I love learning more about other people’s unique creativeness as well as their creative process, and this often times includes learning how and why people journal. I have my own reasons for blogging as well as keeping a private book of thoughts, but it’s always interesting to hear from others on this topic as well. Today I’m excited to share with you Sheryl’s thoughts on the topic of Journal Writing.Sheryl, a transitions counselor – among many other things – blogs over at How To Make A Life, and I’m so glad she has agreed to share her knowledge and thoughts with us today.
I have been a journal writer for most of my life and I had no intention of becoming a blogger. My journal contains my deepest personal thoughts with questions and doubts of my life and the events I encounter. My blog contains a much more organized and eloquent view of my world than can often be summed up in a few hundred words or so. Blogging can be considered a form of journal writing but it hasn’t taken the place of my journal. Today I wanted to address why blogging is different from journaling and is not the therapeutic journal writing that I encourage my clients to participate in.
When I explore with my personal clients if they have or currently journal, I point out daily tasks that they do which fall into the journaling category. These tasks and events can include: keeping a calendar, social media posts, food journals, to do lists and anything that marks the regular passage of time. Once someone realizes they currently journal, I can then assist them in moving to a more therapeutic level of focusing upon how the day made them feel and what their emotions were during the time.
Research continues to show that regular journal writing improves mood and overall health. By regularly exploring the emotions of life, one is allowing time to truly face what is going on in life and often discovers the answers within their writing.
A recent post on how to create a journal practice brought many comments from other bloggers including how most wanted to return to journal writing or begin a practice. The one comment which stood out was from the blogger who remarked that her blog is her journal and she no longer writes privately.
I do not disagree that a blog is a journal. Depending upon the slant of the blog, it can provide a scrapbook of vacation pictures and food recipes along with family milestones. However, if you are focusing solely upon establishing well written posts with beautiful photographs, you are ignoring the thoughts and comments in your life which deserve to be acknowledged. Our personal (or professional) blogs can not and do not need to show the rawness of our lives. However, as a counselor, I also know we need to acknowledge the rawness of life.
I purposefully and slowly began my blogging career two years ago after the death of my mother, I desired to share the grief journey of a grief counselor in order to help others who were also grieving. In the beginning, I did not post on a regular basis and although I look back and see the rawness of many of my posts, they were crafted posts that I put time and effort into as I knew others would be reading. My private journal during this time included prayers, letters to my Mother and questions of the grief process.
Blogs have become another outward expression of our lives. Bloggers spend time establishing content that will draw readers, spend money on new designs and worry about pageviews and comments. Journals sit in our nightstand or on the table.
Many bloggers apologize for not posting 3-4 times per week and fear readers will stop returning. Journals do not judge if we go months without sitting down to acknowledge what is going on in our life. A journal doesn’t need an apology.
Blogs need to be written for optimal SEO optimization. Journals do not care if there is the appropriate number of keywords. One blog post can take hours or days to compose and edit. A journal does not need to be spell checked or cross checked for grammar errors.
I believe that most individuals who develop journal practices and blogs are by nature writers. The process of writing a blog or journal allows for time to explore thoughts and capture events in ways that could easily be forgotten if the time is not taken.
My own private journal practice has changed over the past two years. I am able to read my past blog posts and remember the events I was struggling with and how I wanted to share the struggle with others so that they would understand if they ever found themselves in my shoes. I can find myself going several weeks without pulling out my private journal. However, it is often not long until I feel the inner tug of needing to sit down with my own thoughts that no one else needs to be aware of except myself.
I am grateful for the platform blogging allows me to have. Having others share that my posts were meaningful to them or assisted them through a difficult time provide me with the encouragement to move forward. Publically sharing difficulties on my blog has also held me accountable. If I am going to be brave enough to share my battle with eating healthy and staying gluten free then I need to consistently live the lifestyle (and also share when I fail).
My personal belief is everyone, whether they publish a blog or not, should maintain a private journal. It may need to begin simply in the way of a calendar and listing if the day was good, fair or bad but it allows time for reflection in a busy life.
Where are you sharing your personal hopes, thoughts and reflections? Do you feel you are allowing yourself time to slow down and reflect upon where you are and where you want to be? There is nothing wrong with sharing these comments with the world but I encourage you to make sure you are sharing them with yourself first.
You can find regular posts on the subject of journal writing and ways to discover the pieces of a happy and healthy life on How to Make A Life. I would love to have you visit!
What are your thoughts regarding the difference between blogging and therapeutic journal writing?