The value of keeping a journal
(Would you like to start journaling? Come to my Introduction to Journaling Workshop on Saturday 28 March 2020)
This is a photo of my journals.
I show it in my workshops when we're talking about journaling as a regular, long-term practice. Some of the writers nod knowingly as they have similar piles of notebooks at their place. Others will say, 'Oh gosh. Is it worth my starting a journal now? I should have begun journaling years ago.'
First of all, 'should' is not a good word to use: in fact my counselor, Jane McPherson, who supported me during my breast cancer journey, and who features in my book Welcome to the Amazon Club, always told me, 'Should equals shit' which shocked me at the time (because I said 'should' a lot) but I now understand it to mean, among other things, 'you feel you ought to have a go at something but you probably won't.'
I am here to tell you that the practice of journaling is something you can take up any time. It doesn't matter if you are just coming to it at the age of 80, or you're 20 and plan to document your life. I started at the age of 17, at high school, and continued regular journaling right up to the present day with a few gaps here and there.
And I can honestly say, hand on heart, that being able to confide to my journal the anguish, anger, fear, sadness, and trauma of my breast cancer was one of the best therapies I had at the time. I could write exactly how I felt without fear of recrimination or criticism or judgment. If I was having a bad cancer day, my journal understood, whereas sometimes people around me didn't always get it, despite their best intentions and kindness.
My journal was my best friend, my confidante, someone I turned to at the times of deepest despair, or during the heights of hope and joy.
And of course you can always turn your journals into books. Many people do, and I did with both of my books Welcome to the Amazon Club and The Pink Party. Using your journals in this way creates compelling reading. One of the most common responses from readers of both books was, 'I couldn't put it down. I just had to know what was going to happen to Jane next.' Amazon Club in particular was a real 'page turner' because of its day to day, journal-style.
Even if you never turn your journals over to the public eye (and that in itself is a process requiring careful thought because one of the main values of a journal is it is so intensely private), keeping one is worth doing and it can be life-changing.
In my Introduction to Journaling workshop on Saturday 28 March 2020 we'll be looking at how the practice of regular journaling can enhance creativity, encourage self exploration and discovery, and - believe it or not - improve your health and well-being!
Now, ain't that sumthin'!
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