The two ways you can journal [transcript]

This post is a transcript for Diary of an Indie Writer, episode 28: The two ways you can journal 🎙️

Hey everyone, and welcome to Diary of an Indie Writer. I'm Jas Hothi, this podcast is for writers and aspiring writers of all kinds, and so a warm welcome to you whoever you are.

I've been writing as an adult for 8 years now and, in the last episode, I talked about journalling. Or, more specifically, I shared what journalling is, why it is so powerful, and how it can help you uncover the book inside of you.

That last episode is less than 15 minutes long, and it sets the context for today's episode so – if you haven't already – I'd invite you to 🎙️ listen to that episode first (or 📝 read the transcript).

Today's episode is for anyone who has journalled before, or hasn't but would like to get started.

Journalling is how I came to writing. I didn't actually realise that's what I was doing at the time, but I simply started writing down my thoughts and my experiences. And since starting out, I've experimented with journalling in various different ways.

There are many ways in which you can journal. And like I mentioned last time, there is no “right” or “wrong” way.

However, there are two fundamental approaches you can take with journalling, and I want to share those with you today.

These approaches can be applied if you're completely new to journalling, or you're someone who's been journalling for a while. And the two approaches are as follows:

1. Free journalling

2. Prompted journalling

So let's look at each of these in turn.

Free journalling

With this approach, you simply sit down and let yourself write your thoughts and emotions down onto the page. Another way you can look at it, is you're writing your stories and experiences down on the page.

You might have also heard this referred to as stream-of-consciousness writing, or 'Morning Pages', which was popularised by Julia Cameron and is where you sit down and write 3 pages each day, just opening the tap and letting yourself write whatever it is that wants to come out.

What's fun about this approach is the the world is your oyster. You can write about whatever you like. What you ate for dinner last night, the conversation you just had with your grandma on the phone, or your excitement about the film you're going to see at the weekend. There are days when you'll show up and be writing and writing and writing, and other days where... you feel blocked or stuck. If you are feeling blocked, a tip I have for you here is to let yourself write about that... “I'm feeling blocked, this is really frustrating, yesterday I was writing lots but today is annoying...”. I'd invite you to let yourself write about that frustration or that block, and – oftentimes – before you know it you'll have found something to write about.

As I've heard it described before, this “free writing” approach is like opening the tap, or shaking off the dust. What comes out might not always be neat and pretty, but if you can get yourself past that initial icky bit, you might be surprised at the flow you'll find yourself in.

So that's the first approach.

Prompted journalling

The second approach is prompted journalling.

In other words, it's where you write to certain questions, or prompts, that give you a theme – a starting point – to write around.

There are so many ways you can do this. But to share with you just a couple of resources that I've used personally...

They were shared with me 4 or 5 years ago by writer and writing coach Jacob Nordby, and I believe someone also shared them with him, so I'm not sure where these first came from, but they have been amazing for me.

And the 3 questions are as follows:

Q1. How do I FEEL right now?

Q2. What do I NEED right now?

Q3. What would I LOVE to have?

I cannot tell you how much insight and support those 3 questions have brought me and they're so accessible; you don't need a book of prompts with you, or if for whatever reason the stream-of-consciousness writing isn't happening for you, those 3 questions are great.

They're also great to help you get the juices flowing; so for example, you can write to those 3 prompts and then after that write do some free journalling.

So there we have it. There are many, many ways to journal but those are two fundamental ways that you can start to journal – or come back to journalling if you've fallen out of practice – which are accessible to anyone.

Literally all you need is a pen and some paper.

A note on writing pen-to-paper vs keyboard If you prefer to write on a computer rather than pen-to-paper, then by all means go with what works best for you. If you're starting out, though, or if you've never tried writing pen-to-paper or it's been a while since you have, I'd invite you to give that a go. There's something about putting pen-to-paper that's really powerful, it's something to do with the connection of the pen to our hand to our brain, or something like that. So if you're able to and willing, try writing pen-to-paper and see what that's like for you.

So that's it for this week's episode. I hope you'll find some time to journal this week. If in doubt, just try writing down whatever's on your mind, as per the 1st approach, or use those 3 prompts that I shared with you, as per the 2nd approach.

In the next episode, I'm going to dig further into journalling. I did mention that it can help you uncover the stories inside of you, and even help you craft the book that's inside of you.

This is really powerful stuff, and I look forward to sharing more with you about journalling and exactly how it can help you bring up – and bring out – what's inside of you... whether you've written a book already, or writing a book is something you've felt drawn to.



PS. As of January 2024, The Indie Writer is now 👥 INF Club. Join us there!