My Tempestuous Relationship with Journaling

Journal hate

Tempestuous – the word came home this week on my ten year old daughter’s spelling list, along with scrupulous, vociferous and pensive. She couldn’t find the word in her school age dictionary, so asked me for advice. I attempted to provide a definition that didn’t talk about Wuthering Heights or Downton Abbey too much, but just found myself…going there, you know? My writing (and bad boy attraction) notions got the better of me, and hey, I was cooking at the time, too.

My daughter was forced to attempt to write the definition in her own words. She put down:

Tempestuous: a love that runs hot and cold.

(As a ten year old, she uses the term love without grasping the larger concept of relationships – and I want to keep it that way for a bit longer because goodness knows everything her life is expecting of her lately leaves little room for just ‘being a kid’).

For tempestuous, the teacher came back in red scrawled writing with the words: “a storm”. All the other spelling words were regarding morals, and emotions, and states of character and (imo) were perhaps not words you would normally see being used in a ten year old’s (or indeed, my own) vocabulary, in the first place. Not in a million perfect storms.

Naturally,  I was completely stonkered that this particular one was defined suddenly by a weather system. (I am now trying to think of a weather example that could be considered scrupulous, but I digress…)

But a weather system I certainly have with journaling, or in particular, concepts like morning pages.

In this case, I preach, but am not converted. Look away now, if you don’t want to see my shame.

Confession time:

I’ve tried journaling, free-form writing, morning pages, on and off, for over a decade. I’ve joined Artist Way groups with the best intentions. Several times. And dropped out. Several times. (Including *cough cough* another one going on right now).

My hand has ached until I can no longer write, outputting those 3 pages a day of morning pages.The gig was probably up as soon as I started calling them “mourning pages.”

I have tried keeping electronic journals, notebooks, secret lock and key diaries (when I was twelve, okay!) and I still try.

I have found some success in holding a project writing journal within my current writing project (using Scrivener for all the files). I only recently took that daily journaling or dump pages out into a specific journal program which allows for a calendar and entries with auto-dates on them. That app is on trial only, and I’ve been humming and ahhing for weeks over whether I should purchase it.

See how I play and let the whole concept fester?

Moving my journal notes over to a diary program was perhaps a mistake, but then I’m not in Scrivener (my writing program) or a writing project everyday,  either. (If Literature and Latte could add an auto-date function or hot-key to new text files in the next gen of Scrivener, it would be heaven).

On some weekend days, I don’t even boot up my laptop. Therefore I don’t journal. On the days I do boot up my laptop, I don’t necessarily click the journal icon staring at me.

Can you say the word: resistance? (And what weather system is that, dear teacher?)

All is not a failure, however. Despite my tempestuous relationship with maintaining a daily journal, I have come to accept that for me—this is all okay:

  • I gain benefits from dumping down thoughts, moods, problems from the day, and combining those dribbles with actual planning and thoughts relevant to the writing tasks at hand. It’s a tool for the proverbial “load off” the mind if my husband isn’t around to cop it.  I don’t mind having to shift some of the more useful writing ideas across when needed.
  • The dump pages let me get some worries off my mind, and also to celebrate and write gratitudes for some success during the day.
  • And if I miss a day (or four last week) I’ve grown to appreciate that sometimes I don’t need to journal – sometimes days are ticking along so well, or the opposite, and journaling about them will just interrupt them un-necessarily. You’ve got to live, to have something to journal about, after all.
  • Sometimes I hate my journal’s guts and wish it would shrivel up and die.
  • And sometimes it’s just too sunny and dazzling, when I want rain and moodiness. There, I’ve completed this thing with a return to my daughter’s teacher’s metaphor.

Do you keep a writing journal / dump pages / do morning pages? If so, how’s your relationship going?

8 thoughts on “My Tempestuous Relationship with Journaling

  1. I did Morning Pages every single day for 2 years….I got sick of listening to my own whining! 😦

    Now I just journal as and when I need to, but I wish I could get out of the whole whinge fest lol


  2. Sometimes I see the benefit of doing it (usually when I have a lot on my mind). Other days, I ask myself why in the hades do I sit down and write this garbage (usually when things are going well). It’s a love/hate relationship for sure.

  3. I would gauge your relationship with your journal to be ‘above average’ when measured against world population. We won’t talk about mine…

  4. I don’t keep a personal journal, it’s not that I’m against keeping a reflective account of what I have done or have thought. It’s just that it is not how my head ticks.

    I do write my morning pages since I find the mantras and “ten tiny things…” incredibly helpful in keeping me forward focused, but I don’t consider them a ‘journal’ more a “dump the crap and focus on the next” opportunity. Interestingly I became addicted to them not from Julia Cameron’s words but from those of Twyla Tharp.

    But my serious addiction is with journaling for creativity, your project journal would fit in this class, where you are journaling words and art that you have every intention of returning to, to review, to rediscover, to enjoy. The focus is outward not inward, you can’t whinge if you are looking out at wonder instead of in at regret . There is always the belief that one day, in some way, I might use a tiny tiny fraction of my composting collection in a future work and this gives it immediate value.

    Oops! getting carried away. Thanks for neat and the honest post, wishing you luck with your everything.

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