Writing and Being: Embracing Your Life Through Creative Journaling – Heal your past, claim your present and transform your future by G. Lynn Nelson. Here comes my book review now!
Once I decided I want to read more about the craft of keeping a journal I browsed through all (?) the books on the subject at Amazon before I picked one, just one for now. It’s called Writing and Being: Embracing Your Life Through Creative Journaling and it’s written by a guy named G. Lynn Nelson. He is a author and academic writing teacher that has been journaling, like me, for most of his life. He asks of all his students to start writing a daily journal and keep writing no matter what. He says that we need to find our own language and words, because it is important for our personal development, thinking and creativity. We have been taught how to write in school so we know how to use the traditional “critical, left-brained, technical writing”, but we also need to find how to express emotions and our soul on paper! I absolutely agree with him on this though I haven’t thought about it in these terms before.
I’m extremely happy with my choice of buying this book! I feared that it would be of good use mostly for beginners to get them started and that I as (I must say) experienced diary keeper wouldn’t get much new info from this book. Gosh, was I wrong! It’s actually strange that I haven’t read a book about journaling until now, but now was the right time for this I guess.
There is so much to learn and know, how can we ever think we’re fully learned? We can never have to much information on subjects that we love and practices we want to pursue. I do love writing with a passion and have done so since my childhood. I can’t imagine I’ll ever stop writing… I’ve had an ongoing diary for 21 years now and never stopped (!) even though I don’t write daily. You might call me a writing addict but after reading this book (and many articles on the subject) I know it’s one of the best addictions one can have! Write write write everyone!
Anyway, Nelson’s book is interesting and inspiring reading with lots of prompts to follow up your practice with. I like the spiritual part of this book to, that is evident in the title with the magic word “being”. Not only writing words but “being” there. To find your true writing you must find stillness first, be in the now and maybe even do a little meditation before you start writing. To sit with your journal with some blank pages open in front of you for a few minutes breathing before you start is something Nelson encourages. I love this reference to meditation practice because I truly believe in the connection between creativity and meditation!
Each prompt offered in Writing and Being has two levels. First you write about a subject the author suggests, then you re-read your text to see if there is anything there that you want to use in what Nelson calls “Public Writing”. It might be a sentence you want to make into a poem or a page you want to make into a new similar text that is re-worked and edited. I see imagine one would journal in a notebook and re-write on the computer later, but that’s just what I think would be a nice process. This isn’t anything that I’ve ever tried and I don’t know if I want to either, but it’s an interesting concept, right? I imagine it would be very useful if you want to share your writing with others or develop your skills as a writer! What you write in your journal must and should be private says Nelson, and I agree. It’s a ventilation hole in a busy world! But he also believes that if you keep this practice you will want to take some things “out of your journal” and work with it. what do you think about that? I think it’s a great idea! Nelson uses this in class and if you’re a language teacher you must get this book and give your pupils some journals – right now!
I truly recommend this book if you are interested in doing some intentional, guided journaling. My own diary is mostly that, a diary of day to day activities and thoughts. Using prompts makes it easier to use journaling as a way to find my authentic self. It explores a bit deeper, sometimes presenting subjects you yourself are avoiding or not even being aware of! Beyond mere diary writing, these creative journaling methods really makes me want to run to my diary and write write write! I only need to start reading the first few pages about pens and notebooks to get my juices flowing…
Plus, this book “explains the biology behind the powerful experience of journaling by laying out recent discoveries about the human brain, showing how journaling can heal psychological and spiritual wounds” just like meditation can and that is just plain cool!
Finally a quote from Writing and Being:
Let us not, you and I, be paralyzed by the sometimes madness of the world. Let us follow our writing and our being inward to that quiet place within ourselves and let us be centered there.
Amen to that brother!