I started journaling as a young girl. So young, that I was learning how to write cursive when I started keeping a journal. I have no idea where the instinct to write down my thoughts and feelings came from but it is an impulse that has run fairly consistently throughout the past 40 years of my life.
Journaling grew from being a hobby in my childhood and teen years, into an essential aspect of my self-care in the first decade of my social work career. I did a lot of crisis response work in high stress and often high trauma circumstances and journaling helped me process the difficult emotions inherent to the nature of this type of work. I credit my journaling practice for helping me prevent burnout in a profession where such can be prevalent.
With my first hand experience of using journaling for self-care as a social worker and a growing passion years ago for burnout prevention and care for caregivers, I started teaching other helping and healthcare professionals how to use writing for their own wellness and resilience. This led me to start a business called Creative Wellness, where for many years I taught courses on topics of this nature both in person, online and as an instructor with two Canadian Universities.
I also taught on many other subjects more broadly through my other business Thrive Training and Coaching, specializing in topics related to burnout prevention, vicarious trauma, change management, stress management, workplace wellness and more. While things broadened, I kept including journaling as something I taught or at least always mentioned in every course I offered.
As I look back, I can see how journaling evolved from a childhood hobby, to a key self-care practice and then become significant to my work in the world. So often at the heart of entrepreneurial ventures, especially for coaches, helpers, healers, authors and change agents, is a desire to make a difference helping others with tools and experiences that have helped ourselves. This is true for me in terms of sharing my passion for the healing power of writing.
Ways to Teach & Share Your Passion for Journaling (if you wish to)
There are many ways I have shared my knowledge and first hand experience with the transformational nature of putting pen to paper, these include some of the following (I share these here for those who might be curious about how they might teach one of there passions, including journaling):
- Writing guest blog posts and articles
- Developing workbooks (Life Source Writing™: A Reflective Journaling Practice for Self-Discovery, Self-Care, Wellness & Creativity, 2009)
- Creating guided journaling tools (for example, Finding Joy Within Journaling Tool)
- Presenting as a guest on radio shows, podcasts and virtual summits
- Speaking at conferences
- Offering in-person workshops and retreats
- Developing online courses for client groups and universities (for example: Pen to Paper: Journaling for Social Worker Self-Care, Dalhouise University)
- Facilitating online virtual retreats (Renew You Writing Retreat)
- Creating a 6 week signature group coaching program (Transformational Writing for Wellness Salon)
- Leading a membership community for journal writers worldwide (International Association for Journal Writers)
- Hosting monthly guest interviews and telechats with experts in the journaling, expressive writing and healing arts field
- Facilitating monthly Writing Alone Together Circles with journal writers from around the world via Zoom
- Co-authoring a book (Writing Alone Together: Journalling in a Circle of Women for Creativity, Compassion & Connection, 2014)
- Currently co-editing a book with Eric Maisel, PhD called The Transformational Power of Journaling for Coaches & Clients: A Complete Guide to the Benefits of Personal Writing (to be published in 2021, Routledge)
Being a Teacher Means Always Being a Student
While I have been teaching, coaching, writing and speaking about the healing and personal growth benefits of journaling, I have also been an avid journal writer, writer and student of writing all of these years too. I have studied life writing, creative writing, journaling and memoir with many wonderful teachers including Christina Baldwin, Natalie Goldberg, Sharon Butala, Peter Levitt, Lorraine Gane, and many others. I have attended writing retreats and programs at the Banff School of the Arts, Alberta, Canada and Hollyhock Retreat Centre on Cortes Island, BC.
Following the Thread of Meaning & Purpose
I am immensely grateful that I have followed the thread of passion I have for all things related to journaling, writing, creativity, helping and healing. I am 50 years old now and hold great anticipation for the path ahead as I continue to invite and allow my passions and purposes to lead the way in my life, my family, my work and my business.
My next big project is completing a memoir I have had in progress, on and off, mostly off except for intense bursts of writing over the past twenty years. It’s working title is Surrender: An Adoptee’s Memoir.
Journaling and creative non-fiction writing, I have learned over the years, are among my life purposes. In this way, each day, I make sure to give time, attention and devotion to these pursuits. In the same way I give attention and devotion to my other life purposes; including my marriage, being a mother to our teen sons, loving my mother through her declining journey with Alzheimer’s disease, caring for myself in self-loving ways, engaging with nature and more.
Journaling Prompts for Exploring What Matters Most
The following journaling prompts are offered to invite you to consider your own journaling journey, your own life purposes and the threads that run throughout this life you are living:
What is something you have always had an abiding interest in?
How does that show up in your life today?
What has your experience with journaling been? What might you like it be?
What are your life purposes? How do you honour and tend to these in your daily life?
What is a thread, something consistent, that has woven through your life so far?
May we all live well and live fully with journaling as a tool that helps us stay connected to what matters most!
Author bio: Lynda Monk, MSW, RSW, CPCC is the Director of the International Association for Journal Writing http://iajw.org. As a Registered Social Worker and Certified Professional Life Coach, Lynda has a passion for and speciality in therapeutic journaling for self-care, burnout prevention, wellness and creative self-expression. Lynda regularly teaches and speaks on the healing and transformational power of life writing.
She is the co-author of Writing Alone Together: Journalling in a Circle of Women for Creativity, Compassion and Connection, as well as co-author of the international bestseller Inspiration for a Woman’s Soul: Choosing Happiness. She is also the author of Life Source Writing: A Reflective Journaling Practice for Self-Discovery, Self-Care, Wellness and Creativity and producer of the Creative Wellness Guided Meditations CD.
Lynda lives with her family on Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada. You can click here to access your FREE Gift: 7 Servings of Journal Juice for inspiration on your own journal writing journey.
NOW ON SALE!