My approach to journal writing
I have discussed in many of my previous blogs that I keep a journal to make sure that I get my me-time that I think is very important. I am an avid day-dreamer and talk openly to myself about both personal and academic life therefore have always been aware of the value of me-time in my life. It was when I was doing Sprint that I started thinking a little bit more about managing feelings and then an article on The Boar sparked an interest in trying journal writing.
I purchased a journal from the Warwick Bookshop and then went home to search online how to best start writing. If you want to have a look at a couple of pictures, you can check out my tweet sharing my enthusiasm and excitement.
Over the past three months, my style, structure, content and basically my general approach to journal writing has changed. Initially, there was a thing about writing down the things that happenend on that day. Then emotional rants and fears followed. Now, the focus is less on writing all the events of the day and more on capturing the emotions that I feel throughout the day.
What I want is to be able to read my old entries and be able to relive the good and the bad days and remember exactly how I was feeling on a particular day. I do write about key events that I remember from the day and also sometimes write about the things that I day-dream or talk to myself about.
Journal writing has helped me a lot more than I had imagined. I can feel the change in my mood when I don’t write for a couple of days and now don’t think I can last over three days without a journal entry. As a somewhat sensitive person, I have gone home some days thinking ‘Oh I have ruined my friendship’ and then finding everything normal two days later. Literally, life is funnier than you might think and a journal makes it easier to document those jokes.
I also find it much easier to manage my feelings. I openly laugh and crack jokes but find it very hard to express sadness or anger. Especially the latter because I know the damage that it can do to others and therefore the bonds that I share with them. However, managing feelings and letting emotions out is very important and my journal is what I turn to, to moan and complain and discuss the origin of my feelings. Often I find that I begin with a loose reason behind my anger and end with an analysis of the reasons behind it and after putting things into perspective, I find myself free of these emotions. Also, I know sometimes I repeatedly tell myself the same thing or worry about the same thing but once I write an entry, it is almost as if I have transferred the thought onto paper and then I don’t think about it. This is a technique I learnt during Sprint as well and is very helpful since then I have more space in my head and energy available to focus on the tasks at hand.
I never use offensive language in my journal. This is just a personal rule and I want to keep my journal very much positive in terms of the language that I use. I also don’t use smiley faces or ‘haha’ or anything like that even though this is found in some of my earlier entries. It is just more fun being able to write about my feelings using everyday words and sometimes I get very poetic (since I write poetry as well) in terms of using similes and metaphors and this is really interesting and I get to practice my use of rhetorical techniques. But journal writing is not about writing wonderfully well or rehearsing thoughts before putting them down but rather putting everything on paper and then trying to make sense of the random mess.
Finally, I would only say that as students, we don’t really have a 9-5 life. We can have a schedule that is 9-5 but work is always on our minds and there is always something that needs to be done. Taking out time for ourselves is very important and scrolling down Facebook and Twitter feeds does not count. I find it very important for myself to put my phone at a distance and shut my laptop down, and just sit and read or write in my journal. This is often the highlight of my evenings and faling asleep becomes a lot easier as a result. I think getting a journal is a great investment if you’re struggling to identify how you want to best make sure you get your optimum dose of me-time.
Whether you decide to write a journal or not, I would highly encourage you to think about something that you can do that’ll help you to spend more time with yourself and explore your values and feelings; be it writing a journal, poetry, reading, or indeed finding that one person in life with whom you have your most deep and honest conversations.