I love talking with people about their journaling practice and I find that there are many aspiring journalers out there. One of the barriers I hear from many people is that they can’t just write on command. Many of us, myself included, find it easy to journal when we feel stuck or overwhelmed. But to write when those circumstances do not present themselves…can be a little bit tricky.
Distinguish Between Fear & Wisdom
You might be wondering, if writing stream of consciousness does not come easily, than why do it?
I mentioned in my book, that “You must learn to listen from within and distinguish between the voice of your inner critic and the wisdom of your inner genius. The former will help you out of fear while the later will guide you to heightened levels of self-awareness and self-actualization.”
Writing stream of consciousness gives you space to deepen the awareness of your patterns of thought and access new perspectives. It helps you put to words something that’s been this nagging feeling you could not quite articulate. And it enables you to codify your ideas so you may make them actionable.
Furthermore, when you go back and review your writing (something we’ll talk about more later), you can really start to see the patterns in your thinking. What emerges is a deeper awareness of the voice of your inner critic, so you may stop it from sabotaging your efforts. Journaling stream of consciousness also cultivates your ability to tap into the wisdom of your inner genius so you may fully leverage those gems in your work and life.
There’s Not One Right Way to Journal
I think it is important to acknowledge that there is not one right way to write in your journal. Your journal is a place for you to process your thoughts, feelings, aspirations and situations for yourself first and foremost.
I often hear people bemoan, “am I doing it right?” when I coach them in journaling.
Such questions can hold you back from writing in your journal and getting the most out of using this transformational tool. If you’re getting something out of your journaling practice, than you’re doing great. I give you permission to let go of doing it the “right” way so you may find the best way for you.
Find the Best Way to Journal for You
According to Wikipedia, Stream of consciousness writing is “a narrative mode or method that attempts to depict the multitudinous thoughts and feelings which pass through the mind.” In the world of literature, there’s tremendous analysis and direction around stream of consciousness writing that may or may not be relevant for your jouranling practice.
My stream of consciousness writing typically comes out in one long unyielding paragraph that can sometimes go on for 4-5 pages. Other times I write stream of consciousness in bullet points, lists or mind maps. It really depends on what’s on my mind, how cluttered with thoughts or feelings my mind is and what I’m trying to process.
Generally, and unlike in literature, stream of consciousness writing in your journal only makes sense to the person who wrote it. After all, these are your thought processes being documented; they are raw, unfiltered, unedited and typically appear non-sequential (even though the connections might be clear to you). And even I sometimes go back and wonder, “what the heck was I saying here”?
Start By Writing Observations About Your Surroundings
Despite everything I’ve shared so far, you may still struggle to use your journal for stream of consciousness writing. I find that this is typically due to a mental block, one that literally stops you from taking what’s in your mind and getting it down on paper. This could be out of fear, uncertainty or simply a lack of training.
If you’re not in the habit of writing things down, it can feel strange to process your thoughts in this way. And even for those of us that tend to write, it can be hard when the normal stimuli to journal, i.e. feeling overwhelmed by a situation, is missing. Getting started is usually the hardest part.
I find it helpful to start by writing observations about my surroundings. Often times that means I literally write about the weather. It can seem mundane, but after a sentence, sometimes more, my mind takes me elsewhere and I explore that in my writing.
This is a quote directly from my journal of how I started writing stream of consciousness recently…
“Here I am. Sitting on my couch to write my morning pages. We had a crazy spring – late spring – snow storm this week. It snowed all day Thursday and was crappy on Friday too. A bunch of trees lost their branches because of the weight of the wet snow on their leaves!”
The real juice is what comes after and that’s for my eyes only 😉 But you have to start somewhere!
What’s Rosabella Consulting Up To?
Last week I had the pleasure of facilitating a Conversational Intelligence training for a team of Career Counselors with the Colorado State University’s College of Business. I followed our simple yet powerful process for planning and customizing the training so I was modeling co-creating conversations. As a result there was enthusiastic engagement from everyone.
This is what Andrea Karappas had to say about it, “Our Conversational Intelligence training with Rosabella Consulting was a great experience! Ariana partnered with me to co-create a program that met my goals and expectations. She was extremely responsive and attentive. She cared about providing a valuable experience for my team and did just that!”