Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Guest Post Wed: Four Guided Journaling Techniques

You may have thought from time to time that you’d like to keep a diary or a journal. You may even have started one...or two...or who knows how many, over the years. Perhaps you are one of those people with enough self-discipline to write briefly in a diary every evening, year after year, and start a new volume each New Year’s Day! In that case, you have a pretty good record of your doings and maybe even your thoughts about them over time.
There are, however, many possibilities for journaling using various "guided" techniques. To get you started, you may want to give some thought to what you want to get out of journaling. Do you just want to record your memories, as days and months go by? Then a normal diary, or journal, is probably just what you need -- that, and a pen. But if you want to get to know yourself better, find the source of some ongoing problem in your life, or give yourself a nudge toward doing some creative writing, then you might consider one of the many guided journaling techniques that have become increasing popular over the past several decades.

You can expect a certain amount of structure from guided journaling techniques. Each has been developed to meet a particular need. Their very nature makes them excellent tools for people seeking something specific -- an increase in self-confidence, perhaps, or insight into the reason you keep choosing friends who turn out to be totally unsuitable in the end. Here are some techniques you can use to find answers to the questions you want to ask.

Stream of Consciousness:
With this technique, you first clear your mind, and then begin to write whatever may come into it, with no conscious thought at all. Don't edit, don't worry about spelling or punctuation or sentence structure. Just put down whatever you think. It may be useful to set yourself a time frame in the beginning, perhaps ten minutes a day. Of course, if you want to keep writing after ten minutes, go ahead; but commit to writing for the ten minutes, no matter what. After a while, as you look back over your daily entries, you may see patterns emerging, and you may find those answers you were hoping for.

Question and Answer:
When you use a question and answer format for your journaling, you will usually ask yourself the same questions on a regular basis and record your answers. Sometimes, depending on the reason for your guided journaling, these questions will be given to you. For example, Alcoholics Anonymous may suggest that members use guided journaling to keep track of their progress and assess themselves regularly. AA provides a set of questions for you to use in this situation. Or you may be able to create your own set of questions, and seek your own answers to them daily, weekly, or monthly.

Periodic Reflection:
You can keep a regular diary or journal, writing something in it daily, and then look back on your writings at the end of each month. Your reflection on these writings enables you to evaluate your state of mind over time, your progress in any area, or anything else you want to review. Studies have shown that interactive journal writing -- you, having a dialogue with yourself -- stimulates both the process of reflection and the personal learning process.

Dream Journal:
Some people say they never dream, others that they never remember their dreams. The fact is that everybody dreams. Keeping a dream journal can not only make you more proficient in remembering your dreams, but can reveal patterns in your dreams over time that can lead to interesting self-discovery. One popular way of keeping a dream journal is to have your journal next to your bed with a pen handy. If you wake up after having a dream, write it down immediately, as much as you can remember. If you don't wake up during the night, in the morning you can record whatever you recall of your dreams. Some individuals who habitually get up several times in the night to use the bathroom keep their dream journals on the counter there!

Any of these guided journal techniques serves a purpose, whether that purpose is to understand yourself better, answer your own questions, or preserve your memories. You can find a myriad of websites on the Internet that will share other guided journal techniques, or even offer courses -- free or not -- on how to use such techniques. Whether yours is a pen-and-paper journal or an online blog, if you want to get the most out of your journaling efforts, you will need to remain committed to regular journaling. Have fun, and may you find what you're looking for in your journal!

Copyright © Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ
WriteSparks! creator

PS: Start journaling today! Please check out my two books, "The Journaling Life: 21 Types of Journals You Can Create and Record Pieces of Your Life" and "The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between". Order an autographed copy of one or both books today and receive bo.nus gifts. Shipping is anywhere in the US :o).

The Journaling Life book:

The Authentic Self book:

A Few Words from The Writing Mama

I found many of these ideas also great for finding writing ideas or even for building character development. I have looked back on journals I wrote in high school or even college to help flesh out a character or to brainstorm story ideas. One book I'm working on is based off two events from my own personal life as I realized I had never really dealt with the problem and feelings I had back then. Using these events in a book and walking through those old feelings has helped me moved on and heal after all this time.

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