Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Journaling with guest blogger Lynn Goodwin

One of my favorite writing genres is journaling. I've kept a journal or diary since the fifth grade, sometimes rather sporadically, but the desire to record my thoughts and work them out on paper has always been there. So, imagine how thrilled I am to have a guest writer on my blog today, who wrote a book about journaling!

Lynn Goodwin is the managing editor for Writer Advice, an e-zine for writers that is chock-full of good information. She is the author of You Want Me to Do What? Journaling for Caregivers, a journaling book with over 200 prompts to get you started. We're all caregivers in one sense or another, whether it be a full time situation for a loved one, a paid job, or in our roles as mothers, wives, and friends.

Without further ado, I'd like to welcome Lynn to Over the Backyard Fence and say 'thank you' for being here. (Look for a drawing for Lynn's book, at the end of this post!!)


Journaling Helps by B. Lynn Goodwin

How can journaling help? If you are like most women, you are a caregiver to spouse, kids, and maybe your parents and siblings. You spend time carpooling kids to school and dental appointments, making sandwiches, answering questions, paying bills, cooking dinner, entertaining, and if you are caring for parents as well as your immediate family your work load increases exponentially.

Why write about it? Journaling allows you to vent, process, explore, discover, and rejoice. It offers a safe place to explore, express yourself, dig deeper, analyze, and discover truths. It gives you the "me time" that keeps you whole. It creates a record of the story that only you can tell.

Over the past ten years my journals have been:
A record
A place to spew
A place to delve and see where the pen takes me
A place to hone my thoughts
A place to sharpen my craft, and figure out what I really mean to say
A place to make discoveries
A place to find story ideas
A place to find resolution or the next step on my journey
A place to make lists and cross off what I accomplish
A place to look back on what was once important and gain perspective
A place to record my reflections

I write my journals in longhand. I like the smooth flow of a pen on paper. I like the progress of moving from left to right, line after line, traveling down one page and on to the next. The rhythm of longhand soothes me.

In addition to the fact that university studies have shown that writing saves lives, here are a few other reasons to journal:
I write to share
I write to pull out secrets locked in place in my brain
I write to see what happens if I release my private truths
I write to move to a new level of comprehension or analysis
I write to tweak life and imagine happy endings
I write to tweak life and imagine worst-case scenarios
I write gratitude lists to feel better

What are your reasons for journaling? What do you journal about?

Though it does not always seem like it, journals have the power to pull you off the hamster wheel of obsession and into action. They are a safe place to heal. Healing does not wipe out old problems or past actions. It washes over them, helping you cope, change your attitude, and move forward.

Heal your spirit by writing in journal.

B. Lynn Goodwin is the owner of Writer Advice, and the author of You Want Me to Do What? Journaling for Caregivers, which contains encouragement, instructions, and over 200 sentence starts to help you journal any time, even if writer's block rises up like a granite wall in front of you.
To enter my drawing for a free copy of Lynn's book, leave a comment below, and answer the question, "Are you a journaler?" (If not, maybe now is a good time to start!) You don't have to have a blog to enter. Just be sure to send me an email telling me how to contact you, in the event that you win.
Edited to add: Obviously I'm new at this give-away stuff. Have your comment posted by Friday, January 29, 8:00 p.m. MST to enter.


Joanne said...

Good morning Karen and Lynn! I'm not a regular journaler, though Lynn was a guest on my blog a while back and I was AMAZED at the outpouring of passion for journaling on her post! I do keep small individual journals for my writing projects, and am definitely an itinerary writer. And my blog reflects many of my thoughts. So I touch on journaling in different, sporadic ways. Lynn, I like your idea too about writing longhand. So much of my writing is done on a keyboard, but those journals/itineraries I keep are all done in longhand. I believe the thinking process is a little different when we put words and thoughts to paper in that way.

Becky said...

Great post! Thanks Karen. I am NOT a journaler. But I did go through some counseling for an issue several years back, and the first thing the counselor told me to do was to start a journal.

He said, "It will allow you to have control, to feel less like a victim." And he was absolutely right. And do you know what the full circle was for me? Burning the journal. It was not something I wanted anyone to ever see. And I was totally healed and comfortable with never going back.

Rizzi said...


Sharon said...

I am a lousy journaler by longhand. I have had a bit more success using my blog to journal, but I still lack the consistency and flow I would like. Thank you for introducing me to Lynn and her ideas...and, thank you, again, Karen, for your writing.

Jen said...

I'm not a that even a word? lol. I guess I journal on line my blog. But put me in...I could start.
I do write in a book someone bought me when I was pregnant with Madison called..Letters to my daughter...would that be sorta journaling? is that a word?
How was your weekend?

Lynn said...

Jonanne, you are exactly right when you say, "I believe the thinking process is a little different when we put words and thoughts to paper in that way." I often light candles when I journal on paper, but I don't do it when I am on my laptop. Each medium creates a different mood.

Becky, I love the story of doing it and moving on. WTG! I also love the idea of a journal putting you in control.

Rizzi, I don't journal every day either. This morning I read in Mary Karr's book, Cherry, instead of journaling. But I know I will be free writing tonight.

Sharon, the consistency and flow will probably improve with practice. It did for me.

Jan, letters to your daughter are definitely a kind of journaling (which became a particple about the time parenting became a verb). That is such a wonderful thing to do. Lucky daughter!

Karen, thanks so much for sharing this with your readers. I look forward to knowing who wins the book. I'll check in later, but right now I'm meeting a friend for lunch--always a nice thing to do.

Take care everyone,

B. Lynn Goodwin
Author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers

Country Dreaming said...

I find that blogging is as close to journaling as I get. When I was younger I kept a diary like all the other girls.


Tammy said...

Karen, I always wanted to be a jounaler...but I never have done it. I guess I fear having nothing to say. The writing in long hand is appealing to me, but I never seem to have the time.

Nice giveaway!

Lynn said...

Country Dreaming, blogging is a form of journaling. Sadly, many of the blogs disappear while journals can last until the ink fades and the paper crumbles.

Tammy, sentence starts are the perfect way to get past the fear of having nothing to say. All you have to do is finish the sentence, write another one, and you are journaling.

Here are three to get anyone going:

Today I want...
If I had my way...
Today I feel...

If you want to share what you write with any of these prompts, I'm happy to tell you what I love in your writing.

Take care,

Author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers

Anita said...

"A Safe Place to Heal"...I love that!
Yes, I am a journaler. Many years ago when I had "issues," I'd "heal" by writing in the journal.
Nowadays, I blog, and I write in journals for my kids. I just wrote a post that included journaling called "Connections to the Past" on 1/25/10.
Thanks Lynn and Karen!

Anita said...

Oh, Karen, thanks for commenting on that particular post and the others too. I enjoy hearing from you. :)

And I email address is

Lynn said...

Anita, the photo is fabulous. I love the title, "Connections to the Past." I'm ready to read. =)

Take care,

Author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers

Susanne said...

I'm not so much a journaler in the sense of writing consistently about my feelings. I do have a journal but it's more to jot down things I feel God might be putting on my heart to situations I'm going through. One time though when I was very, very angry with someone close and felt I had to get it out, I wrote absolutely everything that came to heart and mind no matter how ugly and hurtful it was so that I could get it out and then I prayed over it and for God to heal me and then I burnt it. It was very freeing to see that thing burning in the sink.

Lynn said...

Suzanne, releasing anger is a great use of journaling. WTG! Kudos for burning it and letting the resentment go. It sounds like you came full circle.

Take care,

Author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers

Willow said...

Hi Karen,
Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. You asked about the sweater on my sidebar. I knitted that one for the baby daughter of a fellow teacher. The pattern is so cute. It's my current favorite baby sweater to make!

Robin said...

I want to journal - but I don't. The times that I have tend to be in the dark times of life and when I go back to read them I just feel yucky again. So I don't. But I would like to - really.

Lynn said...

Robin, if you want to journal, please do. I often write pages I refuse to look at before the brighter thoughts emerge. Use it to process stress and find hope. You will. I just know it.

Willow, that picture is adorable.

Take care,

Author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers

diana said...

i'm obviously too late to join in the give-away but i'll answer anyway.

i used to be a journaler. from my early adulthood, i, too, kept a journal and even led a couple of journaling workshops at church. i still keep a prayer journal of sorts but it really is just to keep up with prayers from a prayer group i'm a part of. i think starting my blog nearly 3 years ago gave me my outlet for writing and putting some of my thoughts into words.

reading lynn's thoughts on journaling has made me wonder if i shouldn't go back to writing in longhand. there are definitely things i don't write in my blog that i would in a journal.

thanks to both of you for this post. it sounds like a good book and i'll stop by the e-zine.

Lynn said...

Diana, why don't you give the paper journal a try. See if it fills a need. If my personal experience is any indication, it will.

Even though you're too late for the book giveaway, you can always purchase a copy on your own. There are probably discounts today at Amazon and I know there are at other online bookstores.

Thanks for writing. Take care,

Author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers

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Anonymous said...

Sweet site, I hadn't noticed earlier in my searches!
Carry on the fantastic work!

Lynn said...

Thanks, Anonymous. Your post brought me back to the site and I got a chance to look at those lists again. Journaling is taking me in new directions these days. It is a powerful tool.

Author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers