LifeJournal™ Newsletter – March 2011


I’m juggling right now. Our daughter is getting married here next month and you can imagine my To-Do list is long and seemingly endless–with, of course, a wonderful celebration as the end result.  I’m writing short journal entries—sometimes quick lists, for example, about wonderful memories of Sara growing up as well as writing about the feelings of the moment about getting it all done! Sometimes writing about the nuances–the new role I’ll be playing as mother-in-law, the excitement of celebration, the feelings of overwhelm at times–makes the tasks more manageable and more memorable and helps me keep moving forward.

And, of course, we continue to offer you plenty in our LifeJournal and IAJW (International Association for Journal Writing) worlds to boost your momentum and deepen your journal writing. This month read two interrelated articles in our newsletter: (1) a preliminary discussion about journal writing and anxiety, especially as it relates to Dr. Eric Maisel’s work about creating and anxiety, and (2) a review of Eric Maisel’s new book Mastering Creative Anxiety.

Join me in two upcoming journal writing events that you won’t want to miss: 

  1. If you ever travel, then I strongly recommend that you listen to Dave Fox, author of Globejotting: How to Write Extraordinary Travel Journals (and still have time to enjoy the trip!) to learn about just that. Dave will be the IAJW March telechat guest who I will interview later this week—on Thursday, March 24 at 8 PM Eastern/5 PM Eastern.  All IAJW members can join the telechat for no cost, as it’s a benefit of being a member of IAJW.  Not a member of IAJW yet?  Join now!
  2.  On Wednesday, April 20, author of A Writer’s Book of Day: A Spirited Companion & Lively Muse for the Writing LifeJudy Reeves will conduct a Writing Practice. via a phone bridge. (International people, ask me how you can join!) Judy will offer a prompt, and participants will write and then be invited to share their writing.   We had a Writing Practice session last week with Judy and I loved it!  Here’s what one participant said about the class:

“I have very real insecurities about my writing, so much so that it is often difficult for me to write from a prompt. But today’s experience was so freeing and inspiring that despite some initial intimidation – which I expected to feel – that I was happily able to write, share (gasp!!), and be inspired by the writings that poured out of everyone.”–Joanne Ross

The experience of this Writing Practice with people from the corners of the globe wasn’t just food for thought, it was a banquet for inspiration about personal writing.  If you have even the vaguest curiosity about sometime writing for a larger audience, sign up for this powerful writing experience! The Writing Practice is open to IAJW members and non-IAJW members alike!

If you want to stay in touch with journal offerings, LifeJournal news, and other goodies form the world of LifeJournal, click the “Like” button on the LifeJournal Facebook page at  We keep you in the loop of all kinds of journal writing information between monthly newsletters.

Keep on writing, discovering, and creating,


Ruth Folit – LifeJournal software (Click the “Like button!) – The International Association for Journal Writing

Journaling and Anxiety
by Ruth Folit

The one problem that I hear over and over again from all kinds of journal writers (and one that I have certainly experienced) is not writing consistently. I had a new understanding about that recurring issue last month thanks to Eric Maisel and his teleseminar on the Focused Journal Method. One of Maisel’s main theses is that anxiety prevents many of us from creating or creating as fully as we want. He suggests using a Focused Journal Method which he designed which  guides you to develop right thoughts and right actions, and you’ll move forward on your work—whatever it is.

Not only do I agree with Maisel’s contention that anxiety stops us from creating–and of course I consider journal writing a creative activity–but I go further and say that we often are reluctant to write in our journals because of anxiety. The anxiety of journal writing is not only about creating or not creating, but also is about the worry of discovering things about ourselves that we might not want to acknowledge. Be aware that many excuses, such as not having enough time or having nothing to say, are clever ways that we’ve developed to mask our anxieties.

If it seems that anxiety in some form is preventing you from journal writing and pursuing other creative activities, I recommend that you listen to Eric’s Focused Journal Method teleseminar (available to IAJW members and non-members) that he presented at IAJW last month, and/or read Eric’s latest book, Mastering Creative Anxiety, which I’ve reviewed below.  Maisel’s teleseminar and book complement each other; both pieces of work describe the anxieties that are caused by creating, and both help you recognize and master those fears.  In his book Mastering Creative Anxiety, Maisel examines and enumerates different sources of potential anxiety in a creative person’s life and offers ways to overcome the anxiety. (Read more about the book in the article below.) The Focused Journal Method teleseminar describes a tool to cope with anxiety: an eight-step journaling method ranging from identifying issues to teasing out intentions to aligning thoughts and behaviors. Together the book and the teleseminar will propel you forward in better understanding creative anxiety and mastering the tools to overcome it.

A Review of Eric Maisel’s New Book Mastering Creative Anxiety
by Ruth Folit

Early in psychologist and creativity expert Dr. Eric Maisel’s  readable book, Mastering Creative Anxiety: 24 Lessons for Writers, Painters, Musicians, and Actors, he lays out his principle thesis about how creativity and anxiety are inseparable yet sometime unrecognized partners:

“Anxiety is part of the human condition.  And it is a much larger part than most people realize.  A great deal of what we do in life we do to reduce our experience of anxiety or to avoid anxiety altogether.  Our very human defensiveness is one of the primary ways that we avoid experiencing anxiety.  If something is about to make us anxious we deny that it is happening, make ourselves sick so that we can concentrate on our sickness, get angry at our mate so as to have something else to focus on, and so on.  We are very tricky creatures in this regard.

“We are also very wonderful creatures who have it in us to create. Creativity is the word we use for our desire to make use of our inner resources, employ our imagination, knit together our thoughts and feelings into beautiful things such as songs, quilts, or novels, and feel like the hero of our own story. It is the way that we make manifest our potential, make use of our intelligence, and embrace what we love.  When we create, we feel whole, useful, and devoted. Unfortunately, we often also feel anxious as we create or contemplate creating.  There are many reasons for this—the subject or our twenty-four lessons. We get anxious because we fear failing, because we fear disappointing ourselves, because the work can be extremely hard, because the marketplace may criticize us and reject us.”

      Writer’s block. Procrastination. Reluctance to write. We name them different things, but all of these have the common thread of creative anxiety. Part of the way to overcome the anxiety is to recognize it and know that it’s inevitably a part of the creative process.  Eric pinpoints 24 different ways that we can become anxious during the creative process.  These include:

• The Anxiety of Creating and Not Creating
• The Anxiety of Choosing
• The Anxiety of Day Jobs
• The Anxiety of Ego Bruising

      He helps you see in real terms how each worry exists, how it is real, and ways it can impede your progress. But then–and here’s the exciting part–he offers clear, specific, and doable techniques to master these anxieties.  Maisel gives you a menu of physical, cognitive, behavioral, mindful methods to manage and lessen your anxiety. Yes, I can attest; these work!  I’ve become more productive, and more able to get creative work done after reading Eric’s book.  Maisel understand the creative person’s psychological landscape and how we can move forward in spite of these universal worries that dog our creative lives.

End Quotes:
“Anxiety is the number one problem that creative people face – and yet few even realize it.”—Eric Maisel

“Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity.”—T. S. Eliot

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