Journaling. I am in awe of how it can unlock parts of you that you didn’t know were there. You can peel back the layers (lot’s of layers… in fact there are an endless number of them). There is so much to learn about ourselves and most of us have barely scratched the surface.
Over the last few years I have read loads of self-development books, journaled like crazy and really turned my gaze inward and allowed me to get to know myself.
I finally realised that I (like a lot of people) had been walking around in my body, not even realising that she had been sending me signs and signals, trying to get my attention.
And golly did she get my attention in 2015 when my neurological disease (I didn’t know I had) suddenly progressed and frightened the life out of me, and set my path on the course of self-compassion, self-worth and self-belief.
I find it incredibly fascinating how complicated and intricate we humans are. Often we don’t even realise that we are a multi-layered maze of ideas and feelings and we don’t take enough time to get to know ourselves. Really know our true selves.
We wonder why we aren’t happy, never quite satisfied, bored, frustrated, tired.
For me journaling helps me clear my easily overwhelmed mind (easily overwhelmed because I have a million thoughts a minute). It helps me find clarity and it allows creativity to move to the forefront of my mind.
My journaling looks a lot different to my early years when I first started a journal.
In the past I had a lot of roadblocks keeping me from journaling effectively. I would worry about the structure. I wouldn’t know how to start. Was I doing it right? I was totally (and unnecessarily) judging myself.
I would mostly just recount my days rather than letting my actual feelings spill onto the page. It was rigid, boring and wasn’t actually adding any value to my life. So for a long time I gave it up and opted for listmaking instead.
Recounting your day isn’t a bad thing, especially if you are on a trip or are keeping track of what you have been up to for a deeper reason than just for the sake of writing it down. If you’re adding value to your life and if it lights you up then you’re on the right track.
For me only writing about what I’ve been up to was keeping me stuck and preventing me from digging deep and making breakthroughs in my life.
Once I cut through the fear of my own judgment and the terror of crystallising my innermost thoughts and feelings in ink, the breakthroughs started to occur.
There are many styles and techniques when it comes to journaling and to be honest, in my opinion there are no rigid rules when it comes to these techniques – they are just a guide to give you a basis or loose framework to work with.
My only rule is if it’s adding value to your life then keep going. If it isn’t, then try a different way. Keep trying and experimenting until you find your perfect fit. You may even find your style of journaling changes throughout the month or years – and all that is fine.
In this post I’m going to focus on…
This style of journaling is simple: you write for a specified time. You don’t stop until the time runs out. You don’t read it until you’re done. Sounds simple and it is when you get used to it, but for me who used to look at a blank page and wonder what I’m supposed to write, this was a bit of a challenge.
The trick is it doesn’t actually matter what you write, it’s the magic that happens as a result of the process.
For me free writing allows me to get all the noise out of my head and allows those deep rooted ideas to surface. I find more clarity and conviction in my ideas and thoughts.
It turns the volume down on thought patterns and stories that are usually set on replay and cluttering my brain.
It leaves me feeling spacious and mindful, allowing me to take in the present moment more easily and leaves me less overwhelmed.
Sometimes I even find a nugget of wisdom or insight written in my free writing journal, as though I have peeled back a layer.
Free Writing Variations
Free Writing about how you feel right now
Maybe you are feeling angry or frustrated. Try free writing all of thosr thoughts out. You can brain dump all of that energy and make space for calm, you may feel lighter and you can move past the frustration or anger.
How about setting the timer for 3 minutes where you write out everything you’re grateful for? Tune into a sense of gratitude and just start writing.
Free Writing about a specific topic
There are an infinite number of topics you can free write about. Parenthood, travel, your wishlist, world issues, nature, a book you want to write… let your imagination lead the way.
Free Writing in different locations
Try changing up where you journal and see if your surroundings influence your words. Write out in nature in the fresh air, the beach, a garden. Try a sunlit room in your home. Morning. Night, under the stars (I want to try this one).