Scott’s Thoughts: On Journaling

“Writing is thinking on paper.”

William Zinsser, (October 7, 1922 — May 12, 2015), American writer, editor, literary critic, and teacher

Journal and pen.


If you typically think of writting as corresponding via email messages or crafting MLS descriptions, you may be missing out. One doesn’t have to “be a writer” to access the many intellectual and emotional benefits of writing. In fact, set aside your impression of what we typically think of as public writing – books, essays, articles, blog posts-and consider the value of journaling.

A journal doesn’t have to be daily, and it doesn’t have to conform to anyone’s format. Journaling can help you clarify your feelings, tackle difficult problems, and provide a valuable and much-needed space for reflection. Journals may be fragmentary, may be written as “letters never sent,” and even used as a safe space for self-talk and unfiltered honesty. Journals are a perfectly valid form of writing therapy.

The act of writing can be surprising. At times you may believe you know what you think and how you feel about situations or issues in your life, but by simply sitting down to put down one word after another, unexpected perspectives are given space to emerge.

Journals can help you slow down and “process the now.” They also serve as a powerful form of outsourced memory. The past is distorted with time, but if we record our impressions in journals, looking back years or even weeks later can be illuminating. Journals also provide us a space to celebrate our successes and dissect our failures.

While you can use a journal to hone your literary chops and communication skills, you should never let grammar, spelling, and punctuation impede your flow, or prevent you from expressing yourself. Pick a format that feels safe and natural for you. It might be a notebook, or it might be a password protected file on your computer. (You might even decide to set aside a specific time/place to journal.

As Ferris Bueller reminds us: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Consider what you might gain by taking the time out to write down your thoughts.

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