Journal Tour: Sam Mansfield
Journal writing is different for everyone. The beauty of being a journal keeper is that you can make your journal practice whatever you want it to be! Each month I will take you on a Journal Tour of a different journal keeper and their journal practice. These tours inspire me and my hope is they'll get you excited about your journal. Want to share your journal practice? Submit here. September Journal Tour: Sam Mansfield of Attic Whispers. I may be a bit biased here because Sam is my mom. She bought me my very first journal when I was 14. For as long as I can remember my mom has kept a journal. Some were for writing, some for letters, some for art keeping and mementos, and even her travel sketches.
Since my mom is the reason I started journal writing, who better to have as my first Journal Tour? Enjoy this tour through her journal keeping. Thanks mom!
1. When did you start journal writing? Why did you start?
My family moved around a lot when I was growing up. I met new friends and said good-bye to friends throughout my childhood. But the one true friend I kept with me was my diary. Back in the 1950s it was popular to be gifted a diary for Christmas or birthdays and I always had one sitting on my nightstand that I would write in every night before “lights out”. Every page would be dated including the name of the city we were living in at the time and headed with “Dear Dairy” – I was not a very good speller. To this day whenever I see the word dairy I think of my special book that was always with me, mine only and kept the monsters under the bed and my true feelings hidden inside under lock and key. That was my first journal but not my last.
My husband, all of my kids and I have always carried a small notebook either in a pocket or purse to jot down notes, keep ideas fresh, reminders to self and on-the-spot thoughts. I’ve kept travel journals for many, many years and being a scrapbooker I’ve journaled and doodled on my pages before the memory is lost or forgotten and only a photo is left for someone in the future to say “Who are these people and what are they doing?” And even though my diary is now a notebook, it’s still sitting on my nightstand. But, it wasn’t until I took a group Journal to the Self class that I learned how to organize my thoughts and feelings on to a page with prompts and guidance. My journaling became less scattered and more focused on one thing: ME. It opened me to ME. Instead of going round and round in my writing, seeking answers, I now had the tools to actually hear my words, get clarity and resolve my own problems all by myself with someone who really knew me: ME.
2. What kind of journal writing is your favorite? Ie. stream of consciousness, prompts, poetry, etc.
I keep a ‘cheat sheet’ clipped to my current journal of all the techniques at my fingertip to use for whatever I need to get started. And that’s the hardest part of journaling – getting started, it can be scary to put pen to paper and expect something profound to appear. What to write? When to write? How to write? The techniques of journaling has put all those worries to rest – now I just write, explore and discover: ME. Let go of punctuation, let go of grammar, let go of spelling, follow those run-on sentences and see where they take you, never lifting the pen, just writing. I always start with the 5-minute sprint: I date my page, write “Today” at the top, set the timer and write. Sometimes the top of the page is headed with “Yesterday” and I write. I love using ‘Captured Moments’ and ‘Dialogue’ – I usually use those prompts to address a feeling I have, a moment that keeps circling in my head or rewriting a conversation when I “wish I had said ….” . And my ‘go-to’ prompt is always ‘Springboard’. I love picking a song title, a book title or a TV or movie title and springboard my writing off those words. It always amazes me how much I learn and resolve and the freedom and joy journaling brings me by just writing when the writing is focused on just ME.
3. What are your 3 top tips for keeping a journal or for getting started?
Give yourself the gift of a new journal. There are hundreds of journals just waiting to become your best friend. You’ll know it when you find it. Buy it or make it and then find it’s companion - a favorite pen. You know which one: the thin or thick stream of ink on paper, the fat or skinny barrel to hold, and the color that you always gravitate to. Then carving just five minutes out of your day to be with yourself and your journal.
Give yourself just five minutes! “Five minutes?” I hear ya – life is busy. But that’s only five out of 1,440 minutes in a day. You’re worth five minutes or ten or twenty. When I learned these journaling techniques and was out of a group and on my own -- I panicked. I won’t be disciplined to write. I won’t take the time to write. I won’t continue to write. How wrong I was. I had seen the results I accomplished in a group setting and knew whole-heartily how effect journaling is but to do it on my own -- whew, that took guts, gumption and a strong desire to give myself what I really wanted to do – I just wasn’t sure how to start without being told: get ready, get set, go. It started for me with my relationship with my coffee maker. When I was drinking coffee and hanging around the kitchen waiting for the darn thing to hurry up and heat the water and then watching it slowly drip the elixir of my first cup of the day. My start of the day (or so I told myself). I soon realized I had my timed five minutes. The house was quiet, I was alone in the kitchen and I grabbed my journal, poured water into the coffee maker and added fresh coffee grounds and then hit “start” -- and wrote until the little red light lit up and a small ding was heard in the recesses of my mind that my coffee was ready and I took my pen off the journal page(s). I started making 6 cup, 8 cup and 10 cup pots of coffee just to get a little extra time to write trying to beat the coffee maker to complete a thought that had literally bubbled up from somewhere inside of ME. Another scenario I use is to allow myself one page to write. Only one page. Using one of the techniques I would only write what one page could hold. My bold penmanship became smaller and smaller, just to keep writing the thoughts that wanted to get out and be heard.
4. Leave us a favorite prompt or journal technique we can use in our journals.
Journal writing is a personal journey with yourself: to discover yourself, to actually hear yourself honestly and to acknowledge that YOU have the answers to your deepest questions. Your journal is never judgmental, will always agree with you, constantly right, it will make you laugh and understand your tears and is the best listening partner you will ever meet. Journal writing will become a daily routine that gives you the complete freedom to be with yourself and the joy of knowing just who you are from the inside out.
Your Journal Tour prompt:
Springboard (a question or statement as a jumping off place to start writing.) From the Beatles and Sgt. Pepper: WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS