your creative juices flow, you find your voice, and before you know it you have formed a habit of going to your journal on a regular basis. Make a commitment….10 minutes a day or more if that fits your schedule. Just do it.
Carla Pineda is a journaling/writing workshop and retreat leader with a background in psychology/counseling and is a certified spiritual director. Her interests lie in working with women and exploring the areas of creativity, spirituality, and wholeness through reading and writing in circles of support, sharing, safety, and fun. She is the assistant manager/event coordinator and buyer for the independent bookstore, Viva Books in San Antonio.