The Power of Journaling – Article 8 in a Series: Journaling Equipment (addenda), Creating a Ritual, Methods

By Erica Miner
NABBW’s Journaling Expert

Greetings, Boomers!

As promised in last month\’s article, we\’ll discuss creating a journaling ritual. Instead of proposing specific exercises this time around, I will instead delineate some of my favorite journaling methods to familiarize you with your options to jumpstart your journaling journey and will then propose specific exercises over subsequent articles.

First, however, I wanted to share with you some of the latest research on journaling vis-à-vis your journaling equipment. A recent article in the UK Telegraph discusses a study from Advances In Haptics. If you\’re not familiar with the term “Haptics” it\’s defined as the study of the sense of touch and explained in more detail in the article. The Telegraph\’s Science Correspondent states that the act of writing by hand, as opposed to typing, lights up an area of the brain called Broca\’s region, which facilitates understanding and communication and imprints knowledge on the brain. Thus, to rev up your brain, consider foregoing the keyboard for writing by hand. That being said, the most important consideration of all is to use whatever means will get your thoughts and feelings on the page. Which brings us to the topic of ritual.

We all organize ourselves in different ways. Some of us create lists, others write out what we need to do in a calendar or on the Evernote app for the ipad (and by the way, there is also a great journaling app for the ipad if that is your equipment of choice). The most important thing is to create a daily, weekly or monthly writing schedule you can realistically follow and enjoy.

Find a time of day or night and a setting that will be conducive to getting your thoughts down. For me it was always easiest at the end of the day after the kids were asleep, to curl up on the sofa or prop myself up in bed. Play some background music (music can bring out certain emotions and allow you to access them on paper), wear comfortable clothes (or better yet jammies), savor a glass of wine or some tea, and if you wish, light a scented candle. Then gather your thoughts, let them flow in a stream of consciousness way – anything that occurs to you – and then go with them. Don\’t censor or allow yourself to stop and correct; just let yourself go.

It won\’t take long for you to establish this “me” time. Once you\’ve established this routine you\’ll be amazed how much you will relish this special time you\’ve set aside for yourself, and you will find yourself looking forward to this daily treat.

Following are some journaling methods that will add texture and richness to your journaling experience and allow you to express yourself more clearly and creatively.

  • Topic Method: choose any topic that comes to mind, whatever moves you, and write about that and only that for five to fifteen minutes.
  • Reflective Description Method: Step back and describe in vivid detail your personal feelings, reactions and viewpoints to events in your life and the world, as you would in an op-ed piece in a magazine or newspaper.
  • Imagination Method: Create an imaginary world using colorful description: how it looks, sounds, feels, smells and tastes. Then take a favorite short story and change the ending to suit your own imagination, or go back and change the beginning and/or middle, characters and locations. The potential for stimulating your own creativity in this way is limitless.
  • The Unsent Letter: This is a very powerful way to deal with emotions about a person; feelings that you don\’t know where to put. Writing a letter and not sending it will allow you to express your inner feelings about this individual as if you were actually face-to-face. This is a great way to get rid of emotional baggage.
  • Self-reflecting Dialogues: Cope with a particular problem by mentally expressing your anger, guilt, sadness or frustration and creating a dialogue in which you play both roles. I will give a specific example of this method in next month\’s article.

As to last month\’s quote, \’If food is poetry, then is poetry not food?\’ the author is the brilliant Joyce Carol Oates. This month\’s quote is from one of my all-time favorite writers:

\’Nothing has really happened until it has been recorded.\’

Thoughts? Send an email to NABBW and see if you\’re on the right track. Meanwhile, as my writing teacher in New York always told us at the end of each session: KEEP GOING.

Till next time!

Former Metropolitan Opera violinist ERICA MINER has had a multi-faceted career as an award-winning screenwriter, author, lecturer and poet. Her screenplays have won awards in recognized competitions, and her debut novel, Travels With My Lovers, won the Fiction Prize in the Direct from the Author Book Awards. Erica’s 1960s coming-of-age novel, FourEver Friends, published in 2009, was written with Baby Boomer Women in mind. Her highly anticipated suspense thriller, Murder In The Pit, released in June of 2010, has received five-start reviews across the board. Learn more about Erica on her website, EricaMiner.com.