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8 Great Journaling Tips

Mix a martini, don't forget the olives, or pour yourself atea, relax and enjoy!

There are no hard-set rules for keeping a journal. How oftenyou write, time you spend, and how rigorously you maintain aregular journaling schedule are matters of personal choiceand circumstance. Therefore, it is important to find whatworks for you. Here are nine guidelines to assist you.

1. Allow for regular writing times. Find a time of day thatworks well for you and use this time every day. As much aspossible, control interruptions during this time.

2. Give yourself an inviting writing environment. If youneed quiet space, find a time that you can write withoutnoise and interruption. If the hum of the world around youis soothing rather than distracting, plan to write during atime when other people will be engaged in their own work andnot looking over your shoulder.

3. Develop a centering ritual. Associating journaling withanother pleasurable habit can guide to strengthen theroutine and create an atmosphere of self-nurturing. When youare ready to write in your journal, consider pouringyourself a cup of tea or coffee. Play relaxing music. Take amoment for meditation, deep breathing, or prayer.

4. Prompt your writing with a routine self-reflectionquestion: Triggers such as "What are you feeling right now?"or "What's on your mind?" Anais Nin suggests asking "whatfeels vivid, warm, or near to you at the moment?"

5. Write because you desire to write, because you know it'sa comfortable place to be you. Don't allow journaling tobecome an obligation or chore. Remember not to demand moreof yourself than you can give. If you have missed a day, orseveral days, accept that journaling, like life, isimperfect and go on. Write the next time you have a chance.

6. Create a positive feedback loop. As you continue to usethe journal as an opportunity to be with and learn aboutyourself, you will find that the practice gains a momentumall its own. Discovering your own hidden depths piques yourcuriosity and stimulates you to continue, setting up apositive feedback loop between your conscious andunconscious mind.

7. Emphasize process rather than product. An importantpurpose of journal writing is simply expressing andrecording your thoughts and feelings. Concentrate on theprocess of writing -- keeping the flow of words rather thanworrying about the result. If your goal is to have specificaudiences read your piece, go back to it later and edit it.Use your journal as the raw material for more polishedwriting.

8. Learn from your own experiences. It is always good toreread your entries a month or so down the road. Itdemonstrates your growth -- a nice pat on the back for allof us. Look for patterns and correlations. What improved,what stayed the same? Learning from yourself is so muchmore gentler on the self-esteem. Use objectivity to reviewyour life from a different perspective with hindsight.

Relax, have fun, and don't forget to laugh! Journal writingis its own reward. Once you get started, your journal willbecome another one of your good friends -- one who is alwaysavailable and never presents a deafening ear. Your journalloves you for being you.

Catherine Franz has taught journaling for the last 15 years,including two US Presidents and First Ladies, and hundredsof workshops internationally. She currently has twoinformational documents available on journaling at:

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