Journal Coaching Expert
Whether you are new to journal writing or it’s been a part of your life forever, keeping the process fresh is important. Journaling expert Lynda Monk, MSW, RSW, CPCC, is full of ideas to help you engage with your journaling practice in colorful ways. It’s a joy to welcome her to Journaling.com.
Lynda is the Director of the International Association for Journal Writing. A registered social worker and Certified Professional Life Coach, Lynda specializes in therapeutic journaling for self-care, burnout prevention, wellness, and creative self-expression, and she regularly 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.
To listen to our podcast interview with Lynda, click on the play button below. Or keep reading to see the written highlights from our talk.
Flexibility is Fundamental
When Lynda talks about her own journaling practice, a spirit of flexibility infuses her approach. As a mother to young teens, her free time is limited, but she says that journaling remains a priority in her life, and she always keeps her journal with her. A commute by ferry gives Lynda a stretch of time to freewrite. Waiting in parking lots for her children to finish afterschool activities, gifts Lynda more opportunities to jot down her thoughts onto paper.
Since time is limited, Lynda’s come to recognize the value in maximizing opportunities to write. This realization led her to a series of techniques to keep her writing practice fresh and inviting. These techniques/tips are gleaned from years of study. Lynda attended a memoir writing residency at Banff School of the Arts, and trained with many of the top leaders in expressive writing and therapeutic writing. These tips are light and easy-to-do, but they are grounded in evidence-based practice and years of education and experience. It’s this experience and knowledge that makes Lynda one of the top experts in the journaling field.
An ongoing journaling practice is like any long term relationship. When you show up to it again and again with enthusiasm and positivity, great things happen.Lynda Monk
Lynda’s Six Tips to Keep Journaling Fresh
In addition to being trained and educated in this field, Lynda is also a life-long journaler herself.
- Clarify your intentions. Lynda recommends regularly checking in with yourself to identify what motivates you to journal. Gaining this insight keeps journaling fresh because it helps you constantly rediscover the “whys” you want answers to.
- Cultivate curiosity. Arrive at each writing session with wonder and an eagerness to make new discoveries. Approach your journal with wide-open eyes and engage with questions that have risen to the surface. New questions foster new awareness that we can follow up on with a plan for action.
- Honor the questions in your heart. In life, the big question marks we encounter point us in the directions we most need to contemplate. When we honor this need, we tap into fresh material to help us cultivate inner wisdom.
- Affirm the contributions journaling makes to your life. Just like brushing your teeth or taking a shower, journaling may be an essential component of your self-care routine. When we acknowledge the ways journaling makes us a better parent, partner, son or daughter, we don’t have to struggle to justify fitting this mindfulness act into our schedules.
- Journal with other people. Writing Alone Together, a book Lynda co-authored with friends Wendy Cutler and Ahava Shira, was born from their shared experiences in a journaling club. For three years, the trio met monthly to share space and writing. Through that experience, Lynda’s appreciation for the power of storytelling and community was reinforced. Together the friends cultivated a space for active quiet listening.
- Journal in a variety of settings. New surroundings provide a fresh outlook and shift in our perspective. There’s no right or wrong location. Visit a park or forest. Sit on the earth or a comfy couch. Write down your thoughts in a coffee shop or from your deck. The ways that we connect with our environment will be reflected in how we engage with our journals.
Other Tips and Techniques
Lynda recommends that we adapt techniques used in other forms of writing.
- Journal with dialogue. If faced with a difficult choice between two possibilities, give each option a voice. Engage both sides in dialogue on the pages of your journal.
- Develop characters. If you were to put a face and personality on your anxiety, joy, or grief, what would that look like? Who would that person be?
Lynda notes, “Journaling is an act of storytelling. Journalers are storytellers who capture moments, insights, and inner workings as each merges onto the pages of their journal.”
Your Action Plan
- Discover more about Lynda’s work. Visit her online at Creative Wellness – and learn about the work she does supporting healthcare professionals with Thrive Training and Coaching
- Explore IAJW’s website and consider becoming a member of this vibrant community.
Read Lynda’s book Writing Alone Together
- Listen to our podcast interview with Lynda.
- Invigorate your writing life. Give Lynda’s six suggestions a try this week.
Lynda wisely equates an ongoing journaling practice with any long term relationship. She reminds us that when we show up to journal again and again with enthusiasm, great things happen. Greeting each writing session with an attitude of positivity keeps our writing fresh and meaningful.