Writing: A necessity for joy

I wrote a few weeks back about my resolution to seek and fight for joy in my life.

I’m generally consider myself an optimistic person, but I can really be plagued with moments of extreme doubt.  Paralyzed almost.  And if I’m not careful, these moments can stretch longer, and have a much greater effect on everything around me. 

At the start of this year, I really resolved to seek joy, but it turns out resolving to do something doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have the tools to help you get there.  For me, I’d forgotten how much writing it out really helps me process and let go of things.  It helps me give it a place. Put a name to whatever is frustrating me and then move on and do something from there.  I had a couple good friends listen as I rambled, because I just kept failing to make the time to put it down in writing, so that ultimately helped me some.  But really, writing would have been so much quicker.  Not publicly, mind you.  But at least in my personal journal.  Its been collecting dust since October. I don’t know why I always forget this. 

I went to a little round-robin clinic about different health matters lately, and one of the topics was “journaling”. 

I almost didn’t want to go to it.  Actually, I didn’t want to go to it, but it was the last one left.  So I went.  And it turns out it was just what I needed to hear. 

“Journaling shouldn’t be a burden to you, just another thing that you have to do.  It should be something that helps you be.”

That quote was like a key unlocking a deep issue I’ve had with writing.  Journaling looks so different for everyone.  I know others do this, but I find the very idea of making myself write in a journal every day to be suffocating.  Mostly because I hate anyone telling me what to do, including myself, apparently.  But II admit more importantly because I have a fear of failure and journaling is a way to blatantly record all of those messy failures.  I find old journals to be a liability.  They are evidence of an imperfect past, of my human nature and of a perspective continuously evolving that is never complete. A snippet in time that maybe, shouldn’t have been recorded because that wasn’t the end goal. That was just a post-marker. A point I needed to stop and suck air because I was so winded. And that can be hard to look back on and read. 

Sometimes I just get overwhelmed with sadness at the person I was. Which is ironic because some of my writings on subfertility are some of my most treasured possessions.

But its my nature to just get stuck right there.  And not move any further. To dwell on the negative.

And here’s the incredible irony.

By dwelling on the fact that “I’m not there yet”, in letting that negative self-talk stop me from writing down my thoughts, I fail to allow myself to process what I’m going through, therefore stunting any possibility for growth in the future. Because writing it how I process it. I just get stuck in a cycle of not moving anywhere.  This is somewhat what I was trying to touch on when I wrote this

I’m going to try to focus more on the journey, rather than just wanting immediate results. Maybe I’m finally learning that “I’m not there yet” is a straw-man argument because “there” doesn’t really exist.

Anyway, the base of it is that if writing helps you know yourself, you should do it, simply because then it allows you to be yourself.  And we need more people who are passionately themselves so they can make changes in this world.

For me, writing is a necessary step towards joy, and something that I’ve been missing. 

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I just want to clarify, since this is a public blog, that I don’t necessarily mean writing for all the world to see, but writing for myself to process complicated thoughts and emotions. I haven’t even been doing that. I strive to strike the right balance between sharing privately and publicly, because unfortunately, sometimes I think more damage than good can be done when we share immature thoughts on a public forum.

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8 thoughts on “Writing: A necessity for joy

  1. “I hate anyone telling me what to do, including myself, apparently.” Yes! This is me to a T. And I think that’s why I also dislike writing a personal journal. That’s also why I get annoyed with blogging some times, especially when I feel like I have to force myself. We’re our own worst enemy.

    • ha, yup! its usually only good reading when it isn’t forced as well, so i really try not to force it but let it come naturally, since that benefits everyone!

  2. This is what blogging taught me – that I have to write to process things. And that, as much as I am an extrovert and process things by saying them out loud, it really is a combination of both saying out loud to another and writing that helps me process. I think that is why spiritual direction has helped me so much.

    I was never a journal or diary writer before blogging. Since blogging, I have a combination of all sorts of of un-published posts and hand-written journals. Like you, I used to only see those journals as evidence of past mistakes, and I do still cringe at old thing I’ve written – especially public things, but at the same time, I see patterns and threads of growth that I wouldn’t see at all without the writing.

    All that to say – I get it :).

    • wow, it does sound like spiritual direction is great because of all those angles! i’m so glad you’re having a good experience with it. i have had journals my whole life. i guess i naturally go through phases and that desire to work it out by writing has always been there so, i know i’ll always keep coming back to it.

  3. I find journaling overwhelming. I think I have to write in it everyday and if I don’t I’m a bad/not serious journaler. When I do journal it is usually during my prayer time because that’s when I’m more free to write without distractions and not thinking too much.

    • I think this is what gets me too…the “competition” aspect of it, or the fear that I’m “doing it wrong”. I’ve really had to release myself from that and accept that though I won’t write every day and I may tend to write more when I’m upset, that’s ok. Its still serving a purpose for me. Incidentally, I started a “blessing jar” to write down things I’m thankful for to counteract the “negativity as a muse” phenomena, but it turns out that could be just another thing to suck at :) Its unassuming and going great so far! Probably because its nothing that I’ll hang on to for posterity, I’ll probably just throw them away at the end of the year…we’ll see.

  4. Your thoughts make a lot of sense to me! I used to journal a LOT – I have 50+ complete journals that date back to high school – but that slowed down when I got married. The journal entries I did make post-marriage now really depress me because the first part is filled with innocent bliss and hope of motherhood and the latter part with a lot of grief that’s a little too raw to re-read. Plus I journal a lot on my blog now, which is great because it comes with support! But I do want to get back into journaling, if nothing else than to force myself to remember that there’s more to my life than being childless. I’d like to have a record of what I did years down the road. So maybe that’s less “processing” (which I do a lot of on my blog) and more recording. Anyway, thanks for the thought-provoking post!

    • Ah, I SO understand. I think I’m coming to a conclusion that really, journals aren’t meant to be read later. At least for me, they serve a purpose here and now. The same woman that I quoted up above in the post recommended that maybe I could burn them afterwards, if that gave release. I think locking away in a box I don’t open for 30 years may be a better idea…

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