Writing and Being – Embracing Your Life through Creative Journaling by Lynn Nelson | Book Review

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!

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Once I decided I wanted to read more about the craft of keeping a journal I browsed through all (?) of 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 an 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 even 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 information out of this book. But gosh, was I wrong! It’s actually strange that I haven’t read any books about journaling until now, since it is such a huge interest of mine. But now was the right time for this I guess.

There is so much to learn and get to know, how can we ever think we’re fully educated? We can never have too much information on subjects that we are interested in or in any practices we want to pursue. For me, 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!

Notes in my diary, Photo & copyright Hanna Andersson of www.ihanna.nu

Anyway, Nelson’s book is interesting and such an inspiring reading experience, with lots of prompts to follow up your practice with. I like the spiritual part of this book too (!). The spirituallity of the book is something that you might spot as evident in the title, I mean 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 and 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 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 according to Mr. Nelson, and I agree. It’s a ventilation hole in a busy world. But he also believes that if you keep up this practice you will want to take some things “out of your journal” and work further with it.

I think it’s a great idea! Nelson uses this in his class and if you’re a language teacher you could do the same in your workshops. I recommend as a must to get this book and give your pupils some journals – right now!

Writing & Being

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 your authentic self. It explores journaling a bit deeper, sometimes presenting subjects you yourself are avoiding or not even 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 the journaling book 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!

Amazon affiliate link to Writing and Being: Embracing Your Life Through Creative Journaling by G. Lynn Nelson

9 Responses

  1. When my DH was still living so far away I used to have a diary to keep him informed of everything I did but never gave it to him, decided to keep it to myself as my diary. When the kids appeared I stopped writing but maybe I’ll buy the book!!!!!!!!

  2. I’ve been convinced forever that writing is my meditation and my therapy. When I sit quietly with my journal it’s like I can access a wiser person within myself who knows all the answers to the questions I have and who loves me despite my clumsy moments. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

  3. Hello,

    I really enjoyed your blog and hearing about whta you are reading. As a teacher and journaling advocate, I agree that Lynn’s book is a wonderful one.

    I also thought you might be interested in reading my book, Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal which shares the long-term benefits of journal keeping and that is for the benefit of future generations!

    Happy writing!

    PS. VIsit my blog, http://www.dianaraab.wordpress.com

  4. What a great post Hanna. will put this book on my wish list. as I read down I saw the photo which contains a quote from Lauryn Hill song “everything is everything”. and then I saw that you saw it on my blog. And I’m so glad that you found it as inspiring as I have.

    best wishes for lots more journalling

  5. I have just been watchiong G. Lynn Nelson on a DVD called Living the Questions. Its awesome, the DVD and the spiritual journey.
    I have written letters to friends, long long letters for the last 60 years.. now I e.mail forever… documenting my life and thoughts… does that count as journaling, or does one have to have one’s thoughts flow through pen to paper… …..
    Also I guess I am writing to others, but each person is different so I express myself differently to each of them…. mmmm any thoughts?

  6. I am a teacher. I have kept a journal for over 30 years. A few years ago I came upon G. Lynn Nelsons “Writing and Being” in a teachers group gathering which was starting to form a writing project group. We were told to choose a book to read and then share with the others in the group. At the time I was working at letting go of a lot of things, material as well as emotional. When I saw this book I picked it up and, as I skimmed through it, it opened up to chapter four on “Letting Go.” I was surprised at this and closed the book. I opened it again and once again it turned to chapter four. I knew then that I just had to read it. I felt the book had found me.
    Just like Mr. Nelson, I believe that journaling should be used in the classroom. I have my students writing in their journals almost everyday and I feel that this has made them more comfortable with their own voice and words.

  7. Fell upon this book ‘by accident’ while purchasing similar books on Amazon. I love Amazon because it gives you a chance to preview books you would never think of reading or buying, especially if they are not found at your local library.
    “Writing and Being” by G. Lynn Nelson is a fabulous find. For the last year I have kept it on my side table and open it every day. What a great little book and source of inspiration. I’d love to take his classes.

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