By Nina Day Gerard
Writing is in my blood. It’s in my DNA. It’s in my soul. I’ve been writing since I was a kid. That being the case, adding journaling to the mix just feels like working one of my many alternate writing muscles, along with poetry, fiction, short stories, novels, and scripts. It’s probably much different than it is for someone whose only form of writing is journaling.
Because I write so much, journaling has almost never been a daily practice. Rather, I turn to it when I need to get quiet and reflective, when I need to go within, and most often when I’m working out a specific issue.
This is how I first discovered Mari McCarthy and her workshops. She was listed in the WOW! Women on Writing newsletter, another great resource for women writers (look for the review of my new book on their website today!)
Journaling through specific issues and times of challenge opens thought and energizes our inner capability to find answers. We become open to possibilities that maybe we hadn’t thought of before. Journaling can move us into a great place of listening.
I’ve done Mari’s 27 Days to Health and Happiness Challenge twice (and the next one’s in September, check it out!). The first time, I was feeling extremely out of balance in all areas, and needed to center myself. The second time, I felt completely trapped and creatively paralyzed by my living situation. It’s critical for any artist to feel safe and inspired in the spaces in which they live and create, and they’re often the same space.
I experienced significant insight both times, but the second time was especially powerful. It was as if I whispered my desire to the Universe and almost overnight, my desire had taken shape—my husband and I were moving out of the apartment we’d lived in for seven years. Now, mind you, this didn’t happen in the way I’d imagined (huge breakthroughs in our careers resulting in our dream home). It was more like a completely unplanned eruption that forced us into a new situation: our landlord lost his job, and he and his wife were forced to put the house up for short sale.
Some people might say “be careful what you wish for,” but I embraced the opportunity and trusted the Universe’s plan for us. Soon after that, we moved into the apartment we were ready for at that stage in our lives. It was only five miles from my husband’s job (and equally close from all of the medical facilities we needed when my husband faced a health crisis the following year). Rather than being distracted by our surroundings, we were able to get settled in our new place and re-focus on our creative goals.
Which brings me to my most recent journaling experience, the 22 Days Life Transitions Challenge. I had made what I felt to be significant progress in my writing career on several fronts. I’ve written both scripts and fiction. But I found with my scriptwriting that while I’d get close to what I considered to be real, tangible success, in the end the door would always slam shut: I’d get to certain round in a competition and then not win; my manager got my script on a top show creator’s desk, and then fell victim to a fatal disease before she could follow up (I might add, she was also a dear friend, who believed in me and cheered me on—the loss was great on so many levels); I finally got a new agent, but that turned out to be worse than having no representation at all.
That cycle of “almost” was maddening. And yet … I was also in the process of publishing a book (which, as one of the lightbulb moments during the challenge reminded me, was really my dream all along, until we moved to Los Angeles, and I allowed myself to be talked into the pursuit of scriptwriting for all the wrong reasons). Not a big deal, right? Except that I was almost so distracted by the wreckage of all that was going wrong, that I wasn’t putting my energy behind what was going right.
With the exception of a few bumps in the road which come with any major undertaking, my journey with this book has been magical. Somehow, I garnered the lead designer and chief editor at the publishing company on my book, along with the rest of the fantastic team. The response from friends and strangers alike to my pre-launch marketing efforts was amazing. People who had never met me before went out of their way to help me promote the book from launch announcements to podcast interviews. Could it be any more obvious? The book is my career transition.
Even more profound than that has been the realization that almost everyone in my immediate circle is in transition: my mother is looking for a new living situation; two others, a dear friend, and a family member made their transitions out of earthly life recently; yet another family member is searching for her career path as well as a solution to marital woes.
The list goes on, but the point is, I feel as if I was not only garnering the tools for my own period of transition with this challenge, but also as if I was being prepared to move through others’ transitions with them, or at least to support them.
Journaling is a powerful tool for everyone who is willing to invest the time in themselves. And journaling can be a beautiful addition to a writer’s work in particular.
Nina Day Gerard loves to write about love. Her first novel, My Brother’s Keeper is available now. Watch the trailer here! She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and her muse, a little Calico named Celine.