Journaling: a Journey Through the Senses

Journaling: a Journey Through the Senses

This is a guest post from Nicole Tilde, who shares her unique take on journaling and love of writers with us. Many thanks to Nicole for contributing to Journaling Saves!

I see a crack in the window pane, bricks the color of fading clay and the green husks of Magnolia leaves bouncing outside. A flashing cursor prompting me to move, go forward and seek.

The muffled sounds of cars moving down the distant highway and my cat snoring beside me are soothing. Sounds I can remember so well that they often blend in, hardly noticed until I cup a proverbial hand to my ear.

Journaling does this for me, it cups my ear and I stand in attention. It brings sound closer and commands me to notice what I notice.


Digital Journaling: Make the Switch

Digital Journaling: Make the Switch

Let’s give a warm welcome to today’s guest poster, the talented journalist Sam Lytle! Read on for his words on today’s journaling technology.

Making the switch to digital journaling? These are the features you should look for.

Technology: A Blessing and a Curse

Depending on who you talk to, it can be almost equally argued that the progression of technology has either a positive or detrimental effect on society. With social media we are able to connect like never before, but at the same time less attention is paid to grammar and punctuation and now much of our communication is in emoticons, LOL’s and quotes credited to people that never existed.

This information revolution has taken a similar toll on journal keeping. Never has it been so easy to write in your personal journal at any time and at any place. Conversely, never has conveying our deepest inner thoughts and feelings been less personal.

I have filled many handwritten journals. They are full of funny and awkward moments, entries that span dozens of pages and hand drawn doodles. In the classic “What would you take if your house was on fire and you could only grab one thing?”, for me, it would be the box that holds these books.


How to Break in a Blank Journal

How to Break in a Blank Journal

This is a guest post from the lovely Melissa Donovan, founder of We’re not related, but we should be! Melissa has some fabulous tips on how to overcome that blankaphobia that can plague us with a new journal. Thanks so much to Melissa for contributing this helpful post. Read on! ~Kristin

The blank page is legendary among writers. Some of us embrace it and the infinite possibilities that it holds. That blank page is ours for the taking, and we look forward to filling it with our wonderful, magical words.

But there are a lot of us who dread the blank page and even fear it. How can we turn it into something beautiful or worthwhile?

And if a single, blank page is frightening, then a blank journal must be downright terrifying: a whole book full of blank pages! And we’re supposed to fill it up with wit and wonder? It doesn’t seem possible.

But it is.


The Art of Recalibration

The Art of Recalibration

My Dad has a strained relationship with his GPS.

He calls her “Mona,” and her directional narratives are usually patient. Every once in awhile, my Dad opts for a different route. Say he wants to avoid a dead armadillo blocking the road. Mona then suggests — with escalating urgency — that he perform a U-turn at the nearest opportunity so she can get him back on track.

My Dad is convinced she gets mad at him when he keeps going straight. She huffs in exasperation, her tone reproachful: “Recalibrating…” Mona doesn’t like recalibrating, but she does it when necessary.

I’ve been thinking about recalibration a lot lately. About adjusting expectations. About reconfiguring the game plan.

We humans are a delightfully adaptable bunch. Given the choice, many of us would prefer to stick to the status quo. We prefer stability and comfort, but we adapt efficiently to our changing environment.

The new relationship that is going in a different direction than expected. An illness that requires total re-arrangement of calendar and lifestyle. A treasured job suddenly gone. A relative recovering from a natural disaster on your couch. Winning the lottery (okay, I wish I had to adapt to that one.)


#14: Journaling Benefits for Cancer Patients

#14: Journaling Benefits for Cancer Patients

The is a guest post by Jennifer Miller from the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. Many thanks to Jennifer for sharing her expertise on this helpful topic!

For decades, teachers have been encouraging their students to write down their thoughts. In fact, so-called “journaling” has become a requirement in many school English classes.

But writing down how one feels doesn’t just benefit healthy adolescents, says a 2008 study published in The Oncologist. It has also been proven to help cancer patients in the throes of treatment to better learn to cope with their diagnosis and understand how cancer has changed them and changed their lives.

The study, conducted at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University, encouraged patients who were waiting for an oncology appointment to take 20 minutes to complete an expressive writing exercise.

Study leaders weren’t looking for the facts about the patient’s cancer but for words that told how they feel about living with cancer and what lies ahead.

Previous studies had shown the researchers that this kind of writing would have health benefits. The outcome of the Lombardi study concurred.

Cancer patients note that when they took the time to write, it forced them to think about family, work, spirituality, and the future, but not in a negative way.

By analyzing the themes, words, and phrases of the writings of 63 participants, researchers were able to determine that most (60) of the essays indicated a positive transformation in the writer, resulting in improved quality of life.

Choosing Journal Topics for Patients

Potential writers wonder how to start journaling and how to keep the journal going.

Researchers say that there aren’t any particular guidelines writers should follow and that journaling needn’t be an everyday thing. Journal writing should be flexible and fit the emotional needs of the cancer patient.

The writer may simply not feel like writing one day while on another they may write several pages. That’s okay, psychologists say. It’s not a school assignment and shouldn’t be treated like one. Rather, journaling should be viewed as a positive outlet, even though all the writing inside that little book may not be of a positive nature.

If a writer needs some journal prompts to get started, a good thing to write about might include the benefits of the illness including how it has caused the patient to reconsider relationships, work, religion, and other aspects of life.

It might help to write about the people who have surrounded the patient during their ordeal and how they’ve provided physical and spiritual support.

And if death is inevitable, as is usually the case with mesothelioma patients, it’s okay to write about what the future holds.

Some patients may want to write about the rigors of mesothelioma treatment or the reactions they get from strangers who recognize they’re bald and suffering the effects of chemotherapy.

And it’s perfectly acceptable to write about the unfairness of a cancer diagnosis and the anger, denial, and sadness that go with it.

There’s no doubt that cancer is life-changing, but addressing those life changes through writing can do a world of good.

All in all, most psychologists agree that regardless of what lands on those pages or how many times a week the patient takes the time to jot down a few words, the results will be positive and just another important step towards confronting cancer.