The practice of writing to make sense of my life began when I was in second grade. It started with a midnight blue diary that had a little padlock, a teeny tiny key, and the words KEEP OUT scrawled across the cover. I’d write about the days events — complaining about a boring trip to the Arboretum with my dad. Or that my best friend, Jill got the sought after Sweet Taste of Success mini-course instead of me. I continued writing in this little blue book through college. The back page listed all my boyfriends along with favorite bands and songs.
After college I went to Europe. I brought along a proper journal, the perfect accompaniment to my cross-continental travels which included freedom-filled days and plenty of time to reflect.
In my 20s, and (somewhat) settled in NYC, I was introduced to The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Part of her teaching to tap into creativity was the morning pages– a place where you let your brain flow onto the page without any interruption. The point is to write through the BS to reach the real stuff.
My current home practice of journaling is similar to the morning pages, though I don’t follow that format to a tee. Sometimes it’s a stream of consciousness type of exercise (like the morning pages), but more often it’s me working through whatever the daily crisis may be. I’ve had major breakthroughs at 5:30am when my writing brought some of my deep issues to the light. And then there are days when I’ve just written on my to-do lists that needed to be tackled. Whatever is happening in my life…it goes into the book.
For Your Home Practice, You Will Need:
A journal to write in.
I’ve never been precious about my journals. I’ve used notebooks with Spiderman emblazoned on the cover as well as swag received from TopShop for a purchase I made. Though I do prefer a hard cover, I’ve used many softcover notebooks as well. The size is important– it can’t be too small. (That little blue diary from yesteryear would never suffice these days.) Just start where you are — if you’ve got an old notebook laying around, use that. Sometimes, I’ll be writing in one of my kids’ old notebooks, and I’ll come across their markings that they’ve done on a random page midway through the book. I just write around it.
A time you can commit to.
I’m at my best in the morning so I wake up early and write. When I was younger, in my 20s, my entries were always at night, before bed. Work with your schedule, but also make sure you’ll have quiet time…at least 15 minutes. And try to do it as often as you can– like a ritual which is what my mornings with a coffee and my journal have become.
A cozy spot in your home.
I use the beige suede rocking chair that I fed my babies in. There’s something comforting about being there….it reminds me of nourishment.
Once you’ve got your pieces in place, start writing. Don’t think too hard about it, and definitely don’t try to write for others. Just let your fingers do the walking with whatever comes to mind. It may take a bit to get to the good stuff…there’s a lot crap to sift through in our brains! But once you get the hang of it, journaling can be incredibly insightful and something you could come to adore.
Do you ever write for clarity?
(Photography by Rebecca R Photography, Prop styling by yellow house collective)
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Nice post, Elysha on this home practice. It is said, to be successful, develop good habits. Writing is an indispensable skill that benefits in almost every domain.
You are fortunate to have developed it at such an early age. Thanks for sharing your home practice and those solid tips.
Thank you, Terry. I appreciate it!