If you embark on  writing a journal it is best not to read it back for at least three weeks. It’s a bit like putting some clear water between you and the shore, that sense of distance will, of course, aid objectivity and that’s what keeping a journal is all about, in my opinion.

That seems a strange statement to have written when the journal is totally subjective, in one sense. I write it every day and it’s full of my enthusiasm, anger, angst, fear, excitement and so on; it’s an extraordinarily intense document and would bore the pants off another reader I am certain.It outlines my thoughts about all aspects of my life and it’s filled with plans, disappointments, setbacks and successes. So yes, it’s subjective. Yet when I finally get down to revisiing what I have written then I can see patterns emerging very clearly. I often discuss the art of keeping a journal when I mentor new writers at the writing retreat

Julia Cameron, in the book The Artist’s Way, suggests reading through your journal with two coloured pencils and highlighting insights that appear on the page in one colour and the other one underlines actions. This is where the objectivity emerges and I can see just how hard it can be to pull oneself out of malaise and how the end of my journal writing for the day always finishes with a call to action. I didn’t realise this but obviously it is important to motivate oneself to keep going. It’s there every day as if the journal is my meditation before starting each day.

What I have noticed is my flouncy way of thinking in black and white, you know the child-like comments such as: ‘I hate this; that’s rubbish; this is so stupid; I love this job; I’m bored’ and it takes some skill to pick through all the mess. You might wonder why anyone would bother to sift through the wreckage but without this beachcombing nothign is resolved and the same blocks, fears and negativity swirls around and eventually strangles growth.

One of the most important purposes of keeping a journal is that it is a sounding board; we can say whatever we like, vent our spleen, kick and scream and no one will know. There is no one to remind you of what you said, or the fact you have changed your mind, but the thoughts, feelings, reactions have been put on the page and in my book, it is much better to acknowledge them than allow fears to fester unchecked.

Of course, in my journal I record wonderful moments, triumphs, feelings of elation, surprise, achievement and they allow me to grow and develop in a thoughtful manner. Even when things are at their lowest, the journal is the constant and it’s there I will analyse what has gone wrong, when things are off track, when a change of approach is required.

It doesn’t really matter how you approach journal writing, you can add visuals, you can maintain a photographic record and keep the words to a minimum; representing a a period of time visually can offer a powerful insight into what your days are about, what they contain, what priorities have been made. They can show where time is wasted and can really assist in making us focus once again on what really should be our priority: to be creative.

Creativity is energy, it is precious, it needs to be nurtured, it is constantly changing and as Einstein said, ‘In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.’ My journal shows me the way and I wouldn;t be without it.

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