Journaling is a very important routine to me, or so I'm learning lately. When I don't put pen to paper often enough, I become an emotional wreck majority of the time. I can't keep things straight in my mind and I'm not present with people when I'm with them. My mind starts drifting this way and that, trying to cling onto an idea or a word that's been stuck in my head for however long. It's quite annoying really. It's like the words I'm refusing to write get clogged within me and form a barrier between me and everything around me.
In 2008, I was struggling quite a bit, so my playwriting professor recommended a book to me called The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. If you are unfamiliar with Cameron's work, it can best be described as self-help for the soul. I've read a few of her books, most of which involve writing or creative exercises of some kind. The Artist's Way is accompanied by a journal for you to do your morning pages - three pages of longhand free form writing. The quote above is taken from my very first morning page. I just skimmed through that journal, and was amazed to see how much self-hate, self-doubt, and anger filled the pages. There was one page that was completely illegible and just consisted of several large words I believe were trying to be affirmations. I noticed how much I judged my own voice, my handwriting even - and how that even shifted depending on my mood. At first, I hated morning pages. They were like homework to me. But I kept with them for the 12 weeks Cameron asks you to stick with them. Looking back now, it's odd to see how much I resented the work but I'm aware how much it paid off to dedicate myself to writing every day.
I was reminded of all this after reading this article: "You Can Write Your Way Out of an Emotional Funk. Here’s How." by Susan David. It spoke to me on so many levels. David goes into detail of Pennebaker's Writing Rules, which are similar to the morning pages, except it's write for 20 minutes - however many pages that consists of for you. But it's still the idea of writing without judgement, which as I mentioned, is a very hard skill for me to master. Even when I first came out with this blog, I would send it to three people to read and approve it before posting the entry online. I was so worried about the tone, the language, and grammar. I was scared of failing or looking like a fool - which if you know me well, looking like a fool happens all too often. Just watch my lip-syncing music videos if you haven't already. But I've continued to live by the rule: "take your work seriously, but not yourself." And as much as I think that's true, I think I need to be more chill with my work. It's just writing after all. It's about getting the words onto the page or computer. Once I do that, then the real work begins of either letting it go or seeing where it takes me.
Even now, I know this blog entry isn't perfect. But I'm not going to let it eat away at me. I'm going to see where it takes me and post it because I think it's important to share these experiences with others. It's important to me that you know I struggle with my work as a writer. I struggle with journaling and sitting down to write every day. This past week I've done a horrible job at it, but I've been thinking about writing a piece about journaling and knew I had to just get it out there. Same as my newsletter. Because these things matter to me and I hope they provide some reassurance to you that you're not alone in your creative process.
Copyright © 2019 Christine Drew Benjamin | All Rights Reserved