For most people, journaling is something from their past; something that they did when they were younger to recount their days or stretch their imagination. However, for those who abandoned the idea of journaling with the rest of their childhood habits, it may be time to start the process up again.
The art of free form journaling has become one of the most proven and successful forms of idea generation for today’s busy and creative minds. Even if you don’t work in a particularly creative field, journaling can help you think out loud, form ideas, clear your mind, and help set up free-flowing ideas for the rest of the day.
It is a practice that has become so popular, that different organizations such as 750Words.com are helping those who want to begin free-form journaling to start making it a daily habit. The concept was actually based on the concept of Morning Pages, as depicted in the popular Julia Cameron book, the Artist’s Way.This site in particular, brings hundreds of thousands of individuals together so they can keep each other motivated and on task with this exercise.
So, what exactly is free form journaling?
One of the most important features of free form journaling is that there is no real structure and there are no real rules. Most experts recommend writing between 500-1000 words at a time, but it can really be any length.
For those who are new to the idea of journaling, three whole pages can seem like a lot, however, with free writing, this many words can be anything at all. There is no structure. You don’t even need to write in complete sentences. You can write out ideas, names, thoughts, stories, or partial phrases.
Think of free writing as a form of meditation that requires a little more effort and delivers even more results. With free form journaling you need to hold on to your thoughts just the slightest-bit longer, bringing a little more brain power to your relaxation technique. This is a great exercise for those who appreciate the serenity and clear-mindfulness that meditation brings, but who may find it to be too simple, or who may find it juts sends them to sleep every time they let their mind relax.
If you are just getting started, here is how free form journaling works.
- Give yourself a limit on time, or on length, depending on which you prefer. When you reach your limit, stop. You are done writing, even if you think you could do more.
- Make sure to write quickly so you can get as many ideas out as possible, but don’t write in a hurry. Don’t pause to think or to edit or read what you have already written. Your goal is to write until you have reached your goal and to do as much writing as possible in your allotted time.
- Let the grammar rules go. For those who normally obsessive over commas, style, syntax, flow and proper punctuation, let it go. You don’t need to cross your t’s and dot your I’s even. These things do not matter, all that matters is the act of writing.
- As you continue to write for your allotted time, don’t worry about running out of thoughts or ideas. If one stream of thought ends, start writing on something else. The words should always be flowing. It doesn’t matter if what comes into your head is nonsense or not.
It is really that simple. Chances are you will notice some of the parallels to meditation, and as soon as you begin implanting free form writing into your everyday routine you will see why free journaling has become so popular. If you are nervous about getting started and feel as though you won’t be able to write that long 750Words.com has a great little trick for those new to the practice.
If you are bored or uncomfortable with writing, what you’re writing about or this exercise in general, ask yourself why and start writing about that. It can be as simple as “I’m bored because I don’t like writing,” but it is a great way to start getting the thoughts flowing.
Many individuals who start participating in this daily exercise are shocked by the thoughts and ideas that come from their subconscious. They are thrilled with the mental clarity that their daily activities bring and they are often able to come up with new thoughts, ideas and solutions that they never thought were possible before.
While you may not be a writer, or particularly creative for that matter, or aspiring to create the next great American novel, it doesn’t mean that free form journaling isn’t for you. Push yourself, give it a try and see first-hand the way this activity can clear your mind.