Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Journaling 101 day 1: an introduction

Lately, I have been in sort of a funk and thinking back, I should have really gotten into my journaling and really explore my feelings on this funk.  I am through it now, but there were times when I just wish that I had written about this emotion and that emotion.  This is one of the disadvantages of having an online journal.
“What, you do not journal?”  Are you even aware of the potentials that journaling can have on you as a person?  Journaling helps a person sort things out.  It does not have to be during the times where you are having problems in your life.  That is only one type of journal.  There are all kinds of journals for a person to write.   
For now, I want to focus on journaling.
What is Journaling?

OMG, where do I begin?  Let’s start with your plain ordinary dictionary version of the word.  According to the Sharecare website, it has to say this about journaling:
Journaling is a vehicle of emotional exploration, a way to channel difficult feelings into healthy and creative outcomes. It is a form of free self-expression that leads to exploration and personal growth. ... You have to listen rather than run away from your feelings.
You can really expand with this definition because this comes from a health website, who specializes in using journaling for therapeutic purposes.  This is perfect for someone who is embarrassed in going to a therapist.  For that, I recommend you seek help before diving into self-help.  I am no expert in psychology.
Creative Writing now, another website, describes journaling this way:
A journal is a written record of your thoughts, experiences, and observations.
This is the definition I want to focus on for now because journaling is more than “I feel this way” or “I feel that way”. It is a series of thought processes and putting it in written form and how you are processing those thought processes, observations and ideas running around in that head we all have.
A brief thought on diaries 
This applies more to women than men but think back to when you were a child and you wanted to talk about your day.  Children will automatically talk about their day.  They may take longer to explain it because to a little child, it is harder to formulate and place descriptive words into an adult’s head.  Sometimes a parent or other adults have said things like, “and what happened next”.  When we are teens, we do not want to talk about our day, at least I did not.  I wanted to keep things in the secret, among my friends, who knew all about it.  No parent needs to know about it.  “We can solve it ourselves” is every teen girl’s motto.  Writing about it helps with the feelings.  Things like “Today was the worse day of my short life.  Mrs. Logan embarrassed me by calling on me in math class.  Calling me out because I forgot my homework.  Why do I bother in this class?  Then, there was a cute boy I saw while walking to choir rehearsal.  I am not going to do it, but maybe I should ask Tricia if she has him in any of her classes.  I almost did not get off at my bus stop because I was so tired.  Mom was mad at me because she thought I needed to make my bed before I go to school.  Who does that? Let’s not talk about my part-time job.  On second, let’s not talk about my PT job because I do not want to go.  BTW, I need off next week because of prom.  I wonder who is going to ask me?  P.S.  It’s that time of the month again.  I am blotted, moody, and I need Chocolate.  I hope my little brother, Seth the bad breath does not find you again.  I will be modified if he gives it to mom to read.  I really think she works too much at that job of hers.”

You get the drift of that entry.  This is called journaling, but it is more of a diary. 

So, am I saying that a diary is a journal?  Yes and no, and many famous people, dead and alive have one.  Anne Frank, Helen Keller, Lewis Carroll, Harry S. Truman, Virginia Woolf, and many others.  According to Quora, the difference between a diary and a journal is feelings, emotions, problems, and reflections.  A journal adds experiences to the mix.  Both are used to evaluate one’s life and reaction to that feeling or experience. In fact, a person could intertwine the two, and still have a book they can read for years to come.
What a journal is not:
I will have to say that there is nothing much you cannot use a journal for.  I have used my journal as a sounding board, rant session, crying session, and planning session, to name a few.  In fact, I research using the words, “what you cannot journal”, and they are all for what you can journal.  So, journal until your heart is content.
Different ways of journaling.
Get yourself a notebook.  A blank notebook.  Start writing something, even if you say, “The grass is blue-green with yellow polka dots”.  You just made your first entry. With that entry, expand it.  You can say, “and when I walk on it with my bare feet, it feels squishy and wet.  It must have rained today.”  Talk about how the rain made you feel.  Was it cold?  Warm to the touch?  Tastes like chocolate? (hmm, I must be in a chocolate mood today).  What color is the rain?  Clear?  Blue like the ocean.  Brown?  (Ok, there goes that chocolate reference again, someone get me a candy bar, LOL).  Whatever you put in that blank book is your thoughts, your observations, and your ideas on the grass and the rain.  No one else. They may think the same thing, put in their journal, but it is their thoughts, their observations, and their ideas on the grass and the rain. There also may have a different way of describing that observation.
Some people like to type on their computer.  It feels good to them.  For online journals, you can use whatever software you use to create documents.  I use Microsoft Word and have successful created 5 journals (working on #6) from that software, with no reason to change.  I love this software for reasons, such as it is easy, if you already know how to use it, it becomes second nature to you when you start a journal, and you can take it offline (which how I use it).  I can type in my journal from this desktop, my Ipad, and my mobile phone. I have no plans to do this, but since I know my password, I can go to any public library, college campus, or work computer, and if their server allows it, I can go to Office, go to my account, pull up my journal and start typing.  When I get back to my home computer, it will automatically update when I pull it from the cloud because I can sync with it.  That is the beauty of this software, it so versatile.  Also, it does not cost much to have a monthly subscription ($7.99).  You can go with an older version of MS Word but be warned.  I read last month that they are or have already done away with support for the older Office suites.  If you are tight on money and your budget does not allow it, any free word processing software (including WordPad for Windows and Pages for IOS) can do the job.
For those who want to know, I will link up with this article, that talks about the websites that allow online journaling.  Because I do not use this method of putting down my innermost thoughts, I cannot say which one I recommend over another.    The only thing I can say about this method is to make sure you research before committing to this type of online journaling.  If what you have to write is way too personal, I suggest you go my route.  Also, some of these websites may not be free.  Update your virus software, before you start typing anything.  Make sure you read the fine print.
Well, I hope I have given you some insight on what to expect when you start journaling.  The topics I plan on covering with this series are:
  1. How to journal (or at least how I journal) and included are some topics that might interest you in getting started.
  2. Types of journals and what they are best for.  I have already given you one type already.
  3. More on the written journal, tools to use, and other goodies.  You can really get creative with the written one.
  4. Finally putting it all together.  How you can have one cohesive-looking journal, and what to do if you decide to publish it in the form of a blog.

Until the next time, if you are interested in following along with me in a free exercise.  You will need by the time you read my next post:
  • A notebook or your computer
  • Your favorite pen for now.  I will tell you what I use for pens when we get to the tools of the trade.
  • The willingness to learn about how you write. I have only one rule, and that is to have fun. I am not going to ask you to submit something.  I do not have the website to do that.  If you want me to critic on your writing, my address is, but I am only going to tell you, about your style of writing and spelling.  I am not an English teacher, nor I never had the desire to be one.  I had too many nightmares of red marks in my day, so, I commend anyone who wants to be one.  I used to be a preschool teacher if that helps any, and I would go back to get my license in Elementary Education, but that’s it.  If I do critic your work, it is only for you to learn.   

Again, until the next post, God bless you.

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