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8 Great Journaling Tips
By Catherine Franz
Mix a martini, don't
forget the olives, or pour yourself a tea, relax and enjoy!
There are no hard-set rules for keeping a journal. How often you write, time you spend, and how rigorously you maintain a regular journaling schedule are matters of personal choice and circumstance. Therefore, it is important to find what works for you. Here are nine guidelines to assist you.
1. Allow for regular writing times. Find a time of day that works well for you and use this time every day. As much as possible, control interruptions during this time.
2. Give yourself an inviting writing environment. If you need quiet space, find a time that you can write without noise and interruption. If the hum of the world around you is soothing rather than distracting, plan to write during a time when other people will be engaged in their own work and not looking over your shoulder.
3. Develop a centering ritual. Associating journaling with another pleasurable habit can guide to strengthen the routine and create an atmosphere of self-nurturing. When you are ready to write in your journal, consider pouring yourself a cup of tea or coffee. Play relaxing music. Take a moment for meditation, deep breathing, or prayer.
4. Prompt your writing with a routine self-reflection question: Triggers such as "What are you feeling right now?" or "What's on your mind?" Anais Nin suggests asking "what feels vivid, warm, or near to you at the moment?"
5. Write because you desire to write, because you know itís a comfortable place to be you. Don't allow journaling to become an obligation or chore. Remember not to demand more of yourself than you can give. If you have missed a day, or several days, accept that journaling, like life, is imperfect and go on. Write the next time you have a chance.
6. Create a positive feedback loop. As you continue to use the journal as an opportunity to be with and learn about yourself, you will find that the practice gains a momentum all its own. Discovering your own hidden depths piques your curiosity and stimulates you to continue, setting up a positive feedback loop between your conscious and unconscious mind.
7. Emphasize process rather than product. An important purpose of journal writing is simply expressing and recording your thoughts and feelings. Concentrate on the process of writing -- keeping the flow of words rather than worrying about the result. If your goal is to have specific audiences read your piece, go back to it later and edit it. Use your journal as the raw material for more polished writing.
8. Learn from your own experiences. It is always good to reread your entries a month or so down the road. It demonstrates your growth -- a nice pat on the back for all of us. Look for patterns and correlations. What improved, what stayed the same? Learning from yourself is so much more gentler on the self-esteem. Use objectivity to review your life from a different perspective with hindsight.
Relax, have fun, and don't forget to laugh! Journal writing is its own reward. Once you get started, your journal will become another one of your good friends -- one who is always available and never presents a deafening ear. Your journal loves you for being you.
Catherine Franz has taught journaling for the last 15 years, including two US Presidents and First Ladies, and hundreds of workshops internationally. She currently has two informational documents available on journaling at: http://www.abundancecenter.com/Store/main.htm.
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