All posts tagged: journaling

The Benefits of Journaling

As best as I can remember, I’ve been writing on a journal since I was a teenager. The notebook and pen became two of my very best friends on the journey through the hormone-saturated teenage years. I lost touch with these two friends for a few years when I explored the corporate jungle. The hectic lifestyle simply did not support nor provide moments for quiet reflection. When I decided to retreat from the world after a few years of elbowing and jostling in the corporate arena, reconnecting with the journal and pen was a vital part of my healing process. I do not remember neither the first time I wrote on a journal, nor the reason why. But I am deeply grateful for the way this writing habit has enriched my life in all levels. According to psychologists at the University of Texas at Austin as well as  psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker, writing regularly on a journal has several beneficial effects on one’s health: journaling strengthens our T-lymphocytes, the cells of our immune system it decreases …

Adventures in Journaling

My journal is my place to let go of formal constraints, to be crazy and creative, to take off my masks, to be me, to find me.  -Lynn G. Nelson I’ve been writing on journals since I was a teenager, and if anything, it is the one thing in my writing life that has remained constant. But after one has spent decades writing on journals, there’s a danger that it could become just another tedious chore. That’s why it’s important to have an arsenal of techniques and  various ways of writing on a notebook. Here are some that I’ve practiced through the years: The journal as a dumping ground: for rants during confusing times, and those moments when I just want to let it all out. “Use your journal as a garbage can. Discard your angers, your fears, your doubts, your frustrations by writing about them in your journal. This will lessen their power over you. You will feel better.”  – Lynn G. Nelson I use the journal as a lens through which I see the world from a different perspective. …

Stumped? Use An Epigraph

An epigraph is a tool that every writer can use when the creative muse refuses to appear.  It’s one of those things that can help us ward off the infamous writer’s block. What is an epigraph?  It has nothing to do with words you see on a gravestone — that’s an epitaph. An epigraph is a short quotation that is placed at the beginning of an article, a journal entry, or any writing piece. Why are they such great writing tools?  An epigraph can get the writer to start thinking – akin to a writing prompt. The difference is that the epigraph not only stimulates the writer to write, it also provides direction and insight: It is, after all,  the wise saying of another person.

When the Muse is Absent

On those days when the muse doesn’t show up and you feel stumped (again), here’s a technique that will keep the pen moving: List your favorite things, your favorite activities, or your favorite places. In Word Painting, Rebecca McClanahan sites author Larry Brown’s list of things that firemen use in their work: …ladders, axes, forcible entry tools, rappelling gear, ropes, safety belts, breathing apparatus, nozzles, generators, a Hurst Tool (Jaws of Life), flashlights, pike poles, entry saws, bolt cutters, fire extinguishers… After listing things that you love, employ the “I love” technique Brown uses in his book, On Fire. Brown has three pages detailing the things he loves.  Here is a paragraph he wrote using some of the items from the list: “I love to go down on the floor and see the smoke over me, worm my way forward to the fire, the hose hard as a brick, the scuffed rubber on the end of the fog nozzle. I love the two-and-a-half-inch hoses and the big chrome nozzles that no man can hold, the red axes and the pry bars …

The Journal as a Valuable Tool in Writing a Book

In an essay that was published in the book Writers and Their Notebooks, (edited by Diana M. Raab)  Author Sue Grafton explains why the journal is an invaluable tool when she is working on book projects: “The most valuable tool I employ in the writing of a private eye novel is the working journal. This notebook (usually four times longer than the novel itself) is like a letter to myself, detailing every idea that occurs to me as I proceed. “The journal is a record of my imagination at work, from the first spark of inspiration to the final manuscript. One of my theories about writing is that the process involves an ongoing exchange between the Left Brain and Right. The journal involves a testing ground where the two can exchange. Left brain is analytical, linear, the timekeeper, the bean counter, the critic and editor, a valuable ally in the shaping of the mystery novel or any piece of writing for that matter. Right brain is creative, spatial, playful, disorganized, dazzling, nonlinear, the source of the Aha! …

Journaling as Spiritual Practice

  “For much of my own life, journal writing has been an important act of soul centering. Initially unaware of my journal’s spiritual purpose, I later fiercely claimed this writing as a spiritual practice when I realized my journal pages had become a kind of chapel for me, an intimate place that I frequented to whisper my gratitude, praise, and laments, and even, at times, a petition or two.” -Karen Hering in Writing to Wake the Soul: Opening the Sacred Conversation Within       photo credit: 2015-03-06g A path to keeping a diary — index card #writing #journaling #diary via photopin (license)

Why Writers Keep Journals

“People who keep journals have life twice.” – Jessamyn West “I’ve been keeping a diary for thirty-three years and write in it every morning. Most of it’s just whining, but every so often there’ll be something I can use later: a joke, a description, a quote. It’s an invaluable aid when it comes to winning arguments. ‘That’s not what you said on February 3, 1996,’ I’ll say to someone.” – David Sedaris “I got out this diary and read, as one always does read one’s own writing, with a kind of guilty intensity. I confess that the rough and random style of it, often so ungrammatical, and crying for a word altered, afflicted me somewhat. I am trying to tell whichever self it is that reads this hereafter that I can write very much better; and take no time over this; and forbid her to let the eye of man behold it. And now I may add my little compliment to the effect that it has a slapdash and vigour and sometimes hits an unexpected …

Friday Web Finds

As we near the end of May, we are saying goodbye to the last few days of summer. We are now experiencing sunny days interspersed with thunderstorms. It had been a searing summer – the hottest I’ve experienced here in my native Philippines. During the past three months, we had a handful of days when temperatures reached 104°F – way above the usual 91°F average summer temperature. June will usher in the 5-month rainy season. Soon we will begin preparing for the floods and the typhoons…we’re  living and thinking on the margins. Vivian Gornick is A Woman on the Margins . In this interview, she discusses the problem with writing programs. Gornick expounds on the memoir’s potential for dishonesty; and she tells as how she finds her way in this world as a writer. Louise DeSalvo is one writer who finds her way in this world through The Art of Slow Writing (this works well for me). In this post, Margarita Tartakovsky discusses why The Creative Process Takes Time (And That’s A Good Thing). The post focuses on DeSalvo’s book. We’re …

A Page from My Journal: A Haibun

20 August 2014 I wrote very little this morning in my journal. Again, my brain goes into projection mode. It rehearses what I will tell a beleaguered client tomorrow. The thoughts rise above the desire to read and write. Rustling sounds draw my attention towards the window. I take a look and see Boots, one of my rescues. This gentle cat is lying on the ground in sweet surrender. The brain stops chatting. My body breathes. I smile. clutter in my mind signs of insecurities cat asleep outside     Haibun Definition from Contemporary Haibun Online Contemporary haibun is a combination of prose and haiku poetry, sometimes described as ‘a narrative of epiphany’. Like English haiku, English haibun is evolving as it becomes more widely practiced in the English speaking world. Haibun is the Japanese name for 17th Century poet-monk Basho Matsuo’s poetic-prose travel journals which were studded with haiku. The best known are The Narrow Road to the Deep North and The Hut of the Phantom Dwelling. Bruce Ross in an essay entitled “North …

From My Journal: Trading the Camera for Pen and Notebook

I live in a tropical country – the Philippines – and every year during the last quarter, our 7,100 islands play hosts to thousands of birds migrating from other countries like Japan, Korea and China. The birds begin to arrive in October to escape the cold winter months. Our lakes, rivers, seas and land become temporary haven for these migratory birds. Many years ago I belonged to a small bird-watching group and we used to travel to the provinces armed with binoculars and field guides to watch the birds. Travels during the last quarter of the year were especially fulfilling because we were able to see some migratory birds as well. But these days it’s no longer necessary to travel to the provinces to see the migratory birds. They come to the suburbs as well and every October we see a few of them on empty fields or near lagoons. A flock of plumed egrets arrived in a field near our house last October. Just a small flock of about twenty birds, and they were in …

The Changing Seasons of a Writing Life

A few weeks ago, many trees in our tropical country began to shed and soon many of them were naked.  In the Philippines, falling leaves signal the changing of seasons, and many streets in the suburbs and provinces are littered with dried leaves. The shedding of the trees happens between the cool months and the hot summer days.  The evenings and early mornings remain cool, but the days begin to feel summery. It is as though there is a tug of war between the cold nights and the hot days.     We know summer is afoot because the egrets that have migrated to the city from China begin to leave…     And bougainvillea plants begin to bloom copiously…     But today, we had rain, and suddenly it felt like the rainy season again. Climate change is so noticeable here in the Philippines, and today is a gentle reminder that the weather is ever-changing and has become quite unpredictable.     The changing seasons seem to mirror the changes in my writing life. I …

Words of Wisdom from a Writer: What is Journal Writing?

“When you write a little each day (jour means day in French), journaling becomes a daily practice.” “Journal writing is practice and much more. With your words you give life to what you see, what you hear, what you touch. In this way you transform the outer thing that you see or touch into something inner. You bridge the outer and inner worlds, the visible and the invisible. This is the gift of journaling. Your daily life calls you in a thousand directions; journal writing centers you. You slow down and write. You learn to look anew at the world.” “So why journal? Here are some of the reasons. To establish the habit of writing (A writer writes.) To capture memories (places, characters, conversations, events) To discover what you think and feel (each time going deeper) To find your voice (When does your writing sound the most natural? Look at your entries to see at what time of day and in what place you write most easily. Track your writing habits.) To take risks (in …

Dialogue – Another Tool for the Journal Writer

Whenever you get stuck in your monologue, open your mind to dialogue.                                                                  -Christina Baldwin It’s one of the most important tools in journal writing, but one I always forget to use: Dialogue. It’s a tool that’s most helpful when one is stumped, or when you are dogged by a persistent issue in your life. But you can use it anytime and for anything. Christina Baldwin in her book Life’s Companion, Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest, says that “Dialogue is the most versatile tool of journal writing.” According to Baldwin, when we write in monologue, we may just go around the issue.  “Dialogue gets to the heart of the matter,” says Baldwin. To use dialogue in journal writing, you have to ask questions – these will spur the conversation. When we use dialogue in journal writing, one part of the brain asks the questions …

Studies Reveal Benefits of Writing and Editing Our Own Stories

A recent article that appeared in the New York Times will give journal writers cause to celebrate. In Writing Your Way to Happiness, Tara Parker Pope chronicles the various scientific researches that have been done on expressive writing, which prove that it is good for a person’s general well-being. The author also delves on a recent research study which involves writing and then rewriting one’s personal story. This method of journaling can provide journal writers another way to tackle the blank page. I haven’t tried it yet, but I would certainly keep it handy in case the blank page of my journal refuses to give a message or the words simply won’t flow from my mind. This method of expressive writing, according to the author, has been found to have various beneficial effects. Pope explains, “The concept is based on the idea that we all have a personal narrative that shapes our view of the world and ourselves. But sometimes our inner voice doesn’t get it completely right. Some researchers believe that by writing and then …

A Journaling Exercise (part 2)

Part 1 of A Journaling Exercise was all about changing a pattern – instead of quickly writing on a blank page, we are asked to: 1) spend some time staring at the blank page; 2) ask for a message or messages 3) engage the blank page in a dialogue 4) and finally, write about your impressions about the exercise. Now. we all know that the blank page won’t really answer – if it does even I would bolt for the nearest door!  In this exercise, the blank page serves as a focal point.The exercise serves several purposes: First of all, it provides a break from your usual, daily journaling habit which could lead to boredom. The waiting part silences the conscious mind and provides an opening for the subconscious mind.  Jenny Davidow, in Embracing Your Subconscious: Bringing All Parts of You into Creative Partnership wrote: “Your subconscious is a powerful and mysterious force which can either hold you back or help you move forward. Without its cooperation, your best goals will go unrealized; with its help, you …

A Journaling Exercise (part 1)

  If you are a journal writer like me, you’ve probably tried different ways to fill the pages of your notebooks. You may have tried freewriting, ranting, listing, poetry, naming and describing. Here’s an exercise you may want to try. For a change, instead of writing on the blank page, just stare at it and don’t write anything. That’s right, don’t write anything. Instead, ask the blank page what message or messages it has for you and then wait for an answer. When an answer comes, don’t write – not yet. Dialogue with the blank page. Keep talking to it until it stops talking to you, and then write about the whole experience. I could share with you what I wrote about my experience with the blank page but if I do that, I will be putting ideas into your head and you won’t have an authentic experience. So I won’t post it here. Besides, I’m reserving it for another blog post! photo credit: Melissa Venable via photopin cc

Freewriting

The best time to write is when you don’t know what to write. Those moments are golden opportunities, full of possibilities because ideas could just come from nowhere. Beginner’s mind – that state of mind in Zen where one’s mind is free from all fetters – is a jewel in a writer’s world. We call it freewriting – writing with no agenda other than to write down without judgment all the words that flow from within. You keep the pen on paper and write without stopping to think about grammar, syntax or if you are making any sense at all. On the surface, this kind of writing seems useless. But among other things, you are giving the mind permission to relax and play. It’s like allowing the mind to let go and be. And when the mind is allowed to play, the body relaxes, and for some of us that’s  hard to come by given the many stressors and stresses of modern life. Try it, – write freely. Give yourself permission to play with words, to …

On Journaling

“I realize now that journaling has been the one consistent thing that I’ve done for myself. Through the days of serving and helping others, journaling has been my way of paying attention to me.” I wrote those words late last year, through the business of the holidays and work. It seemed like I was caught in a whirlpool of work, chores and social obligations. Nevertheless, I continued to journal and tried to do it during the first few hours of the day. My journal became my sanctuary, far and away from the crazy demands of the world. “The decision to write a journal has been the most important decision I have ever made because it has led to every other important decision I’ve ever made,” writes Christina Baldwin in her book, Life’s Companion, Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest.”  She continues, “The existence of the journal provides writers with confidence and courage that we can travel as far as the mind allows, and find our way home through the act of writing.” Journals have been my constant …

Writing and the Forgotten Art of Savoring

Jack Heffron tells writers to have fun with the writing process. I’m sure humor writers have lots of fun when they write, but I was absent when heaven showered writers with the gift of humor. I have the sneaky feeling though that two other bloggers, Pam and Susanne were in the front row when  it happened and I always grow green with envy after reading their blogs. To have fun during the writing process, I started a “fun journal.” That’s my best shot at having fun while writing. I love to write, but I cannot say it’s fun. How does one have fun while searching for the right words to express one’s feelings? English is my second language so when I’m writing, I’m regularly questioning whether this or that word is the right one and I Google the meaning of words when I am in doubt – which is quite often. No, writing isn’t fun for me yet, I haven’t found the path that leads to that state and I hope I’ll see the signposts that leads to that place – soon. But  writing does …

Writers on Writing

“Instinctively, years ago, I knew the part that Work must play in my life. More than twelve years ago I wrote in ink on my typing board at my right hand the words: DON’T THINK!…The time will come when your characters will write your stories for you, when your emotions, free of literary cant and commercial bias, will blast the page and tell the truth. Remember: Plot is no more than foot prints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations. Plot is observed after the fact rather than before. It cannot precede action. It is the chart that remains when an action is through. That is all Plot ever should be. It is human desire let run, running and searching a goal. It cannot b mechanical. It can only be dynamic. So, stand aside, forget targets, let the characters, your fingers, body, blood and heart do.” -Ray Bradbury in Zen in the Art of Writing   “I had learned long before, in my own writing life, …

Writers on Writing

It’s been a while since I last featured quotable quotes from writers. Here are some words of wisdom from writing masters: “Writing, the creative effort, the use of the imagination, should come first–at least for some part of every day of your life. It is a wonderful blessing if you will use it. You will become happier, more enlightened, alive, impassioned, lighthearted, and generous to everybody else. Even your health will improve. Colds will disappear and all the other ailments of discouragement and boredom.”    – Brenda Ueland “Writers don’t have lifestyles. They just sit in little rooms and write.”   – Norman Mailer “Writing is a craft. You have to do the work, be willing to put scattered words down. The magic is in the commitment.”         — Jennifer Baszile “I am the only one who can tell the story of my life and say what it means.”    – Dorothy Allison  “The essential question is, “Have you found a space, that empty space, which should surround you when you write?” Into …

Falling

I’ve been enviously feasting on pictures of autumn featured in various blogs across the web. I love the splash of colors that autumn brings. We don’t have that kind of season here in the tropics – when leaves turn yellow or brown, they fall off and the trees go bald. Green leaves push their way through the branches just as the last dying leaves fall off. Tropical tress also have their own rhythms. We don’t have a season of falling leaves. Different species shed at different times of the year. The Talisay tree sheds twice a year: after summer and midway through the cooler months of the dry season.   Some trees shed completely and look like skeletons for a week or so, until the new leaves begin to dress up the trees again. Shedding is part of a tree’s life. It’s a dying of sorts that paves the way for new growth. People go through autumnal seasons as well, but the falling, the dying happens internally. Sometimes they manifest through the rituals in our lives. When the soul-based practices …

Writing through the Pain

“Rosanna, How are you even able to write and post? No matter how many pictures I see, I know I cannot fathom what you and your country are going through. I pray for you,” a fellow blogger, Nancy, commented after reading a blog post I wrote that was filled with pictures of the devastation that Typhoon Haiyan brought to the third biggest group of islands in the Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan, a super typhoon and one of the strongest typhoons ever to hit land, devastated the Visayas last November 8, 2014. I was at that time participating in NaBloPoMo as part of the Yeah Write group and even I was surprised when I was able to pull through the blogging challenge. I never missed a post. Not only that, I wrote more posts about Haiyan in another blog and in social media. I could not stop writing – it was as though the death of more than 7,000 of my countrymen and the uncertain fate of thousands of people left homeless and traumatized by Haiyan ignited a flame in me …

Writing on the Fabric of One’s Soul

Dear Readers,  I am on my third week of sabbatical from blogging. Bumping up a post written last year, about taking time out from writing: In 2004,  I decided to leave a burgeoning career as a feature writer to hearken to a spiritual calling. For almost a decade I stopped writing professionally and relied solely on journaling as my way of writing. It was not easy to leave behind a career I had worked so hard to establish; and it took sometime to accept the fact that I was no longer a writer – and perhaps would never be one, again. During that period, journaling was the only writing activity I had.  It was a welcome avenue, but it could never equal the joy of being a feature writer for an international magazine.  Because of the absence of deadlines, there were days, even months when I abandoned journaling altogether.  I didn’t write a word. Yet, it didn’t bother me.  Abandoning a writing career made it easy for me to accept the days when the words would …

The Call to Write

“Why did you abandon your career as a journalist?” a therapy client once asked me.  At that time, I was just  beginning my therapy career – albeit grudgingly, because I did not want to go into the healing profession even if my grandmother was a healer, and three of my cousins had followed the healer’s path. I stared at him, unable to find the words amidst the motley of emotions within. Perhaps sensing my struggle, he stared at me and provided the answer to his own question: “You hearkened to the call,” he said with a smile. It was the first of many instances that  I would experience role reversal in my therapy work. When this happens the healer becomes the healee and vice versa.  In this particular moment, the client helped me regard my gift to heal as a blessing. “There are many things that call us out of ourselves and, in the moment we transcend our own boundaries, open us to the presence of the Beloved, to the background call of the cosmos, ” David Spangler writes …

Journaling Through Difficult Times

Typhoon Rammasun slammed through our country last week, leaving much of the Philippines’ capital region without electricity for several days.  Power was restored in our place during the wee hours of this morning, ending six days of candlelit dinners. Rammasun was the first major storm that sliced though our country this year,  and was by far the strongest since Super Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 7,300 people last November. Rammasun’s death toll continues to rise and is now more than 80. At least two Asian dailies have called our country “disaster weary.” South China Morning Post reported, “The disaster-weary Philippines braced for a second severe storm in five days yesterday as the death toll from Typhoon Rammasun surged to 77, officials said.” Typhoon Matmo followed in the heels of Rammasun, even as many of us were still wading through the debris left by the typhoon. Fortunately, it did not make landfall. “Mother nature battering nature,” was the only way I could describe the scene that I saw through my window a week ago, as Rammasun’s winds …

Nuggets of Wisdom from Writers: On Writing

Here are some quotes that I hope will inspire you or strike a chord and get you writing. My favorite is from Khaled Housseni, an Afghan-born American novelist and physician.   “You cannot write with the conviction that your work will be one day reprinted to the extent that Hemingway’s has, but you ought to write in such a fashion that if it is, you will have no apologies for it.  Nothing is as destructive to a writer’s self-esteem– and, ultimately, his ability– as shoddy craftsmanship.  Make it well.  Whether or not the thing lasts, the care you have taken will be the measure not only of your talent, but of your integrity.”  -William Ruehlmann  in Stalking the Feature Story   “People write because they need to. People make stories for themselves and others, to fight the bomb, or the war, or to fix the broken places. We electric socket into the full power of our Selves by scribbling into our interior hinterlands.” -Andy Couturier in Writing Open the Mind   “Writing is an act of hope. …

Besieged by Writing Ideas

Through the days since I first wrote about early morning writing and how to carve out more writing time, I had indeed been writing more. Early morning writing branched out to writing on a gratitude journal. Then I found my brain “itching” to write a haiku a day in a smaller notebook. For a few months last year, I tried to write a small stone a day, mainly because I felt incapable of writing a haiku a day. After a few weeks of writing a haiku a day, I read a tanka from a blog and I said to myself, “I want to write that too!” Then I encountered and fell in love with haibun, and my writing days have never been the same. Life literally changed for me when I began writing a haiku, a tanka and a haibun a day.  Throw in the six word memoir, which is like icing on the cake. Today’s six word memoir is: Writing has now become sheer joy. The first hour of my days are spent in …

The Book that I Am Already Writing

I woke up this morning with the answer to a question that I had been pondering upon since last month: Should I begin writing a first draft again? I had previously attempted to write a manuscript, but  had to give it up when life interrupted. I considered lack of time as the issue because my therapy work is on the upswing and most days I am simply too tired to do any more writing after work. Giving up therapy work is out of the question – I know that it is my right livelihood and it is as important to me as writing is. The words to this blog post came flooding  through my mind the minute I woke up. Nevertheless, I sat down and began my early morning writing. I stopped this practice for three days. I always stop writing when I am not clear about my writing life. Abstaining has its merits, and early morning writing today was an eye-opener – I found myself writing from a fresh perspective. More Writing Books are …

How to Carve Out More Writing Time

Dorothea Brande (1893 – 1948) was an American author, lecturer and magazine editor. Her book Becoming a Writer, was published in 1934. Brande says the book is about the writer’s magic. The book is actually a treasure trove, filled with suggestions on how a writer can get over his/herself and begin writing. In the previous post, we discussed Brande’s method that “teach the unconscious to flow into the channel of writing” through the practice of early morning writing. In this post, we outline the next steps which are geared towards helping writers carve out more writing time. Brande assures us that once the first two steps are practiced daily, there will be many discoveries: You will begin to express the day’s experiences into words You will tend to know ahead of time how you will be able to use an anecdote or episode You will be able to transform the rough material of life into fictional shape – and you will be able to do this more consistently than before After you have reached this …

How to Begin a New Writing Habit

Last month, I decided it was time to start a new writing habit. In a blog post written last year, I explained why I write on my journal at various times of the day. It was a habit formed a long, long time ago, when I was working as a feature writer. I value the ability to write everywhere – even in the midst of a noisy and busy place, and it is one habit that I plan to continue as long as I want to write. I have been journaling since I was very young, and through the years, it had become a very therapeutic practice. But as I recounted in another blog post, I have been feeling that something was amiss – somehow journaling no longer seemed so enticing and fulfilling. Perhaps I had been doing it for so long? I was thus very grateful to have been given a  scholarship by Shift Network to Mark Matousek’s course, “Writing as a Spiritual Practice.” Mark is a generous teacher – the course materials were …

Own Your Story! Free E-course

Canvas Network is once again offering a host of e-courses. Two courses would be of interest to writers: Advancing Women’s Leadership: Own Your Story which starts on April 25, 2014; and Doing Journalism with Data: First Steps, Skills and Tools from May 19  to July 31, 2014 Here is the course description for Advancing Women’s Leadership: Own Your Story: We all have a story. No matter where we are in our life’s journey; no matter our circumstances; we have something to share that has made us who we are. Capturing and examining our life stories increases our resilience and clarifies our place in the world. Join eight leaders and authors in exploring the power of these stories in our lives. Together, we will share our stories of family and community, work and career, college or school, and the financial, physical, and spiritual triumphs and challenges we have faced. Together, we will acknowledge and embrace those stories using them to ground us and to help us shape our futures. Focused on adult women but open to …

The Transformative Power of Journaling

I woke up this morning with an uneasy feeling, one that had been building up through the days. I sat and wrote on my journal. It has been my habit to journal in the morning, before I leave my room for breakfast. But on days when I have to leave early for work, I take the journal with me and write where I can, when I can. Although I had been journaling for several decades now, it never ceases to amaze me how this writing tool can transform the heaviness within into a feeling of lightness; how, when the feelings that had been hidden, can become beacons of light that give direction to my day when they are brought out into the light and expressed in writing . I have written much about this amazing and transformative writing tool in several blog posts. In this post, I would like to feature some quotes on journaling from the book, “Writing and Being,” by Lynn G. Nelson. It is one of the best books on journaling that …

Journaling to Free the Soul

I am now writing on a light-weight, unlined journal. In an earlier blog post, I wrote about moving away from spiral, lined notebooks because I felt the need for change. It wasn’t until I opened the new unlined journal that I realized that there is an advantage to writing on the same type of notebooks. When I first opened the new journal to write an entry, my mind went as blank as the page that was staring back at me – it was as though my mind didn’t know what to do with the blank page. I am also a trying-to-be painter and I usually doodle and play around with paint on drawing books or drawing pads. Thus, when I opened the unlined journal, my mind couldn’t decide whether I would write or draw. Julia Cameron, in The Right to Write, tells us to begin where we are. I tried that and although it took a while before I was able to write anything, eventually I began writing…I wrote the date on the lower right …

Free Teleseminar: Freeing Your Soul Through Writing

Bestselling spiritual writer, teacher, and speaker Mark Matousek will be featured in a free teleseminar on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at  5:30pm US Pacific / 8:30pm US Eastern time. Matousek uses self-inquiry and life writing as a means to achieve personal awakening and creative excellence.  If you can’t join in on the live teleseminar, you will receive an audio recording if you register here. Here’s a copy of the synopsis for the teleseminar: Do you feel liberated by pouring your heart’s deepest truths into a journal? Do you turn to writing as a way to free yourself from old stories, clear negative emotions and open to your higher wisdom? If so, you’re not alone. Our intimate writings are far more than “just” a diary; they can be a powerful spiritual practice that frees us from stuck energies, old ideas and stagnant visions. They can be a gateway to our soul’s liberation. It is time for writing to take a respected place of honor among more venerated spiritual practices like meditation and prayer. Indeed, there is …

Digital Journaling or Pen and Paper?

I won’t debate about which journaling method is easier, smarter, better. Ultimately, I believe that every writer will have his/her own reason to choose one over the other.   I’ve been journaling with pen and paper most of my journaling life – I say most because for brief periods I tried digital journaling. There are many journalers who are all praises for digital journaling.  That’s why I tried it. I journaled for a while in Penzu, but when it didn’t feel right, I thought of trying a private blog with WordPress.com.  That went well for a few days, but I soon got tired of it and something just didn’t fit. I read about OhLife – and tried it. It was great to receive an email everyday, reminding me of the day and date, and the question: “How did your day go?” My journaling stint with OhLife was short and sweet  – in time I felt railroaded by the question,”How did your day go?” When journaling became a mere act of answering OhLife’s question about my …

Digging Through My Journals: Lessons on Choosing the Right Journal

After journaling for decades, I recently hit a plateau and could not get the pen to move on the paper as fast as I used to. After a few months of touch and go, I decided it was time to take a closer look at my journaling habits and perhaps incorporate a few changes here and there. To do that, I thought of going through all my journals – those that I hadn’t burned. I had burned many journals simply because I felt they had served their purpose. The remaining ones were written during the past eight years.  I hadn’t decided what to do with them – it’s not yet their time to get burned, apparently. The notebooks had been stored in a cabinet in my room and it’s been a few years since I’ve looked at them closely. It was surprising to see that through the years I had written on spiral notebooks in different colors but all of the same size. I had forgotten about these notebooks, but upon seeing them again, I …

The Journal as a Stepping Stone

The notebook – no matter what size or shape; whether it’ cheap or expensive – holds many promises for any writer. It can be called a journal or simply a writer’s notebook, but those blank pages can serve a variety of purposes. A journal need not be a mere diary – actually, a journal should not be a mere diary. Writer James Brown uses his journal as a stepping stone, where he explores his ideas and characters for whatever he’s writing. It is, so to speak his “drawing board.”   When writing non-fiction, he writes short biographical sketches of his characters in his notebook and workouts the scenes in the pages of his journals. “What matters is how journaling can help the writer come up with ideas, kind of a warm-up to a bigger process. The next step is building on those ideas, discarding some and fleshing out others, developing characters and motives, and arranging the scenes in a logical, meaningful sequence with a firm sense of a beginning, middle and end,” Brown explained. Brown …

Why Writers Keep Journals

  I don’t remember exactly when I began writing on a journal. Unlike some writers who remember the precise time and day when they first wrote on their first journal, journal writing crept into my life slowly and unceremoniously. But if I am ever to lay claim to the title “Writer,” the only viable reason I can give is that I have been a journal writer most of my life.  It is the only writing activity that I have constantly practiced since I was young. In my younger years, journal writing had been a venting place where I could write without abandon about things that confused, saddened and angered me.  Later on, it became a safe place where I could write about the deep secrets that I could not share with anyone. In my adult years, when I worked as a photojournalist, then as a journalist, the journal was my constant companion through my travels to the jungles, the mountains, and into other people’s lives. I wrote in hotel rooms, at tiny eateries in the …

The Graciousness of Life

“So, Joe, why grow your hair long? Why not just go bald?” Len asked our friend Joe, matter-of-factly.  I heard Joe mutter something, but my mind was far too preoccupied to listen to his answer.  I gazed out the car window, thinking of Joe’s back hair gathered into a thin, foot-long ponytail, his head topped by a glistening crown that was bare of any hair strands. “Just like Pico de Loro,” I thought, sadly anticipating the sight of deforestation at the  two-peaked mountain my mountaineering buddies and I had climbed many years ago.  On this cloudy Friday, my friends Len, Joe and I were finally headed to the beach house owned by Len’s family, and she promised us we would pass by a resort that had been built on a cove near Pico de Loro. I say “finally,” because Len had, for years, been asking me to visit their beach house.  When I acquiesced, I asked her to invite our Tai-Chi teacher-friend Joe. Living in a country that is an archipelago composed of 7,100 islands, …

Five Great E-Courses with Bendy Pricing

I first learned about Satya and Kaspalita last year when I read about their mindful writing practice of “Writing Small Stones.”  That was about two years ago, and the couple’s blog, “Writing Our Way Home,” was a very busy site, and Satya’s name was still Fiona Robyn.  Much has changed in the Buddhist couple’s blog – they now concentrate on giving online courses, and after being ordained as a Buddhist priest, Fiona changed her name to Satya. Now, Satya and Kaspalita are generously offering their E-courses with a “pay as you like” option.  Last year, I enrolled in Kaspa’s  Eastern Therapeutic Writing course, which cost US$70.  It was well worth the money: I was introduced to a few Japanese theories such as Naikan, Waka  and Morita journaling  (I was already familiar with the koan); there were plenty of reading resources and each day an email arrived with the day’s work.  The discussion forum was not very active though, but I think it was because the structure of their E-courses require individual work and much introspection.  This …

Of Synchronicity, Altars, Rituals and Writers

Carl Gustav Jung  coined the term synchronicity  to refer to two or more events that do not seem to be causally related but occur within the same time frame; events that do not seem to have occurred by chance, but when experienced together, create a deep impact on the one experiencing the events. Jung said that synchronistic events are more likely to occur when a person is in a highly charged state of emotional and mental awareness. He used the phrases “acausal connecting principle”, “meaningful coincidence” and “acausal parallelism” to describe synchronicity. As an energy therapist, I am always on the look out for synchronicities.  It was thus no surprise when, after posting my last entry,” A Writer’s Altar,” I opened my email and found the 56th issue of WOW (Women on Writing), waiting to be read. In my previous blog entry, I wrote about being at a crossroads in my life as a writer, of the persistent “call” to create a writer’s altar, and the desire to find the writing path that would fulfill my new-found purpose …

Journaling: A habit worth forming

For the month of June, I will be participating for the first time in the Wordcount Blogathon 2013.  I have participated in blogathons through my other blog, Writing Prompts from Life.  Blogathons are fun and help instill the daily writing habit. For this blogathon, I will be posting about writing practices, tools and exercises. “I really feel lazy to write here but it’s good that I started.”  This was how I began my journal entry last night, before I went to bed.  Could I have gone to bed without writing on my journal?  Yes, but I know it wouldn’t have felt good. Habits are hard to break. I have been journaling for many decades now, but unlike many journal writers, I have no clear memory of the time when I first wrote on a journal.  And I didn’t realize until a few years ago that the habit I had formed through the years offers many benefits other than being a friend when it was hard to find one; listening to my woes at any time of …