A writer instinctively knows or quickly learns that he can learn just about anything through writing about it. In his book Writing To Learn, William Zinsser says, “… we write to find out what we know and what we want to say. I thought of how often as a writer I had made clear to myself some subject I had previously known nothing about by just putting one sentence after another – by reasoning my way. I thought of how often the act of writing even the simplest document – a letter for instance – had clarified my half-formed ideas. Writing and thinking and learning were the same process.”
Not only can we learn about the outside world and complex subjects through writing, we can also look inward. Journaling is the act of putting pen to paper to learn about yourself.
I’ve kept a journal for as long as I can remember. It’s a living document, not a diary, but place to pose questions, to theorize, to create, and even to play. My journal holds the high and low points of my life. It shows what I’ve learned over the years, as well as what I’ve appreciated and what my hopes are for the future.
It’s not as structured as a habit. Journaling doesn’t have to be a daily commitment. Some weeks you may write every day, and then not again for a month or longer. The value of journaling isn’t in the frequency of writing, but the process of discovery.
Stacie turned to journaling after being let go from a job she hated. On one hand she felt rejected and hurt to be handed her pink slip; but on the other, she was relieved to be free. Stacie didn’t want to repeat this job experience. She wanted to be satisfied with her work and enjoy the people she worked with. Instead of looking for the next available employment, she sat down with pen and notebook and started to write.
At first, angry words filled the page. She deserved so much better. As she wrote, anger gave way to wondering what a better job might look like. Days later, feeling much better about the situation, she began pondering what elements she liked from previous employment. As she jotted down job responsibilities from a 15-year work history, one thing stood out like a beacon. The writing and creating were the best parts! Stacie left customer service work behind and never looked back. Journaling helped her discover that she was a writer at heart.
Find yourself a good spiral-bound notebook. I’m partial to the spiral on top so that it doesn’t interfere with how my hand rests on the page. Add a pen that feels good in your writing hand. Scrawl a date across the top, and just start writing. Let your heart lead the way.
What will you discover about yourself this year?