Thursday, 6 January 2011

Creating the Space for Journal Writing

Do you journal as much as you want to? Perhaps you don't journal at all, but would like to. Whatever your situation, I hope this post will help you. This is about creating physical space as well as emotional space.

When keeping a journal becomes a second nature, all most of us need is to pick up our journal and a pen and start scribbling. Location - as long as relative privacy is ensured - doesn't matter, nor does noise or any other distractions. The world surrounding us becomes part of our journaling experience, and yet we are not distracted by it, because we are immersed in the journaling process.

But what if you are not yet at that stage? What if Journaling for you is not a second nature, but rather a regular habit that you are trying to cultivate, a hobby you are trying to develop, or simply a necessity to share your thoughts? If that is you - then sometimes, you may find that you don't want to journal. Either you can't be bothered, because it's too inconvinient to go find that journal, find a comfortable place to write, find a right environment etc.

This is where issue of space comes in.

Physical Space
Keep it somewhere you can have easy access. Ideally near a place you would generally journal. I.e. in your desk, on the coffee table

Make sure you feel comfortable with the level of privacy about this place. I recommend keeping it out of sight, even if your family respects your privacy. Even under another book would do. Why tempt people to open it by shoving your journal under their noses?

If you are able, carry it with you and write whenever you get a chance. You may find writing in it in odd moments, capturing moments of your day that might otherwise go unrecorded.

Make it easy on you. If you have to get your journal out from a back of a wardrobe every time, and digging it out takes you ten minutes, you are unlikely to write regularly.

Emotional Space
What if you feel so overwhelmed with emotional issues that it's too difficult to write? Or perhaps you think you can't write. That's when creating emotional space comes in useful.

If you are dealing with emotional issues that are having impact on your life, on your relationships, journaling could help you deal with them. It is not a substitute for professional help if the situation requires it, but it can be a great self-help tool anyway.

First thing to keep in mind - Start Slow.

It's okay if you don't feel capable of expressing all your feelings by writing. It's okay if you don't feel at ease about exposing your fear or your opinions. It's okay if you don't feel comfortable writing something that could make you vulnerable if someone else read it.

Start slow.

Write what you do feel comfortable about.

Write a list of things you fear. Write a list of things you wish would change. Write a list of things you are grateful about. Or everyday, simply write about your day, and at the end of it, write what you wish you could have done differently.

There will come a time when you can decide to act on it. To do something different. To change habits and behaviours that are keeping your trapped in your present emotional state. Or perhaps it's other people. Write about those people. Evaluable your feelings. Is it really them? Or is it your intepretation of their actions? If it is them, what can you do? Is it something you can fix by open, honest conversation or do those people need to be cut off from your life?

None of these are easy issues. But creating emotional space is about honesty with your self. You must face your emotions if you are to deal with them. Unless you know the root of what's troubling you, and the root cause for your life not being the way you like it to be, you cannot even begin to solve it. Of course not everything in life is in our control, but then journaling will help you understand and hopefully accept that.

Happy Journaling!


  1. Cool Post! I love your blog :D

  2. Yes Dolly,'Journaling creates the space for the healing to take place, for your fears to be erased for.... Thank you for your guidance and inspiration.

  3. I always have a journal with me, because I like to 'do things' away from base, and I often (increasingly often . . ) refer to it when I can't remember something . . .

    Having said that I still like having a space at home to write, draw etc. so after a tortuous hour or two in IKEA and a few hours assembling stuff, this is now my 'creative corner'

    If you want to know what a day in IKEA is really feels like see:

  4. Thanks for sharing your creative space Rowland. Pretty cool to have special place :-) I just tend to write wherever, which usually means on the sofa.

  5. It is a special space.. but I have to share it with Archie (the cat) I have a space which is divided in two parts: one half a drawing board, the other my recording studio. I have two stools there, one for me and one for Archie... if someone else arrives he is 'incazzato nero' . . . I'm sure you can guess what it means

  6. Dolly, I found your great article from its mention on the InkoPhile blog and I'm especially interested in journaling as a tool for strengthening one's connection with one's self. Since I explore the Power of Connection on my own blog, I wonder if you would consider writing a guest post or series of posts (or repurposing something you've already written) that speaks specifically to using journaling for connecting with Self. If so, contact me at

  7. Hello Elizabeth,

    Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment :-) Yes, I would be happy to do a guest post / series of posts. I will get back to you by email.

  8. Was flipping back through topics . . .

    This one was relevant and then, after the fact, noticed the original date.

    6 January 1991 was the day my mom died of cancer. That definitely does relate to the idea of making mental and physical space for journaling. Not everyone takes twenty years to clear out the baggage, but some of us do. Better late than never :)

  9. Millicent,

    Definitely better late than never, and I think many of us not only take decades, but perhaps never manage to sort out issues, because a lot of times we don't even know (or acknowledge) that we have issues. So journaling at least forces you to acknowledge it.

  10. Since posting my earlier comments I've also written this article which you may find interesting.