For anyone who really knows me, you know I keep journals. I have dozens of those Mead Composition books filled to the rim with rambling passages about life, love and the pursuit of happiness.
Generally, I write when I'm trying to solve a problem. I pull out an ink pen, sit down with a new or old Mead, and write. I can write like this for hours. Everything falls out onto the page in messy cursive letters that I'm always amazed I can still decipher years later. No one else can. But I can. It's made me realize my handwriting is my own secret code. That's probably a good thing, as what gets written down would probably scare people who don't journal or get inside their head too often.
Inside my journals, you'll find emotional twists and turns, dramatic moments, and sometimes cuss words. I tell on people. I tell on myself. I tell stories. I cry. I yell. I scream. I can be angry on the page, and it won't hurt anyone. I do not show my journals to other people. I write what I write because it makes me feel better.
If you did happen to see inside of my Composition books, you'd find odd doodles as well. When I am anxious about something that's going on in life, I will write my name over and over again. Or I'll draw the same design over and over. It might be flowers. It might be cubed boxes. It might be circles of various sizes and configurations. For whatever reason, this calms me. It probably lets my mind take the rest it needs. By the way, that's what bike riding does for me as well, but I'll get to that in another post later.
I have used writing as a healing tool for as long as I can remember. I also remember when I lost my early childhood ones. I didn't lose them, exactly; I was forced to toss them out by my first husband. He was domineering and didn't know any better. When he learned about my journals (I called them diaries back then), where I'd written about my first love (I was 12; it wasn't a big deal), he made me throw them out. He literally stood over me as I gathered my beloved books together and dropped them in the trash outside. I was 16, newly married and mortified. I felt like I was throwing out a part of me. Four years later, even though he was the biological father of my children, I divorced him. Not because of the journals, necessarily, but because we weren't a good match. I didn't have the guidance a girl needs to realize it beforehand. I figured that out on my own in the journals I started to keep later and kept hidden from him. For whatever reason, I knew I couldn't give that part of me up and found a way to continue. I wrote a lot of poetry in those journals. I still have them, but none of the poetry's any good. So don't worry, I won't publish it here.
My point is that if writing will help you deal with life's trials, especially if you're drawn to it naturally, I recommend using it. If you've never tried it, it's never too late to begin a good habit.
You don't need a fancy writing tool. You don't need an expensive notebook. I buy the Mead books up when I can find them for a dollar a piece. But anything will do. All you need is your basic pen or pencil and paper. If you like, you can use your computer, though I truly believe in the connection of brain to pen to paper. I think something different occurs during the act of writing with a pen that doesn't when typing on a keyboard. But whatever works for you is what works for you.
I have used journals for specific purposes. For instance, when I wanted to focus my mind on a specific challenge, I wrote only about that challenge. During moments of frustration, for example, when I'm having a difficult time seeing the good things in life, I have Grateful Journals. Those are where I write nothing inside the pages but words that describe what I'm grateful for on that day. Nothing else goes in there. And I'll do that for a month, until my mind accepts the better perspective.
I've journaled in the early days of grief, after my second husband died in a car accident. Those journals are filled with cries and tears and fears--and pictures of the man I loved who died too young.
And then I have my Divorce Journals--the ones that stem from what happened with my third husband. I have dozens of those--and they will some day be a book, as the words inside those pages all relate to what I write about here. He's why I discovered my special brand of BIKE, and for that I'm grateful. It says so in one of my journals. :-)
You see, writing has always been a source of comfort for me. It could be one for you as well.
If you have never tried journaling, a good source of inspiration, and one way to learn about its powerful effects is by reading Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way. I speak a lot about her here. So do other creatives, such as Quinn McDonald. Cameron considers journal writing a means to connect with your creativity, or unblock it. She espouses its healing effects. She suggests you use journaling, what she calls The Morning Pages, to help get the crap out of your head so you can find the source of whatever holds you back--and solve the problem.
So there you have it. Journaling. Blogging is a form of journaling, in case you hadn't thought of that. Except, with blogging you're writing to help others and not just yourself. Regardless, if you are having a difficult time right now and don't know what to do about it, journaling might be the way to go. If nothing else, it will release the crap out of your head. On a higher note, the connection you make on the page by dragging out with your pen all the thoughts jumbled inside of your brain will lead you where you need to go in your pursuit of happiness. It just will. So give it a try.
For those of you who have a journaling case study and would like to share it with us so the rest of you can see I'm not as crazy as I seem, please do.