All posts tagged: journals

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. …

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! …

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 …

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 …

Writers and Their Journals

There are various ways to keep a journal, and a variety of reasons why a writer must keep one. Poet, essayist and playwright Shiela Bender poignantly remembers a day during Ron Carlson’s writer’s workshop in the summer of 1994. It was the day when Carlson went around the room and asked each person to describe the his/her writing journal. On her turn, Bender had to confess that she kept a box where “scraps of paper on which I have written things – bank deposit slips, napkins, other people’s business cards, other stuff.” When asked how she uses the box, Bender replied that she goes through it every now and then when she’s in between projects or when she’s stuck on something she’s doing.

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …