"I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living."-Anne Morrow Lindbergh
For most of my young adult life, I was a guilty prisoner of the ideology that one had to journal daily for the process to be meaningful (to whom exactly, I am not sure). I unconsciously subscribed to some unwritten rule that one had to record the minutia of everyday life- to do anything less would leave an indelible mark of being undisciplined for all to see. At this I failed. I just could not keep up. From where did these unrealistic beliefs and unattainable practices come? I do not know. I do remember, however, the day I was freed.
Unlike the rest of the first world, I was not a member of the Order of Oprah. I rarely watched television and The O Show even less. One day, for whatever reason, I turned on the show just as the star was sharing about the catharsis of journaling, a practice in which she had engaged since her teen years. I felt a heaviness come over me because I once again felt that urge to be more deliberate about capturing life in words. Then a guest therapist commented that one ought to write, and to write as needed. In those few seconds, I was set free! I was given permission to create my own habit of writing. Why had this not occurred to me?
The more I read and learn about the teaching of writing, the more I learn that all writers- those who do it for publication and those who write for their own sanity- have specially crafted habits of mind and practice. There are as many ways folks go about the art of writing as there are folks writing.
I have journaled "consistently" for almost two decades now. It is my catharsis (as well as cleaning, but that's a post for another time). I am able to purge or to cultivate. I am able to delve deeply into my thought life. I am able to see my life from outside of myself. I am able to temper my zeal, contain my anger, work out my anxieties. I am able to care for myself.
I knew the power of the pen despite my attempt to fit into the proverbial "box". I know what it is to live under the tyranny of ought to and should, to fear getting it wrong. So I write and teach to free other would-be journalers, writers, authors.
Live free and write!