One Word Essence Journal Writing

by John Robson

written March, 2004

Do you sabotage your journaling experiences by saying, “I don’t have the time?” (Or perhaps I should say that we don’t MAKE the time to journal.) From now on, this excuse won’t hold. If you have trouble committing time to journaling, try ‘One Word Journaling’ or headlining.

Try it this very minute – RIGHT NOW. Write just one word or a short phrase to describe your present experience. For example, what are you feeling right now? Write it in your journal or in your daily calendar or in your wallet or purse. The next time you remember this exercise, do it again. Then again and again.

Doing this one word writing process consistently, even just once per day, can give you deep insights IF each week you take just a few minutes to review your words and write a short summary of your experience.

There may be no insights as we write down one word or thought. But if we write down a series of items, over time, we can start to see relationships, trends and movement. We are able to see and sense between the written words.

The more we review the information, the more new dimensions and perspectives reveal themselves. We can draw on our intuition to bring more meaning to the material. The information comes alive. The whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts. And as we develop higher connections and relationships among thoughts, concepts and feelings, we create and raise our consciousness.

Focus on attuning to and experiencing the essence of a person, a day, a motive, etc. Magically, the more closely we connect with an essence, the fewer words there are to describe it anyway. So rather than spend time journaling, try devoting time to attuning to the essence of things, events and people and build your awareness this way. Know that spirit lives in the essence of things, not the thing itself.

Another quick journaling solution lies in writing headlines of seven words or less. We can write headlines to capture any experience. If you’re in the mood, have fun with this by playing with alliteration, humour, verse, metaphors, parody, rhyming, puns and dualities.

If you like this process, start a page for daily headlines and you will eventually have a concise overview of the highlights in your life – your own newspaper!

Below are some ways to apply the one word, essence or headline journaling tools:

  • Capture a key highlight or memory or feeling of your day.
  • Track the essence of a specific relationship over a 3 week period.
  • Meditate and describe your experience.
  • Tune into God or your soul.
  • What was your main motive throughout the day?

Often, the fewer the words, the stronger the impression — the more we can be out of our heads and into our hearts or feeling nature.

So set up a few triggers throughout your day to remind you to do your one word essence journaling or write a short headline on what ever you want. Your triggers might include when you drink a glass of water, boot up your computer, go to the washroom, have a work break, etc.

Enjoy the insights and the journey!

When we learn how to be truly present with our joy and our sorrow, with our longing and our desires, layer upon layer of our selves and the world are revealed.”-Oriah Mountain Dreamer