08/10/20 BLOG 18: JOURNALING – GETTING OVER THE FEAR OF THE BLANK PAGE
This weeks blog comes from CLiCK’s very own Shannon who is sharing some reflections and tips on journaling as she picks up her pen after a long break.
I religiously kept a journal when I was a kid. I wrote about how school was going, what I got up to with my pals at the weekend, who I fancied, and my heartaches. I vividly remember writing in my journal before going to see Busted live when I was nine: “I love Charlie Simpson! I hope he loves me too”. Writing about my innermost thoughts and feelings came easy to me then. I had so much to say and felt everything so intensely, utterly convinced that I was the only person in the history of the Earth to feel these feelings. The only logical thing to do was to pour out these thoughts and feelings onto the page, like all the literary greats before me, and then padlock the journal shut.
As I got older, social media became my journal. My early Facebook memories, circa 2009, are a cringey mix of song lyrics, complaints about my school timetable, and musings about what colour to dye my hair. Over time, I’ve stopped actually writing about how I feel on social media and instead communicate through the language of memes.
With the commercial boom of all things self-care, particularly during the pandemic, writing in a physical journal has made a big come back. A search for #journaling on Instagram brings up a plethora of journals filled with stunning calligraphy, colourful illustrations, and beautiful prose. I’m very prone to following trends and jumping on the odd Instagram band wagon or two. So, naturally, I bought my very own journal. I had the intention of filling the blank pages with creative writing, sketches, daily agendas, and lofty life goals. I was excited to have my own Instagrammable journal.
I sat down with my new journal a few nights ago, ready to bare my soul in a creative way. I opened the journal and stared at the blank page. Frustratingly, like my recent experience of designing a tote bag, my creativity didn’t flow. I had no idea what to write. I didn’t want to mess up the first blank page with rubbish. I wanted to create something beautiful and represent how I’ve been feeling lately in an eye-catching way. Then I remembered a quote I had heard on a podcast a few weeks previously: “perfectionism is just fear in really good shoes”. What was I afraid of? I began to write.
I started scribbling away about how I had been feeling lately, how I had been struggling to make time for the things I knew would make me feel better like stretching, reading, and weight-training. I wrote about the frustration of trying to find a creative hobby that felt right for me. Suddenly I was nine years old again with a lot to say. My writing was messy, I made loads of spelling mistakes, and I wrote in one continuous paragraph…for four and a half pages. Were any of those pages “instagrammable”? Not in the slightest. Did I make a literary breakthrough? No. But getting down my thoughts and feelings helped massively. I’m not alone in finding journaling beneficial for my mental wellbeing.
Your journal doesn’t need to look perfect or match a certain aesthetic. You don’t need to buy fancy stationary and you don’t even need to buy an actual journal; you can scribble down your thoughts on the back of an envelope with an old pencil. If you find it hard to get started with writing, there’s loads of writing prompts available online. You can even start off with just trying to write one sentence about how you feel every morning or every evening. Don’t worry about your spelling, grammar, or whether or not what you’re writing even makes sense. Your journal is for you and there is no pressure to share it with anyone else. There is no right or wrong way to keep a journal, all that matters is that you find a way that works for you.