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How journalling can help you uncover the book inside of you [podcast transcript]
Hello everyone, welcome to another episode of Diary of an Indie Writer. I’m recording this one from a chilly Lake Geneva in the south of Wisconsin here in the US. We’ve had snow in recent days, but the ice on the lake has melted, and it’s definitely feeling like we’re easing into Spring now. I’ve been here for a couple of weeks now, and I’ve been settling into a routine and becoming familiar with this beautiful city. It’s called a city, but the population is just around 8,000 - and I’ve been able to enjoy it at a time outside of the tourist season, when I’m told many thousands descend upon the lake each Summer. As I’ve been getting settled in, I’ve been writing, but I’ve had to really go back to basics, back to the foundations. I’ve been spending a good amount of time journalling, and that’s the topic of today’s podcast episode: journalling. You see, journalling has been the foundation of my writing practice, I’d say the deepest component of my writing life. I’ve been writing consistently as an adult for nearly 8 years now. Some of that writing has been through blog posts; I’ve been writing to my blog almost every week since 2019. So there’s been a good amount of writing that I’ve published, that I’ve shared on my blog. But of all the writing I’ve done, of all the writing I do, there’s a bigger chunk, a much bigger chunk of the writing I do, that I don’t publish, that I don’t put “out there”. It goes into my journal - or, I should say, the many journals I’ve kept and filled over the years. I often describe blogging as “journalling I choose to share online” or “journalling I choose to publish”. If you’re a writer - that’s an author or a blogger or anyone who writes at all - or you’re someone who wants to write but hasn’t quite gotten around to it just yet, journalling is probably the single-most powerful practice I’ve integrated into my (writing) life. In fact, when I share with folks that I’m a writer or that I’m an author… I’m often asked what it is I write, or what I’ve written. And I’ve written fiction, non-fiction, poetry, blogs… so many different kinds of writing. But, the majority of the writing I do, if you were to tally up the words I’ve written, the majority of those words have been written in my journal. Journalling makes up the biggest part of my writing life and, to be honest, it probably always will. Quite often, my journalling has led to a blog post, or a book idea, or a poem. As I mentioned a few moments ago, journalling has been the foundation of my writing practice, the deepest component of my writing life. Which is why I want to talk about journalling with you today. I want to talk to you about what journalling is, why it’s so powerful, and how you can get started… or, how you can get back to it if you’ve fallen out of a writing practice. To me, as someone who writes, who is a writer, for someone for whom writing forms an important part of my identity… it’s important for me to have a writing practice, and in other words what I’m saying here is that it’s important for me to have a journalling practice. Wherever you are in your writing journey, if you’ve journalled before or you’ve never journalled, if you call yourself a writer or you’re someone who wants to give yourself permission to be a writer, this episode is for you. Before we get into the meat-and-bones of today’s episode, I want to remind you that I’m not a licensed medical practitioner. I do, however, have a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology and I’ve been writing as an adult for the best part of 8 years, and I’ve been helping others do the same for about half of that time, so I have learned a thing or two about journalling and the amazing benefits its brought about for me and many others. – Journalling is a big topic to break down. So what we’re going to do today is talk about what journalling is and why it is so important. You see, the essence of journalling is as follows…
Journalling is writing down your thoughts and emotions.
Or, another way you can think of it is as follows:
Journalling is writing down your stories and your experiences.
It’s expressing who we are, what we’ve been through, what’s on our mind. But if in doubt, just remember that journalling is writing your thoughts and your experiences. That’s probably the simplest definition of journalling that there is. Notice that it’s your thoughts and emotions. So it tends to both head and heart, or mind and body. It accesses our conscious and subconscious. Journalling can help us access some of the deepest parts of ourselves, in ways that only art can, and in ways that many of the more traditional therapeutic practices - like talk therapy or cognitive behavioural therapy (otherwise known as CBT) - are not able to. And this leads us nicely onto why journalling is so important. I said before that journalling helps us access parts of ourselves that are difficult to access. It helps us to draw out threads, to examine the, to untangle them, and to re-order and re-piece them. It allows us to move through significant and traumatic pieces of our lives… to name them, to work through them, and to re-frame them and release them. Are you someone who kept a diary at any point in your life? Well, perhaps you were drawn to writing because it helped you process the world around you… because it helped you process your world, your inner world, in a way that brought you comfort and solace. Journalling helps us connect or re-connect with the deepest parts of ourselves. And when we start to untangle and work through those threads… this is where creative inspiration is born. It’s where creative projects can take shape, it’s where books can emerge from within us. A lot of people think that to write a book, you need to have a thought or an idea that pops into your head suddenly… and don’t get me wrong, that can happen. But journalling helps you start to turn on the tap, and uncover what’s inside you. Like an archeologist who digs to uncover the remains of the dinosaur beneath, journalling helps you explore what’s inside of you bring it to life. This is how you can discover the story inside of you through journalling. You don’t have to think and force a book idea… you can discover your story, you can uncover your book idea, through journalling. In other words… Journalling can literally help us to discover the stories within us that we need to tell. And wow, I’m going to say that again, because that statement is such a powerful one:
Journalling can literally help us to discover the stories within us that we need to tell.
You don’t need to start with your book idea. If you’re struggling to figure out the book you want to write, or you have a vague idea which doesn’t feel very clear, journalling can help you uncover it. Journalling can help you get going with your story - which you might then continue to writre as a memoir, or perhaps your journalling will become a fictionalised world with characters, or maybe you’ll find yourself writing a book of poetry. Journalling is amazing. It’s the secret sauce for a writer, and it’s how we can discover and tap into the stories we have inside of us. So that’s what journalling is, and that’s how it can be so deeply beneficial for us as writers, or those of us who wish to write. And if you’re listening to this, there’s a pretty good chance that that’s you. – So now that we’ve defined journalling, and how it can be so helpful to us, in the next episode we’re going to get into how you can start journalling. There’s no one right way to journal, but there are a couple of journalling methods that are particularly helpful when you’re getting started with the practice, or if you’ve written or journalled in the past and you’re getting back to it. I hope you’ve found today’s episode interesting, and, before I sign off this week, I want to leave you with the following statement: If a writer is someone who writes, journalling can help you become the writer you’re meant to be. And finally, if you’re enjoying this podcast, I’d really appreciate you leaving a review on Spotify on Apple, or wherever your listening to this. Your review will help other writers and aspiring writers discover the podcast, and hopefully benefit from it too. Thanks so much for listening, I hope to see you here next time for the next part of this discussion, this exploration of journalling. It really is incredible, and it’s just a joy to share this with you.
// 15st March, 2023
Jas Hothi is a writer, coach & author. With a Masters in Positive Psychology (MAPP), he loves to help folks begin and make progress on their book projects by discovering and utilising their unique creative rhythms. He is also currently offering a free copy of his book, The Indie Author, to anyone who signs up for his newsletter. SIGN UP HERE to get your free copy.