This blog introduces you to my special brand of BIKE. I show you how to find your Best self, access your Inner strength, tune in to your Killer instincts, and use your Expressive voice. It's inspiring, spiritual, quirky, and it's all in your head. It's about ATTITUDE, not exercise, though that might be a side benefit.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Write it down

It's the first piece of advice I give everyone I know who is in some kind of mental turmoil.

"Write it down," I tell them. "Get yourself a journal, a notebook or a napkin, if that's all you can afford, and get that stuff out of your head."

Write it down.

It's what I've been doing since I was a little girl. I've kept a journal since long before junior high school. I think I developed the habit in 4th grade. That was the year my teacher had us write our own life story. It was, essentially, my very first book. Not like the real one I have coming out this year, but it was a compilation of my thoughts and dreams. I still have a copy of it.

In junior high, I kept journals to deal with some tough stuff going on at home. Later, when I married the first time, my then-husband made me throw them all out. I couldn't tell you why, other than he must have felt threatened by them. I had made mention of my first boyfriend in them; I was 12, for goodness sakes. But, since that was only four years earlier, I guess, in his mind, it was a threat. Out they went. I remember telling him in tears, "Fine! You can make me throw these out, but you can't erase my memories." I was heartbroken. The written word has always been important in my world.

For a while afterward, I stopped keeping journals. I wrote poetry, instead. It's sort of the same. My poems were just shortened versions of my thoughts and fears. Since I married young--I was still in high school--I could tell him that I was doing homework. It really helped to have a way and a place to express thoughts that made me feel too vulnerable to share with anyone out loud. When I was 21, we divorced, and I resumed my journal writing habit. I felt empowered by the process, and I needed the mental escape.

That's why I suggest it to anyone I think might find this writing process beneficial, no matter the stressor. Journal writing, or journaling, as it's sometimes called, offers the writer the opportunity to build on three things:
  • your creativity.
  • your spirituality.
  • your inner wisdom.

In my view, it's another way to find your BIKE. As you write down your thoughts, you begin to develop an awareness. The words on paper challenge you to seek solutions. All you have to do is keep writing regularly and trust in the process.

I have kept travel journals, food journals, journals where I did nothing more than doodle, and diaries where I wrote about all that was wrong in my world at the time. I especially relied on my journals after my second husband died; we'd only been married 7 weeks. And when my third husband left me for his secretary, I not only rode my bike but I wrote in my journal daily to deal. Nowadays, I especially like to keep a thankful journal. That's the one where nothing goes on the page except passages that describe what I'm thankful for--I do this especially when I'm NOT feeling very grateful. Then, it's just a matter of days before my attitude relaxes. Journaling is a very healthy way to squash mental anguish.

After suggesting this coping mechanism, I'll often hear, "But I don't know how to write like that." Even writers will say this. Well, the good news is you don't have to know. There's nothing to it. It's just like in a college composition class where you learned free writing. That's all it is. Just stream of consciousness writing. Put down whatever's on your mind. It doesn't have to make sense or be in compete sentences. There are no rules, though, Julia Cameron, one of the more famous advocates of journal writing (She calls it writing in your Morning Pages.), suggests doing the exercise first thing in the morning. Still, if you're really in turmoil, I wouldn't skip it just because it's already afternoon.

If you're at all resistant, look for a journal writing class. I've seen them listed in almost every city I've ever visited. I bet you can find one near you. Check with your local community center or college.

Before you know it, you'll see things more clearly, find the solutions to your problems, and become an advocate yourself.

What do you think? Do you journal? Tell us your story. We'd love to read it.

9 comments:

Katie Hinderer said...

I think blogs can double as a journal. I haven't kept a physical journal in a while but I have created blogs at certain times to write things out. The nice thing is you can make them private if you want to be the only one reading it, or you can make it public and allow others to feel in a way what you are feeling.
At other times I've written short stories where a character goes through something similar to what I'm experiencing. It can be very healing.
But the mantra Write It Down is so true. It helps flesh everything out.

The BIKE Lady said...

Katie,

Good point about blogs. For me, part of the healing aspect, though, is the pen in your hand and the ink on the paper. It's that mind/body connection.

Do you ever write this way, anymore? Without the keyboard? I think you get two different experiences.

Love that you write short stories. So do I. And I've done it for that same reason. Not always. But I've used them to think through a dilemma or two, or to create a different outcome than actually occured.

Thanks for commenting. See you here on Thursday! ;-)

Jackie

quinncreative said...

Blogs are better than not writing, but they are too fragile. Paper and pencil last longer--thousands of years. I have many computer diskettes filled with blogs that I can't open anymore.

Meanwhile, because I believe in blogs, I've become part of the 1001 Journal Project--four real journals are available for people to write in. I'll mail them anywhere. More information is at
http://raw-art-journals.com/1001_Journal_Project.html

The BIKE Lady said...

Quinn,

I'm confused. I'll have to visit your link to see what you're talking about...What are you mailing out? Real journals? A blog? What? I'll go see.

Thanks,
Jackie

Melissa said...

Jackie: I agree that getting something on paper helps. Rather than tossing and turning all night, I'll get up and write it all down. Then it's out and I can sleep. I don't think typing it would be as helpful to me. I also write letters that I know I'll never send.

quinncreative said...

I didn't want to talk about my project on your site, but yep, I'm circulating four real-paper journals among people who keep journals and want to participate in this art/culture/writing project. Three are themed (travel, dreams, summer in PHX) and one is unthemed. It's a fascinating way to share cultural views.

The BIKE Lady said...

Melissa and Quinn,

Thanks for continuing the dialogue...and answering my questions.

Melissa, I have tried to type thoughts down in the middle of the night, when they came to me, and it didn't work well. It wasn't the same. It just woke me up!

Not good.

Jackie

Katie Hinderer said...

I was sitting here reading all the comments and trying to remember the last time I really wrote something out on paper that wasn't with a purpose (birthday cards, letter to friend abroad, etc..)
I don't think I've written this way in years. Since I'm always in front of the computer I type it all out on here and then save it to an e-mail account so it exists but isn't sent anywhere. Writing things out long-hand takes too much time, especially when the feelings are jumbled and ready to come out. But that's just me.

The BIKE Lady said...

Katie,

It does, indeed, take time. But it's a completely different experience, you and the pen/paper vs. you and the keyboard/screen. A few summers ago, I attended a fiction writing workshop in Ohio where we spent an entire week writing short stories in long hand. At first, I wished I had a laptop. I wondered how I'd be able to do it, to write like that. But it was amazing the work we (10 of us) accomplished. Beautiful writing. Very organic. Very intense. I'm so glad we did that. At night, of course, we all went to the computer lab and finished our work. But, by day, it was all very non-mechanical. You might give it a try. Just for grins.

Jackie