I love to write. I guess most bloggers do. Written words have always been better friends to me than spoken ones, at least as far as my own are concerned. If I were asked to speak in front of others, I would cringe, but if asked to write my thoughts for the same group, no problem.
Since my cancer diagnosis, I find writing to be a very tangible, therapeutic tool. Writing forces me to think more clearly. Writing gives me a sense of purpose. Writing revitalizes me and almost always makes me feel better. Writing is visual proof I have accomplished something, survived and maybe even grown. Writing gives me confidence and inspires me to write more.
The down side of writing, for me anyway, is I often wake up in the middle of the night and my writer brain kicks into gear before I fall back asleep. I can’t seem to stop ideas from tumbling around in my head. Sometimes I do get good ones and I probably should write them down immediately, but I’m pretty sure turning on the light and doing so would be highly annoying to dear hubby, so I just try to remember and write them down when I get up. Besides if I did get up and start writing, I’m pretty sure nights with sleep would cease to exist for me. And a good night’s sleep is hard enough to come by lately.
When you are going through cancer, or any trying time in your life, writing, or more specifically journaling, is a very powerful tool to help you cope, which unfortunately not enough people tap into. Journaling can help get you through the rough patches. Just seeing your thoughts and feelings written down somehow validates them, even if you are the only one seeing them.
Journaling is almost like having your own therapist, literally at your fingertips!
Actually, journaling is a great tool for recording every day experiences of life such as parenthood, travel and work. Anyone can benefit from journaling. Even ordinary things that now feel mundane, might later be precious memories.
Through the years, I have kept numerous diaries or journals. Growing up, it seemed I started a new diary each year, always promising to write faithfully. Some years I did and some I did not. A few of those diaries are still locked, continuing to safe guard secrets of my youth. Even now, all these years later, I hesitate to unlock them. It almost feels wrong somehow.
I’m thankful for the safe sanctuary writing provides me. I’m not sure how I could cope without writing. Writing IS how I cope. That’s an empowering statement.
Some tips for getting started on journaling
1. Decide what format you want to use. I still like to purchase a journal in book form because I like an actual visual “container” for my thoughts. Plus, a journal in book or notebook form has a more intimate feel to it. Also, a person’s personality comes through in their penmanship. That’s an added touch to your journal when it’s finished. However, if you prefer, you can certainly use your computer.
2. Try to set aside a few minutes each day or at least a few times each week to journal, so you get into the habit of writing. It doesn’t have to be the same time of day.
3. Decide if your journal will be for your eyes only, or if others will eventually be allowed to read it.
4. It sounds obvious, but date each entry. Our memories fade fast and we won’t remember them.
5. If you have trouble getting started, simply record the date, weather, news events or family happenings and record your reactions to them.
6. Join an online journaling group or take a community education class.
7. Think of journaling as another exercise, one for your mind. You are NOT wasting time!
8. Tell yourself you are creating a learning tool for yourself or a visual recording of your own personal history.
9. Try playing relaxing music or lighting a candle while you write.
10. Don’t judge what you write, just write…
11. Make up prompts for yourself. For example, visualize yourself in retirement, on vacation, finished with chemo or living a life without cancer.
12. Be honest about your hopes, fears, dreams, frustrations and well, everything. Otherwise, what’s the point?
After journaling for a period of time, go back and reread your entries. If you have been truly honest, you just might be astonished by how much you have grown. You may be surprised how well you survived. Most importantly I hope, like me, you will have discovered a love for journaling!