I was a teen when I took my first creative writing class. The first priority on day one was to discuss keeping a journal. The first homework assignment was to get that journal quickly. There weren’t many parameters on that boundary. It was to be a journal that felt good to us. We would be writing daily. Our teacher referred to journal writing as sacred time. I didn’t give that phrase much thought at first, but I came to understand the concept very quickly. Journal writing is sacred time and sacred space. It is a daily practice for me—an experience that is about as non-optional as brushing my teeth or eating. It connects intimately with my prayer life. Sometimes my writing is calm and peaceful. Sometimes there is something urgent I just need to get something out. There are times when I relish the quiet presence of the pen and paper; other times I need desperately to write through a situation. The journal writing as a prayerful, sacred experience for whatever I need.
Sometimes, writing, like prayer, is hard for people to begin. How do I start the prayer? What do I say? How do I start with this blank piece of paper? What do I write? The honest answer is that you can begin absolutely anywhere. But I know for many, begin anywhere is about the least helpful thing to hear. So let’s start with just creating a safe, sacred space. Where are you quiet and calm and comfortable? Is there a particular room where you live that is your refuge? Do you have a favorite desk or comfortable chair? Sometimes my home office desk is perfect; other times I’m on the sofa with a lap desk/table. For many people, the kitchen or dining room table is the perfect place. Make sure you’re changed into your most comfortable clothes and get yourself a cup of coffee or tea or a bottle of water. Your journal is a good friend with whom you can relax completely.
If a particular writing focus doesn’t come to mind, one approach is to begin by describing the space. What items are around you? Do you connect any particular memories with anything in the room? Are there any items that are particularly special to you? Maybe there is something that is not expensive but extra sentimental. Maybe there is a special hand-made gift of some kind. Maybe something was particularly hard-earned or took great effort to obtain. Maybe an item comes from somewhere very special or exotic. Perhaps there is an extra funny story about how something came to be with you. Give your journal pages a detailed tour of the room!