In last week’s newsletter, the stage was set to encourage busy moms to use journaling as a means of starting their day with a sense of peace and calm. You might be ready to journal, but wondering how to get started.
It seems obvious, but the first place to start is with a journal, preferably one you absolutely love. The cover, the feel of the pages, the lines (or blank spaces), the binding (wire-bound will lie open flat), and the feel of your pen moving across the pages.
Sometimes figuring out when you are going to have time to journal can be tricky. We often already feel so overwhelmed with our to-do list that journal writing feels like adding another item.
Sure, it can feel like a to-do. I definitely have days that I find myself rolling my eyes as I reach for the pen. I feel burdened and overwhelmed as I take time away from something else I think I “should” be doing.
Then something amazing happens. The thing I thought I needed to do yesterday clears up in my mind. As the blurry edges become crisp, I realize that I don’t need to have it done until the end of the day tomorrow, which means that yes, I can make time to work out, play with the kids, write, whatever, and schedule a time in the next 24 hours to work on my very-important-task.
The process of writing about what’s on your mind in your journal helps to ease the tension that might be lingering behind those blurry images. We often perceive things as much worse than they actually are. When we stop to take a really close look with our pen, the clarity we gain is worth the time we stepped away for a quick minute to write.
Many people think morning is best and in last week’s article, I used the example of taking a few quiet minutes at the start of the day. The morning is great if you can swing it. There are some days that writing in the morning doesn’t work for me, and when that happens, I adjust my schedule and find another time.
I recommend that when you’re getting started, you make a list of all the times you think might work for you. Then try a different one each day and see what feels the best. Do you want to try setting your alarm fifteen minutes earlier? Can you grab a few minutes between school drop off and heading into the office? What if you wrote in your journal after you worked out at the gym, but before you hopped in the shower?
There are many financial experts out there who encourage you to think about where you put your dollars and make small changes. One of my favorites is the reminder to avoid spending five dollars a day on a latte and instead make your own coffee. Use the money you save to put towards retirement.
It’s a similar concept here. What are you currently doing that could be reduced by ten or fifteen minutes for the sack of clarity and peace of mind? Could you cut your Facebook time by five minutes? Maybe you could make your lunch the night before and save yourself ten extra minutes in the morning?
Being creative with your time is one piece of getting starting with your journal. As you experiment with times that work for you, you eventually get to a place where the only thing left to do is write.
Julia Cameron suggests in “The Artist’s Way” that we free-write three full pages first thing each morning (as noted above, adjust this time if needed for the lifestyle of a busy mom. Better to write at 3pm than not at all). We don’t censor, we don’t plan, we just write about anything and everything that comes to mind. The process can provide healing for past hurts and dilemmas, and clarity for moving ahead.
Another possibility is the use of journal prompts to get your thoughts going. Many of us find a blank page intimidating. We may be a little uneasy about what might show up if we free write and as a consequence, we simply never begin.
If you are having trouble figuring out what to write or don’t feel 100% safe that your journal is private at the start of your practice, it’s a good idea to use prompts. Prompts can get you into the habit of journaling by having you respond to questions, taking the pressure off of free writing. Over time, you will naturally rely less on the prompts and start to write what comes to mind.
You can download a free list of prompts at www.saramarchessault.com and get things started! Plus, this download has a recording to help you relax into your journal. Let me know how it goes and next week, we’ll talk about maintaining your practice. Enjoy!