I’m excited to give you another chapter in my Journaling Interviews series. In this series, I will be interviewing all kinds of journalers about their experiences journaling, their personal roadblocks and successes.
This time we’re conversing with Jenn of the blog Live Art.fully. Jenn was gracious enough to share her personal journaling story, as well as her roadblocks and some tips for newbies.
I hope what you take away from these interviews is that there is no wrong way to keep a journal and that your journal should be an extension of you. There are as many ways to journal as there are journalers. We all find our own path. And yet we all also have some things in common when it comes to journaling. Read on.
How did you get started journaling?
When I was about 11, I was given a tiny white Precious Moments diary with a gold lock and key. I had brothers and a sister, so the lock and key freed me to use it without fear of repercussions.
How long have you been journaling?
20 years, about the last 12 of those in earnest.
How often do you write?
Whenever and however often I can, want to, or need to. If I go too long, I feel unsettled and unable to process or think. Writing calms and centers me.
Where do you write?
Anywhere & everywhere! Home (couch, bed, kitchen island), beach, park, playground while supervising my daughters, in the car (when my husband drives), on vacation, coffee shops, restaurants. I almost always take my journal with me when I go anywhere.
Do you prefer morning or night?
There’s pretty much nothing I prefer about mornings. 😉
Night owl here, so I do a lot of my journaling at night, sometimes after my family is all asleep I sit on the rug in my kitchen and write with my back resting on my island, a cup of tea next to me. I love writing on my couch, next to the open living room window, hearing the rain pour down outside in the evenings. Pretty much, I write when I can find the time. I’m a busy mom who works part time and homeschools, so I fit it in when and where I can.
Do you have a preferred journal or notebook?
I’ve gotten very picky with my journals. They must be hard covers, spiral bound, and roughly 7×10. I usually use the Canson Sketch Journal, found at Barnes & Noble or Michael’s. I make my own covers.
Do you use prompts or free writing or a combination?
I usually do not use prompts, but once in a while I’ll write a quote that is speaking to me and use that as a starting point. I do advocate the use of prompts, especially for the purpose of writing for healing.
Have you ever found it necessary to take a break from journaling?
I do “stall” sometimes and find I just can’t seem to write. It happens very rarely and sometimes I don’t know why until later. Just recently, I went about a week or two without writing much, and I hated it. I was waiting for an important doctor’s appointment and was apparently “holding my breath” both in life and on the page. Now that the appointment is over and I have been diagnosed, I am back to writing and processing my new diagnosis.
Has journaling contributed to any important changes or events in your life?
Yes, too many to talk about here, but journaling has been a vital tool for healing from a miscarriage and chain of surgeries, losing my favorite grandmother, dealing with chronic pain, forgiving those who’ve hurt me, and coming to important realizations or “light-bulb moments”.
What has surprised you most about journaling?
How powerful it is. I started it as a schoolgirl hobby, listing boys I had a crush on and what I wore to school. My the time I got to college, I realized that journaling is not just for growing up, but for growing. It is an indispensable part of my life now, how I process and come to terms with things, how I accept and let go, how I savor the joys and heal from the sorrows.
What’s your biggest journaling challenge that you’ve had to overcome?
I used to worry about who might read my journals after I die. I would sometimes censor what I really wanted to say, both for fear of hurting someone and in trying to protect them somehow from the parts of myself I didn’t think were so pretty. I’ve now gotten to the place where I say what I want to say about myself, my thoughts, and my life. I have also made a conscious choice not to vent or write negatively about others in my journal. I might process a relationship on paper, but I use other outlets for venting.
What’s your biggest journaling roadblock or hurdle?
I don’t always write daily, but when I go back to write again, if I’ve missed a day, I can’t stand the idea of not documenting the missed day. I often get to the end of a journal and go back through with tiny flaggies and stick them on the pages I need to finish. I just can’t seem to file the completed journal until I’ve filled in every possible blank, which can take a long time to do when I’m also trying to move on in the next journal. I just don’t have the luxury with my current schedule to always finish what I start on the page. This is something I’d like to overcome.
Advice for journaling newbies?
Don’t buy a journal you will be intimidated by. If it’s too pretty, too fancy or the wrong size, you probably won’t write in it. Pick something you feel free to make your mark on, and then do it! As you journal, you will learn what the right type of journal or notebook is for you. Also, don’t lock yourself into what you think the “right” way to journal is.
You don’t have to write everyday, always at the same time, or sitting at a desk. Journaling is a fantastic journey of self-expression, so do just that. My journals are filled with ticket stubs, stickers & scrapbooking elements, emails, greeting cards, magazine articles, and lots of writing.
Sometimes I don’t have a lot of time but I want to capture the day, so I will just journal in bullet point format for that day. Do what works for you & “be yourself”, don’t try to cram someone else’s style into your journals. They’re for you and by you and should reflect you.