I started daily journal writing several years ago, although I’m not sure what I do can be called journaling. I follow the advice of Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way and write ‘morning pages’ and dump whatever is in my brain onto sheets in a cheap notebook.
Whatever you want to call what I do every morning, this is what I’ve learned from the practice:
1. Don’t buy fancy leather-bound journals.
I won’t use fancy journals. I like them. Most are beautiful, and that’s the problem. What am I going to do with them when they’re full?
I’m not one to keep things unless they serve a purpose. And keeping full journals doesn’t make sense to me. Besides, I feel like leaving evidence laying out in the open. Why would I do that?
Anything I’ve written that isn’t part of a book that I’m trying to sell gets shredded. That’s my rule. I haven’t disposed of any of my journals yet, but it may be impossible to shred a leather-bound journal when the time comes.
2. I can write two pages first thing in the morning. That’s it.
According to The Artist’s Way, morning pages should be three pages long. Sorry. I did that for months but had trouble getting the third page done. Then I thought, what’s going to happen if I write only two pages? Will the journaling police show up at my door and haul me away?
I decided to take my chances, and now I write just two pages each morning, and the stress is off. But I admit, some days two pages is still a lot. I’m a woman of few words (most of the time), so filling up two pages with what I’m thinking about early in the morning can be a challenge.
3. I’m an editor even when writing down random thoughts.
I worry about how things sound, how readers may interpret them.
Readers? What readers? It’s my journal. I don’t want anyone reading it, not even me.
But I still worry about someone coming along and reading my pages, so I make it a point not to use names, only pronouns—he, she, they, etc. I even stay away from saying “my sister” since I have only one, and it would be obvious who I was writing about.
So, using pronouns is the best I can do to protect the innocent (and possibly the guilty). And if someone still feels I was writing about them, that’s their problem. I mean, how narcissistic does one have to be to think I’m always using precious journal space to vent about them?
In the end, I’ve decided it’s not something I should worry about. If people are reading my journals, I’m probably dead anyway.
More on Journaling from Sheroes of Small Business
If you want to learn more about journaling, please join Delores Garcia and me on the June 8th episode of the Sheroes of Small Business podcast. We discuss this topic from different viewpoints and experiences. (SPOILER: I’m a little more serious on the podcast. But just a little.)