The Best Friend Everyone Needs

Introduction to Journaling

I recently discovered the joy of journaling.  Feeling frustrated with my lack of writing; yet tired of being on the computer all the time (for work), I heeded the suggestion of the lovely host of the Slow Your Home Podcast, Brooke McAlary, and decided to journal for 3 pages…pen to paper.

Is it wrong to covet those fingernails?
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Journaling Tools

With thoughts of writing in a pretty notebook filling my head, I opted for the reality of what was on the shelf and would suit my purpose…a spiral bound notebook with a hamburger on the cover.  Time has taught me that many a good intention will go awry while trying to find the perfect medium to achieve said intention.  So better solider on with the burger notebook, then a journal not kept.

Then the pen.  No compromise here because a scratchy pen keeps you from achieving flow.  Lucky for me, I had a smooth-flowing pen hoarded for writing purposes.  Never underestimate the power of the pen…literally.  Doubtful?  Try writing even a grocery list with a crappy pen…it is the difference between bringing home TP or tea…with TP being the preferred purchase…Yes, I’ve done this.

While the instruction from Brooke was to journal for 3 pages, just achieving pen to paper was to be celebrated, so I just focused on getting my thoughts out.

Best Friends For Life

For years, I have believed that journaling was for Dear Diary types of people.  Ones who wanted to pour out their heart about a potential love interest or document the events of the day for posterity.  No one has ever told me that journaling is the best friend everyone needs. 

Like a best friend, you can talk on a topic endlessly with no judgement, and there are absolutely no consequences to your confessions or accountability!!!  You can leave it for a day and repeat the same thoughts with no sighs of boredom. 

Venting at will, I unloaded all the ruminating thoughts that had me in a twist.  I did not have to worry about grammar or whether I expressed myself clearly, and I did not have to be aware of the subtle reactions of another person to distract me.

I did not even have to make my journal a problem clarifier.  Using the notebook in a willy-nilly manner, I went on to map out potential blog posts and could ramble on and then nix the result when the jumble made no sense.

When finished, I felt cleansed, and my mind was quiet.  I just needed to be heard even if the paper was the ears and my pen my big mouth.  =) 

Journaling brings clarity.
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

A Page A Day Keeps The Therapist Away

I highly advise if you’ve been a skeptic of writing pen to paper to give it whirl.  Keyboard to computer would be a secondary substitute, but I would find myself editing for spelling or grammar whenever the blue underlines appeared under my words.  This post being an example as I have misspelled journaling consistently…one L or two? No spelling or grammar checks in a notebook unless you leave it somewhere for your family to read…even then, only if you raised them right. 

I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say Flannery O’Connor

Too true. 

Do you journal?  If so or if not, why?

Elusive Creativity

Where Did Inspiration Go?

Sitting at my desk surfing Facebook and then checking out my Twitter account, I pass the time, the time I am meant to be spent writing.  Ideas feel blocked, and the pleasure of inspiration remains non-existent.  Sighing about my severe case of writer’s block, I feel tempted to scrap the whole endeavor.  Blogging twice a week…what were you thinking?  Real writers don’t run out of things to say.  Suffering from imposter syndrome, my self-esteem demons taunt me.

Currently, my well of creativity feels dried up.  I feel inspirationless which I attribute in part to the general restless energy of a COVID world.  Have I said everything I wanted to say?  My family would strongly indicate that I never seem to run out of anything to say; yet, sitting right here in front of an empty screen, I may have finally reached that point.

That’s about when I remember this is first and foremost supposed to be fun. 

Photo by Valentin Lacoste on Unsplash

I’m sure we all have those moments where the thing we sign on to do which satisfies the purposeful part of us like nothing else does becomes hard.  I imagine this is the moment that defines a possible future regret.  Will I push through the hard part or will I give up?  The best way for me to answer this question is to have a little chat with future me and ask her what she thinks.

The Conversation With Future Me

Present Me – Writing feels really hard these days, and I’m lacking in inspiration.  I’m thinking of giving it up.  What are your thoughts?

Future Me – Hmmmm, let me review.  Giving up because it feels hard, lack of inspiration, imposter syndrome, not having fun.  Go for it, give it up.

Present Me – Great!  Thanks!  I didn’t think it would be this easy.  What do you recommend I watch on Netflix? 

Future Me – You’re an ass. (Future me is not very kind and has no filter.)

Present Me – Whaaa?

Future Me – The only thing worse than working through a hard task is the weight of regret, and if you think you’re going load that one on me, you’re sadly mistaken.  Get your whiny self back to the keyboard and figure out how to find the fun.

Present Me – Ouch!  I really thought you’d be more supportive.

Future Me – My job is not to be supportive.  My job is to grant you the gift of perspective…less talking, more typing.

Moving from Indecision to How

Now that the decision of whether to quit or not had been resolved, the only way forward was to figure out the how.  How do I tempt inspiration and creativity to find me again?

I have decided to start by rolling out the red carpet for creativity and inspiration and making myself an attractive host.  Not asking questions about how and when inspiration will hit again, I will just show up and do the work.  Even a blog post done badly is better than disappointing future me and is a step towards a better future post.  I will shake up my world with the creativity of others to absorb a little of their inspiration by reading other blogs, listening to podcasts and reading books.  Turning off the voice in my head, I will tune in mindfully to the most powerful of creative influences – nature. I will indulge in different hobbies, walk the dogs in a different direction and initiate more than superficial conversation. 

It’s not easy to feel the unease of limbo, and I’m not sure how and when inspiration will bless me with her presence again, but if she passes by, she’ll find me typing and doing the hard work while also remembering that it’s supposed to be fun.

Current Baiting Tools of Creative Inspiration

Listen to a podcast – The Well-Storied Podcast – How to Recover from Writing Burnout

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert – No one says it better than the grand master of creativity herself.

Bake a Tortiere Pie – I substitute ground turkey or chicken for pork to make it lighter and only use a pie shell on the bottom.  I also do not make the mushroom gravy, just the pies, and use a packet brown gravy to make it easy.  The lovely thing is it makes three pies for three meals. 

Gardening – Nothing like dirt under the nails to distract you from your absence of inspiration.

Watch a silly feel-good movie.  My pick was Shallow Hal.

Have a nice gab fest with girlfriends and talk to loved ones who won’t let you off the hook. 

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

So, how is your creative flow progressing?