I encourage people all the time to call friends to talk with them. It’s so important to have a place to spill your guts when you’re trying to figure something out or you need some relief from the emotions and chaos. My father died last week and I found myself waking in the night thinking about him. I needed to process and the world was asleep. My journal served me well. Writing from 4am to 6am got all that stuff out of my heart and head and down onto paper. I could rest again.

Your journal can be a trusted friend that is always present and willing to listen.

You can scream, cry, and cuss in your journal. You can CAPITALIZE and write in bold, and use lots of exclamation marks!!!!! You can stab it, pound on it, and scribble on it. You can write in the margins and with different colors and swirls. You can keep it private or you can share it. You can frame it or you can burn it. It will be a record of your journey. If you keep it, you can review it years later to see how far you’ve come or notice that you’re still dealing with some of the same things. It’s yours to do with as you wish.

Getting Started With a Written Journal

  • The first thing to remember about journal writing is: Don’t box yourself in with rules about how and when to write. If you feel like writing in the morning, then write in the morning. Or at night, write then. If you don’t have anything to say, you don’t have to write. You can view your journal as a non-demanding friend who just smiles and waits for you to visit.
  • Be completely honest with your thoughts and feelings. One of the biggest benefits to journaling is getting all of what you think out of your head and heart and onto paper. For that reason, you want to make steps to assure your journal is safe from prying, curious, or judgmental eyes. If this means putting it under lock and key, do so. Because the journal is holding the depth of you, in all your vulnerability, treat it as sacred space.
  • Remember to hold your experiences in a compassionate, accepting way. This is good practice at any time and especially when you’re being so vulnerable.
  • Write down your thoughts and then let them go. You may be curious years later and want to look back at this time in your life, but while you’re “in it” you might want to just write as a form of release and not revisit them.

A collage or visual journal is also a great way to process what’s going on in your heart and head.

I’ll share more about that in a future article. For now, I hope you’ll allow yourself  the gift of a written journal. After all… it’s your life spilled out on paper to examine in new ways.