A Beginner’s Crash Course on Journalling Part 1 – “Introduction”

Part 1 Introduction insta.jpg

This is the “Introduction” instalment of a 7 part series. This Series is called A Beginners Crash Course on Journalling. I will be talking about the ins and outs of journalling from all the information I have gathered from my extensive research and my experience so far. When I was originally writing this, it was just going to be one post…but I just had so much to say and the post got longer and longer. So, I thought it was best to break it up for you…and turn it into a mini ‘Crash Course’.

My Journalling Journey

I only started keeping a journal just over a year ago and I can tell you it has been the best thing I have ever done. It has helped me tremendously, both mentally and physically. It helped me change my life. And I promise, I am not exaggerating.

I was in a state of deep depression and I tried everything to pull myself out of that big black hole I was in but nothing seemed to work. Like everybody these days, I Googled it….. How to overcome depression”……and every article I read said the same thing. Keep a journal.

At the beginning I just ignored the advice I didn’t want to keep a journal. Only ‘important people’ keep journals, people who have interesting lives. I don’t have anything of importance to write. But the more research I done, the more it kept popping up. So I thought to myself, well nothing else seems to be working, I have nothing to lose.

Back to Google I went!

Procrastination

I read countless articles about journalling and downloaded some kindle eBooks. I learned the benefits, how to start one, what kind of book to use, what writing instrument to use etc. etc. etc. But that is all I did for about 3 months. Read about them. Pinned my favourite articles and many journalling prompts to a board on Pinterest. All good intentions of starting ‘tomorrow’. And guess what? Tomorrow never came.

This all changed when I read a book called “365 Journal Writing Ideas” by Rossi Fox. I highly recommend this book if you are on the fence like I was. He got me excited to start and I took the plunge.

I got myself prepared. I wrote all his journalling prompts out on the computer, printed them off, cut them up and put them in a little folder ready to use when I started. Then I started making myself a book (yes because going to the shop would have been too easy and I am a crafter and a procrastinator {procraftinator}, so making the book seemed like the right decision to me) and after about another 3 weeks of preparing…I eventually started.

I was doing well for about 2 to 3 weeks. Keeping up to date with my entries. Getting myself into a routine. Things were looking up and I was actually enjoying it. Until 1 day I was just too busy and couldn’t get a minute to myself for the privacy I needed to write. So I missed a day, then I missed another day. Then before I knew it I had a whole week to catch up on….the thought of a full weeks’ worth of prompts to complete was not appealing to me. I tried catching up but in the end I gave up.

Then my inner critic started;

You are such a failure!

You can’t even get keeping a journal right!

Why didn’t I just keep up with it…?

I will never get anything right!

Blah blah blah!!

My inner critic has always been my worst enemy.

Perfectionism

The thing was…I was all together missing the point. I was taking the whole ‘journalling’ idea to seriously. Worrying about getting my handwriting perfect, worrying about my grammar and punctuation etc.  I even worried about the layout…yes seriously! I take perfectionism to the next level. I was even worried about not finishing a page with the same entry….I didn’t want to start a new entry below the last one, it needed to be on the next page. But I didn’t want any blank spaces.

So it was no surprise that when I missed a few days it overwhelmed me to pick it back up again. It wasn’t an essay I needed to hand in and get graded on and it wasn’t an art project that was going to get displayed in a gallery.

Second Attempt

It wasn’t till I was having a particularly bad day that I picked up a scraggly old notebook and one of those little free blue pens you get in Argos and just started writing. I didn’t think about what I was writing. I just let my words flow, all my thoughts were just pouring out onto the page and before I knew it I had basically wrote a short book.

My writing was a mess going all small then big then small again. My spelling’s were atrocious (yes, I Google voiced that spelling just now because spell check couldn’t even recognise what I was trying to spell), one sentence lasted about 2 pages and punctuation was non-existent. This type of writing is called ‘streams of consciousness’, I have now learnt.

When I reached the end and put the book down I felt fantastic. It felt like the whole world had been lifted off my shoulders. All the black fog that had been blinding me cleared and I could suddenly see again. That big old rain cloud that had been over my head for months had moved on and the sun started shining down on me.

I still don’t understand how much of a simple thing can make such a big difference. It is quite fascinating. Almost magical! I felt good, like I had been given a second chance, that I had started a new beginning.

I picked up the same scraggly notebook the next day but I didn’t really have much to say because I had spilled my heart the day before. So naturally, I put it down and forgot about journalling all together….again!

Realisation

More months went by, life started piling on top of me again, 101 new stresses emerged and I was feeling as depressed as ever. I was just looking through the dreaded ‘junk draw’ looking for something…I can’t remember what now but it must have been important for me to even attempt to open that draw. Anyway, there it was….my little old scraggly notebook. I opened it up and started reading.

It took me quite a while to get through the book, as I struggled to even understand my own writing but by the time I finished and processed what I had read, I had learnt some important lessons about myself.

Here is what I learnt;

I live in a time loop – Ground-hog Day!

Apart from the fact that I am a mother and have to stick to routine. One day is pretty much the same as yesterday and tomorrow. But that is not my point here.  My point is that my life was going around in circles. I was making the same mistakes and repeating them over and over again. I wasn’t learning from them. I was missing the chance to improve myself repeatedly. I could have learnt a whole set of new skills, if I had only taken the time to reflect on my mistakes and taken a different route to prevent me from making them again.

My thought patterns hadn’t changed

I am a ‘thinker’ I always have been. I regularly live in my head. Over analysing a situation until I come up with a completely different story. Then the thread of my thoughts spring out to past events and possible future events. Am sure some will understand what I mean.

Our brains can generate thousands of thoughts each day. Some are helpful and some are not. But most of the time we ‘think’ the same ‘thinks’ repeatedly. I won’t get to deep into this subject and save it for another blog post. However, my point is, every day I was thinking the same negative thoughts, probably about a thousand or more times per day. So it was no wonder I was feeling depressed.

I was holding myself back

During my ‘dark’ depression days, I always felt like something was holding me back. Like I couldn’t move on with my life until I lost some weight, until I moved house, until I passed my driving test……the list goes on. I never felt like I had enough. I was basing my happiness on ‘things’ that I thought I needed. Procrastinating at its best.

When all these realisations sunk in… I made a decision! I am going to change my life! And I am not going to wait until ‘tomorrow’ I am going to start now. And off I went and opened a Word Document.

Third Time Lucky

From that day I started writing in the Word Document I haven’t looked back. I write daily in a book and/or computer. Sometimes several times a day. I even tried a journal app so I could write on the go but that didn’t last too long. I used it for a few days when I was on holiday but when I got home I forgot all about it.

Everyone’s journalling preferences are different, what works for one person might not work for another. I believe that everyone should keep some kind of journal. There is so many different ways to record and document your feelings. You just have to experiment and see what works best for you.

During this last year I have tried countless different ways to journal. Some I like, some I don’t, some I have not tried yet. I will go into deeper detail about the different kinds and ways of journalling throughout this series (So if this interests you keep your eyes peeled for the next 6 part instalments this week). 

Conclusion

After my rocky journey into journalling, I finally realised the point of it all. Apart from its obvious emotional and health benefits, it is an amazing tool for your overall personal-development. It helps you track your progress and remember lessons that have been learnt from mistakes made. This prevents you from making the same mistakes and having to re-learn them repeatedly.

It is for place for reflecting and evolving. Writing down your goals, your plans, your wishes and your desires. Venting out your bad feelings such as anger, jealously, stress, negative thoughts and sadness. Once everything is out of your head and in your journal you can free up room in your mind to think clearly.

So if you were on the fence about starting up your own journal, I hope my story has inspired you to take the first step. Don’t wait for the perfect moment like I did. Just get started….now! Go find your scraggly old notebook and Argos pen (not literally).

I would love to hear from you. How do you feel about journalling? Have you tried keeping a journal before or do you currently use one? What’s your experience with journals? Please leave a comment down below.

Check out the other instalments of the series…

Part 2   Part 3   Part 4   Part 5   Part 6   Part 7

Also check out my Journalling challenge called ‘100 Creative Journal Prompt Challenge’. (Still open)

If you want to learn more about Miss Rachel B (click here)

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4 thoughts on “A Beginner’s Crash Course on Journalling Part 1 – “Introduction”

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