Friday, March 09, 2007

Journaling

A little serendipity that may benefit some of you. As you know, I am a tennis pro and freelance editor. One thing I do to keep up with the latest news about the pro tennis scene for my blog is read Peter Bodo's blog. The other day he mentioned something that I already knew so well I take it for granted, as if everyone knows it. But why should everyone know it? Because not everyone is a writer - of a blog or opinion pieces or essays.

When my editor James Martin came to me and asked how I felt about writing an essay highlighting what I felt the new generation of young 'uns could learn from past champions, I answered, "sure." Of course I had no idea where I would go with that, and this is one of the great pleasures of writing an essay. One of the reasons I've stubbornly continued to be a writer is because writing about something is the best way I know to figure out how I really feel about it, and I'm the sort of person who always likes to be able to say why he likes - or dislikes - something. I don't know, just because I like it, just doesn't cut it. And trying to write clearly and logically tends to be a pretty good check on prejudice and preconception; it's amazing how often I'll write a few sentences and then realize that they don't really stand up to close scrutiny. It may seem strange for a writer of commentary and opinion to put it this way, because I imagine the popular assumption is that I have my ideas and theories, and then try to articulate and justify them in prose. That happens, sometimes. But most of the time, writing is a journey of discovery. I finish a story, or post, or scene in a novel and realize it went somewhere entirely different from where I vaguely expected it to go.

Exactly. I used to say that writing is thinking. It not only helps you get in touch with your feelings and explore a topic, but that white sheet of paper leaves no place for prejudice, denial, anti-logic, half-truth, or any other form of sloppy thinking to hide.

I don't know for sure, but I think this is why some authorities suggest that the victims of abuse journal.

When you do, you go through the process that Bodo is talking about. I have but one bit of advice to add.

Remember that journaling is private writing. Like a diary. It is as sacrosanct as the privacy of the mind. It has no audience. You need that privacy to have the freedom to be brutally honest. If you journal in pain, you may feel like shouting your words from the highest mountain top, but a few years later, you'll be glad you kept these thoughts to yourself. You may even delete them.

That's okay. You've forgotten your other thoughts from that long ago too.

But you will have achieved a clarity and understanding that will benfit you for the rest of your life.


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2 Comments:

At 5:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to encourage all those who are considering journaling to NOT WORRY about whether you're a 'great' writer or not. Just do it. I journaled during my first N experience and it really helped me get away from him. Once I looked back over months and years and saw the patterns of abuse emerging, it helped me gather the courage to quit waiting for him to change, and get away. And if it's over now and you're working it out, you need to write even more.
Just get a journal and start, and be sure to keep it where it won't be found. You may find it's more private to not keep it electronically at all. (Yes, pen and a real piece of paper.)
Btw I'm also a pro editor and writer and have to add my 'amen' to the statements about how wonderfully writing can reveal and surprise us.

 
At 1:59 PM, Blogger Louise said...

I agree 100 % and cannot stress hard enough how much journalling helped this past year. It allowed me to be able to document the abuse from Lil Sis as it was happening as well as track back through our entire lives the pattern we followed.

Since she died almost 3 months ago, I still suffer nightmares occasionally- in them, she is still alive and "faked" her death as a way to mess with our minds even more; she's waiting to re-emerge and create havoc. It's like PSTD- I was actually afraid she would kill me and my husband to obtain custody of our kids- to a large degree, I am glad she is gone and unable to hurt anyone else ever again.

Thank goodness for therapy.

 

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