Written by Angie Carrera
Journaling is one of the most fulfilling and understated things a writer does. However, this is also one of the activities that makes many writers, myself included, want to bang their heads against the wall, maybe to crack open something worth writing about. For the ordinary person, journaling serves as a cathartic activity that allows a sense of relief—but for the writer, it is much more than that.
You see, writers are a different breed of people that live life according to different standards, and the act of journaling is by no means an exception. Though writing comes naturally for many of us, we still expect those pieces that are meant for ourselves to be of utmost perfection, because in the back of our minds, if someone stumbles upon them, they have to be ready-to-publish. The thing nobody tells you about journaling? How difficult it is.
Although intuitively it may seem physically comprehensible—you get a pen and paper (or computer) and write. No big deal, right? But so many things happen in between that can cause many people frustration. The ability to write about whatever your little heart desires is so incredibly intimidating, and for that exact same reason: the opportunities are endless.
You often find yourself asking, Is this topic worth being written about? Is it redundant, because everyone else is writing about it? Who even cares if you do write about it? Is it interesting enough to read? The list goes on, because as writers, what we put down on paper not only states our opinions about said topic, but it also demonstrates, on a microscopic level, our views on life. This is why many of us make sure that what is written on the paper itself, and what is read “between the lines” coincides with something absurdly amazing.
News flash! It probably won’t be amazing, and that is perfectly okay. Nobody ever said that journaling has to be perfect, because the purpose of the journal is for its keeper to have a space of complete and utter freedom. Unfortunately, the common education system has led us to believe that there is only one process to writing and that each thing we write must follow this process. This, in turn, leads many of us to hold ourselves to unrealistic standards. Likewise, we see others that supposedly follow these standards, and think Why can’t my writing come as naturally as that? Another shocker here, it didn’t!
Every great piece of literature was a simple line or thread of thoughts that lingered in the back of the writer’s mind, until the writer decided it was time to breathe life into it and put it on paper. Every time a writer jots down a couple of words, this idea that has been carefully curated, becomes full of sentiment and life.
There will also be days that you write something in your journal and then want to scratch it out—don’t. Though you thought that it was not worthy in the moment, it could later trigger another train of thought for something even more spectacular. The real secret to writing is to write every single idea down, whether you deem it good or bad. Practice writing whenever you can, even if it is some incoherent sentence that nobody understands. By writing these things down, you give them significance in your mind and begin to develop stronger thoughts.
So, if the idea of writing scares you, then I say congratulations, because you have now joined the cohort of us that feel the same way. But never be afraid to write. The fear of not being good enough stops you from writing, and possibly never discovering the one idea that you absolutely love. Take that pen and paper and tell yourself, “today, I will write.” Even if you only write about how you had mac-n-cheese for dinner, you will develop a stream of consciousness, and those thoughts will push you into a part of your mind with such profound thought that even you didn’t know existed.