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Journal writing
girl writing in diary courtesy of Big Stock Photo
Gina Quarles : Why Journal?

Healing Through Creativity

Why Journal?

“It's the best therapist in the world.”

By Gina Quarles

Do you ever wonder why so many people talk about journaling? Who has the time? Why bother? I don't want others to see it. The list of excuses or reasons for not journaling can be long. I used to ask myself these same questions many years ago. That was until I was in a book store and fell in love with the art on a journal cover that the store was selling. I had to have it. When I got home, I decided to give this journaling thing a whirl.

At first, I sat and pondered over what to write. Then it came to me. This is not meant to be difficult! It is meant to be enjoyable or therapeutic, as I have heard or read somewhere. So, I began to write about my day. I wrote about what I saw on the way to the bookstore, the weather, the book I was looking for and then it happened.

I noticed my writing went from the routines of the day, to some raw emotions suddenly beginning to surface. I was living in Seattle, WA, at the time and the weather was, well, Seattle-ish. Let's just say, a bit grey. But, as I was writing about the weather, some very real feelings were beginning to emerge. My writing quickly went from neat and legible, to scribbling, as the pen was moving rapidly now. It was like something came over me and said, "Run with it Gina!"

That, in fact, is what I did. I did not censor what I wrote, I did not fix my misspellings. I did not fix any run-on sentences. I just wrote like crazy. On and on I kept writing. Suddenly, I found myself five pages into my new, beautiful journal. I noticed I had been carrying around some very real feelings that I must have kept bottled up in me as well. It was at a time in my life, when I had lived far away from any of our family. I was a new stay-at-home mom after 10 years of working outside of the home. My husband at the time, worked many hours. It was mostly myself and my two-year-old daughter at the time on most days.

When I read what I had written in my new journal, I soon realized how many times I said, "miss." I missed my family. I missed my husband. I missed my friends. I missed Hood River, OR, where we had moved from just recently. I missed hiking. I missed, I missed, I missed. I guess I never wanted to admit how much I did indeed really,"miss" some things. But, it soon became evident though the simple process of making a journal entry.

I now understood the rave about journaling. I got it. At first, I was very surface in my writing, so to speak, and then after staying with it, it was soon leading me. It revealed some things I did not even realize that were very important. Since it helped me to see myself more clearly, I could deal with my emotions now and be more in tune with myself.

So many times, we can just go through the motions of every day life day-in and day-out. You wake up, do the same old, same old. We can soon begin to live on autopilot without even realizing it. You tell yourself, this is life and what I do. It can be referred to as a rut. Whatever you refer to it as, I feel it is not really living to our fullest and our most complete life.

Journaling provided me just a small glimpse into my psyche and showed me where some very real feelings were not being tended to and/or addressed. Journaling has helped me uncover many emotions. I soon began to incorporate journaling regularly into my daily life. I love going back years later and reading some of the older entries from years ago. I now own more than just the one journal with the pretty art on the cover! It is amazing how much you can forget though out the years of your life. My daughter is fourteen today.

It is interesting to read and see how much I have changed emotionally and mentally since then as well. Some things that bothered me at the time, are not even an issue now. Life is like that — thank goodness! I noticed areas where I was proactive. Much of my unhappiness in life had changed for the better. It was gratifying to see where I grew and matured in comparison to the very things I wrote that I was not happy with.

Journaling is definitely a wonderful way to evaluate your life. It can be used as a healing tool as well. It was my launching pad into writing even more than I had been already doing. I found out more of what I wanted to write about though journaling. It was stepping stone as well for my discovery of writing poetry.The discovery of poetry and how naturally it flows out of me is a special gift that would have been left undiscovered if it were not for journaling. The list is endless of what you can discover about yourself and our world though the practicing of journaling.

You may find that some of your entries can be used as reference points and or topics for further writing pieces as well. Another benefit being, it is the best therapist in the world! It is a great listener and the fees are very reasonable. You will find answers for your behavior and or passions for things you never would dream would be of any interest previously. I discovered and appreciate more about the natural beauty that surrounds us every day though journaling.

Journaling can take you places you would never imagine you would normally go. I encourage you to try it. It is a wonderful tool and a gift to yourself. Please do not get caught up in the "what if?" fears. What if someone else reads this? What if I use bad language? What if people I mention get their hands on it? Let all of the "what if" thoughts go away. Or purchase a journal with a lock, or store it in a small safe. Do whatever it takes if you need that privacy, but do journal. After all, it is your truth and your little gem of enlightenment. So go get your pen out and get busy! •

© 2013 Gina Quarles. All rights reserved.

Gina QuarlesGina Quarles is a mom, wife and a creative soul who is passionate about the art of writing. She's currently recovering from a near-death auto accident and working on a book, which is an outlet for her healing. She encourages others along the way through kindness and hope. More »