LifeJournal™ Newsletter – June 2012


“Bath time!”  my mother would announce in the early evening when I was in elementary school, and I’d resist. “Not now!”  I’d reply. I didn’t want to take my clothes off and be cold for the minute before getting into the warm water. I didn’t want to shift gears and stop playing or reading or watching TV. Of course, I always had to take the bath, and once in it, I didn’t want to leave.  I was having too much fun building bubbles sculptures, making waterfalls spill over washcloths, and watching the water splash.

You would think I’d not resist each time that I was asked to jump in the tub, because ultimately I always had fun.

I can feel the same resistance to journaling. There are times when I think about opening my journal to write, but then feel reluctant, not sure I want to get started, to even put fingers to keyboard, or pen to paper. I don’t open that journal.

I’ve spoken to hundreds of journal keepers and I know I’m not alone. It’s a common occurrence. Journaling is a leap of faith. You never know what will appear before you on the screen/page. It’s kind of exciting–or it can be kind of scary. And there lies the push-pull dilemma of journal writing.

We are torn by the desire to get stuff out, but also perhaps worried—yet only vaguely aware of the worry– about what might flow out from our hands.  We may shift the worry unconsciously using “I’m too busy,” or “I don’t have enough time,” as the inner chatter that turns us away from journaling and to another activity.

Eric Maisel, who is considered America’s foremost creativity expert today (and the creator of the LifeJournal Creativity Add-On) asserts, “Anxiety is the number one problem that creative people face—and yet few even realize it.”

The paradox is that people who write in their journals self-report that they usually feel better, more relaxed, and more at peace after they’ve written about something difficult or traumatic or emotionally troubling. Many people feel better by the time they have finished writing their entries.  Some people report they may feel a little sad for several hours after writing a difficult journal entry, but report that they later indeed feel better than before they had written.

If you view that reluctance to write as a small but surmountable activation energy—rather than a brick wall that stops you– then you’ll more likely get started on the writing road. You may begin to see that small hurdle as just a part of the writing process, rather than a barrier.

LifeJournal understands about this resistance to write, which is why the Prompts, Quotes, and Wisdom features are built into the software. Those features are there to help you lower your activation hurdle. You have a place to start writing, rather than starting with a blank stare bouncing off a blank screen.

An additional way to overcome the initial resistance to write, recognizing that low level anxiety may be part of the issue, is to breathe slowly and deeply for a few minutes.  Five counts on the in breath and five counts on the out breath.  It’s a time-honored way to center and relax.

Perhaps the reason people have developed their own rituals of journal writing—brewing a cup of tea or pouring a glass of wine, lighting a candle, or putting on some soothing music—is to ease them into the journaling “space.”  Not only do those rituals become a familiar transitional activity to coax you into writing, they relax and ease you into the paradoxical place of journaling which can be both a little anxiety producing as well as ultimately a soothing experience. You might even consider taking a warm bath before you journal…

To your ongoing journaling,


Ruth Folit
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Here are July journal events that are coming up soon. Come join!

SheilaBender_tn Sheila Bender teaches: Take the First Step to Writing Your Memoir: Personal Essays, the Short Memoir Form.  Tuesday, July 10 – Monday, August 13.  Five weeks, online flex-schedule class.  Open to IAJW and non-IAJW members. Sheila is an author, memoirist, and writing coach extraordinaire. Her encouragement, keen ear, and passion for writing gives her students –who run the full gamut from novice to experienced writers–just what they need to move to the next level in their writing.
 Barbara_Graham1 Barbara Graham, discusses Writing Your Family Memoir.  Thursday, July 19, 7 PM Eastern/4 PM Pacific.   Open only to IAJW members who attend the event at no cost. Barbara is a New York Times best-selling author and essayist, and editor of Eye of My Heart: 27 Writers Reveal the Hidden Pleasures and Perils of Being a Grandmother.  This book is not filled with sentimental stories of grandmotherhood, but a set of fresh, real stories by 27 honest women–all accomplished authors that tell it like it is. O, The Oprah Magazine raves about the book: “Truth-telling with dollops of love.”  Don’t miss this telechat!

(You’re not a member of IAJW? Join now!)

End Quotes:

 “Stop searching the world for treasure, the real treasure is in yourself.”–Pablo Valle

“Anxiety is part of creativity, the need to get something out, the need to be rid of something or to get in touch with something within.”–David Duchovny


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