I’ve kept a journal at several key times in my life, but never really threw myself into it until 1998, when I read The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. If you’ve never read the book, well, you should. I don’t want to go into my "frimmin‘" superlatives here, but The Artist’s Way is a book that truly changed my life. It’s largely a workbook, filled with exercises to do. Unlike other spiritual self-improvement workbooks,such as Brezhny’s Pronoia, these exercises aren’t meant to entertain you by reading about them… they are really meant to be done, and the more of them you do, the more you will discover about yourself and the more you open up to Isness.

The primary exercise of The Artists’s Way is journaling, specifically a style of journaling Cameron calls "morning pages," writing out exactly three pages by hand, at the very beginning of the day, keeping the pen moving… no censorship, no editing, no revision, no effort to record the previous day’s events. The only goals were complete honesty and stream-of-consciousness itself. Morning pages is essentially letting your soul "take a dump" just as your body does. 

As for the other exercises, a group of friends and I regularly met to discuss them and do them. More often than not, though, I was the only one who did them, and (surprise!) I was the one who benefited most. The effects were tremendous. Really, the me of of 2007 2008 is pretty different from the me of 1998. The Artist’s Way had a part to play in that.

After a year or so, I began doing the morning pages less faithfully, and although I still journaled sporadically, when I started blogging, my private journaling virtually came to a standstill.

One of the reasons why I’ve been blogging less, is that I’ve started journaling again. My style of journaling now isn’t morning pages, per se, but it is just as uncensored and spontaneous. What I do now is carry my oh-so-trendy little Moleskine notebook with me almost everywhere I go. When waiting for someone or something, I have time to write a little. After a meal, I often have time to write a page or so. (Moleskine pages are pretty small). Sometimes I’ll make several little entries in a day. Other times, I’ll go several days between entries.

Is it dangerous to keep my most private thoughts and feelings in a concrete form where they could easily be read by others?  Not really. Since I started journaling again, it’s been in Esperanto!

10 thoughts on “Journaling

  1. I’m almost neurotic about it. I HAVE to use a micro roller pen. Uniball makes some good ones. In a pinch, I can use a gel pen, but I hate them, their lines are far too heavy for me, because I have a very heavy handwriting. Ordinary ballpoints are out-of-question. I don’t consider them fit for human use. Fountain pens are rare, messy, high-maintenance, and usually too heavy.

    Unfortunately, it seems that roller pens are getting scarcer these days. I have to go to OfficeMax or Office Depot for mine. I can theoretically write with a pencil, but my insistence on a super-fine point means that I need to sharpen after every paragraph, and my heavy hand makes mechanical pencils unusable, because I’d break the tip once per sentence.

    Nope. Only micro rollers for me.

  2. Ha. I knew it.

    Uniball Vision Micro for me. Can’t stand the micro.

    Pilot Razor Point is second choice. Not waterproof but a lovely writing instrument.

    Are you right- or left-handed?

    I can’t see my cursor in this box. Is that on purpose? It’s a little disconcerting (not that I can’t deal with it.)

  3. I’m a rightie.

    I don’t know what’s with the cursor. Noticed it myself.

    “Uniball Vision Micro for me. Can?t stand the micro.”

    I understand the first part of what you wrote. Seems like we both like Uniball Micros… but what do you mean that you can’t stand the micro?

    Something else you might enjoy knowing is sometimes I turn the notebook sideways and write perpendicular to the usual pattern… (I like the square and the blank Moleskines)

  4. I love the micro. Can’t stand the onyx. My bad… it’s been a long day.

    Funny I also prefer blank pages or grid. Never thought of writing crosswise.

  5. Hi Jon and a. julie
    I’ve been puzzled about the missing cursor too, but thanks a.julie for mentioning it. I can type something anyway!! Not sure were where my email address should go without a prompt, second or third box? I picked the second.

    Jon, I have also read The Artist’s Way and it really helped me. I have always wanted to write historical novels, but had a permanent case of writers’ block. Then I started doing the morning pages.

    One day I was just fooling around with a crazy story about a 17th century Flemish painter and out of nowhere I produced a complete outline after having been stuck for two years of painstaking research (the crazy story really happened). A few days later a Dutch publisher of books for children and teens announced a contest for a 15,000 word historical novel about a person in Dutch/Flemish history who is not too well known. So I’m writing like crazy now, have to finish it before october 1st. 2008.

    To get a feel of what life was like in those times I write with a nib and bister (brown ink made from casings of walnut), but for the stream-of-consciousness writing, I like a Bic ballpoint most. (black, has to be black!)

  6. Nice testimonial about the smashing of your writer’s block.

    I also have to have black ink.

    I’m going to switch the theme here in a bit… that should alleviate the problems with the comment boxes.

  7. I’ve been meaning to pick up that book for some time. Your post just pushed me to add it to my list. Glad you’re journaling… I’ve started doing the same – there’s just some things that aren’t for public forum.

  8. You’re going to LOVE The Artist’s Way, Trev. If you can, I strongly advise you do it with with some friends. There are also online AW groups, if you can’t work the book with friends you already know.

    It’s no easy task to go through a book like this and actually DO the exercises, but believe me, it very, very worth it. The more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it.

    Bonne chance!

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