BY MARA PURL
A new year often begins with new plans, fresh ideas, or maybe even resolutions. It begins with a new calendar, too. And for some, there might be a calendar book that has enough room for jotting notes. Well, just how elaborate might these notes be? Might this calendar book actually become a journal?
Uh-oh. The moment the word “journal” comes up, do you feel overwhelmed? Does this fall under the category of “resolutions I’ll never be able to keep”? Do you feel you’ll never have enough to fill a week, a month, let alone a year? It’s true that some of us write a lot, some of us write a little. But remember, your journal is just for you. Who says it has to follow anyone else’s format?
You can choose to write a certain number of pages; or you could, instead, set a schedule of writing for a certain amount of time each day, week, or month, regardless of how many pages this may yield.
And here’s something you may not have experienced before: flow. Flow is such a dynamic, extraordinary concept that the author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wrote a book called Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. [link https://www.amazon.com/Flow-Psychology-
Sometimes we have the experience of trying to squeeze water from a stone: We work hard, but only get a few drips now and again. What if there were a way to prime the pump, and hit a water vein that pours forth more than we might have thought possible.?
There is simply nothing more effective than journaling for “priming the pump.” When we write even a few words in a journal, we begin to acknowledge our thoughts and tap into that underground wellspring. It’s often when we write out our ideas that we find out what we actually think. This gives us a starting point, whether for small things like cleaning out a drawer, or a big project like planning a novel series or a house renovation.
Once you’ve committed to the idea of writing a journal, you’ll start to find out how the flow of works for you. You may decide short notes jotted a few days a week will work well for you. Or you may find you like writing a good, long session once or twice a month.
What if you sit down to write one day, and absolutely nothing comes to mind? A dear friend and mentor of mine said that how she overcomes this problem is by simply looking at the first object her gaze lands on. “There is dust on the Venetian blind,” began one of her journal entries. By a sentence or two later, she was already experiencing “flow.”
Whatever style and schedule you choose for your journaling, here’s a key recommendation: keep it regular. This tends to retrain us, developing an internal expectation of discovering our thoughts through what can become an increasingly satisfying practice.
Journaling, in whatever form you choose, can greatly enhance your life by giving you a better sense of control over your time, energy, and projects. And It gives you a starting point for your writing, whether you’re a novice, or a master.
Mara’s Authors Tips column appears monthly in the Villager.
Mara consults for authors through Haven Books. Find out more about her services, team members, and clients at www.HavenBooks.net Follow Mara’s own writing at www.MaraPurl.com, @MaraPurl, Facebook.com/Mara.Purl or email her at MaraPurl@MaraPurl.com.
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