When I was thirteen years old, my mom gave me a journal. You've seen them, small note books with a lock and key. I loved it. I imagined myself as Louisa May Alcott, all tucked away in my garrett writing the details of my life for some future person to read and be awed by my life. Just like I had been awed by Little Women. The little journal didn't last long. Soon I was buying bigger ones. Before I knew it I had become a Journal Junkie. Page after page were filled with teenage wishes, angst, disappointments and successes.
As life progressed my journals became the oxygen of my soul. Like a person on life support, I needed my daily drip of journaling. On the pages I could celebrate, dream, grieve and thrive. Sometimes the mere act of a scribbled paragraph could help me get started when everything in life felt stalled.
Sorting out those stalls didn't come easily,copius pages of circular babbling were my norm. Then one day I happened on a book in a stationery store, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. Her book was the key to my stalled days release.
I didn't grab it at first. I hovered near it sniffing candles, and looking at pens. The subtitle, Freeing the Writer Within froze me. I was a lot of things but I wasn't a writer. No matter how many times life tried to show me I could be a writer, I somehow refused to accept the invitation. Yet, I couldn't leave the store without it. I even tried to leave, but a copy was up by the cash register. I took it as a sign and brought it home.
Like all books that change my life, I postponed reading it. One afternoon while on carpool duty, I grabbed it to glance at while I waited for my car to snake through the pick up line after school. Of course, you have probably guessed, the book wasn't for writers, it was for me, the hidden Journal Junkie. You see when I read the word writer in the subtitle, it believed it implied publishable books, complete with signing events, and swag bags. Nothing like that was on my radar screen. Yet, that wasn't what Ms.Goldberg was sharing. Her goal is to free any soul who wants or needs to put words on a page. I couldn't wait to get home and put her technique into action.
Technique That You Can Do
In a nut shell, the technique is to write non-stop, un-edited, un-filtered. It is your hand, a pen, paper and time. Pick a topic and write your thought stream. Don't fix the spelling or syntax. Don't stop and puzzle over the next word. Just let your soul be free.
You can write about happy experiences, sad ones, scary things. Nothing is off limits - except the computer keyboard. To obtain efficacy with the technique, which is to free your words and writing style, it is best to use pen and paper. The magic of the ink making the swirls and words makes you an extension of the page in a way a screen and keyboard can not.
As the world is working to open up after a pandemic, this would be a good time to write your story. To share your experiences, even if it is only in a journal. You lived through something remarkable. Why not honor the best and the worst of it for generations to come?
Grab a pen, a note pad or journal, set a timer for 20 minutes, and write. Let out the memories and the emotions both happy and sad. Ink it all over the page. Don't fix it. Just let it go. I promise you, when you are done with each sitting, a crazy, amazing miracle will happen.
Not long after you write, a wave of joy, relief, insight and delight will flow into you. Even if the memories were sad, difficult or down right depressing that same joy and relief will wash over you and feel astonishing. It becomes free therapy. It has happened to me multiple times over the years. Have a wonderful time. Become a Journal Junkie. Let me know how it goes!