A lot of people tell me that they want to journal, but they don’t like what comes out. Their journal writing is boring. It’s trite. It’s repetitive. It’s negative.
Yes, yes, yes and yes. As it should be.
Journaling the unimportant is the most important thing you can do. Journaling regularly like this makes space in your head and your heart for stuff that is truly essential to flow in.
Journaling in Place
So your journaling feels pointless. It’s banal and boring. It’s a load of self-sorry whining. After three pages, there’s a lot of words but none of them will win the Nobel Prize for Literature. You struggled for half an hour and you’ve got zip to show for it. You’ve accomplished nothing.
Imagine judging exercise in the same terms.
I ran three miles on a treadmill today. In place. I mean, I didn’t even go anywhere! What a silly waste of time!
I could have used that half hour for something productive, like cleaning the apartment or returning the overdue library books. Or I could have at least run to someplace useful — like the grocery store. After all, I’ve got dinner to make.
But just like your boring journal entry, the magic of that exercise is invisible.
You can’t see my endorphin buzz from running. You can’t see how my heart is a stronger today, my legs more limber. How I feel simultaneously energized and relaxed in my own skin. How I respond to stress with a shrug and a smile. The metabolic burn that continues throughout the day. How deeply I sleep at night.
Likewise, the benefits of your mundane journal entry take place behind the scenes.
Journaling is exercise. You don’t do it for the words on the page. You do it for the stronger heart, the boosted energy. You do it for the empty space it creates in your head. Space into which really great stuff can then flow. New thoughts. New ideas. New dreams.
Nature abhors a vacuum. When you make a habit of clearing space, your dreams begin to trust you. Like stray cats given milk, they come around more often, stay longer, invite friends. They know you will always make room for them.
The Importance of Broken Bowls
This morning I sat down at the breakfast table to journal. I looked at my bowl of cereal and noticed the chipped ceramic. I proceed to write for ten minutes about how pissed off I am that the beautiful new bowls I finally treated myself to are already ruined. Plus a blue one is no longer with us — a casualty of clumsy dishwashing.
Then cue the drama, and I’m writing about how I’ll never have anything nice in this world, how sharing my space requires all these sacrifices, how my To Do list is eternally recreating itself… and I’ll never win.
I write it all down. It’s trite, ridiculous, boring and self-sorry. And it needs to be written.
A moment later there’s a scrap of silence in my head. Like someone lifted the needle on the record player to keep it from repeating itself in perpetual loop. In that tiny space comes a quiet idea, spoken in the voice of a child: “Hey… maybe you need to write a course on perfectionism.”
Wow. I guarantee you, I would’ve ruminated on the negative, petty crap all morning had I not vomited it all up onto the page. I would likely be moving from one complaint track to the next in my mind, like a broken record.
Instead, I put it on the page. And a brand new idea was born. A tiny new thought that can grow into a fabulous new project I’m passionate about.
Your Dreams are Calling
The beauty of this reality is that you are free to write whatever you need to write. There is no wrong way to journal. Whatever comes out of the pen is whatever needed to come out.
Think about what you’d like to create some room for. What do you wish you had more “time” or attention for? What could you think about if you weren’t thinking about broken bowls?
What dreams do you need to make space for?