Tips on Journaling – October 2002

Link: Companions in Christ | Tools & Tips.

From Marjorie Thompson, Companions in Christ Spiritual Director

Many of our participants express reservations or outright resistance to the idea of keeping a daily journal. Yet journaling is a key part of the Companions experience, enabling each participant to track thoughts, insights, questions, feelings, and images that arise from the readings and reflective exercises each week. How can you, as a leader, encourage your group members to be open to this very fruitful discipline?

Let me suggest that you help people to perceive journaling in a light-handed way. Most of us think of keeping a journal as an onerous task, involving volumes of writing. But the idea here is simply to jot down the core ideas or images that come as gift in the midst of reflection and prayer. We have already stressed that these notes need not be written in complete sentences. They can be sentence fragments, much like the thoughts that often come to us. Words can be interspersed with drawings if a person relates to ideas or possibilities through the realm of images more than abstract concepts. Encourage those who so desire to draw or sketch images that come to mind as they read and engage in the daily exercises.

Julia Cameron, in her book The Artists’ Way, helps people move toward the practice of journaling through an exercise she calls "the Morning Pages." You simply write down words, ordinary and un-profound thoughts, until 3 pages are filled. Even if you just write: "I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to do this." for 3 pages, it’s all right. The purpose is to practice writing, getting words down on paper so you can begin to release and see what is within you. We have had at least one Companions leader use Cameron’s exercise as an example of one way to "break the ice" in keeping a journal. You might consider suggesting it to anyone who seems to have difficulty with the journal-keeping part of the Companions commitment