Last year, Louise was at her wit's end because she was being pulled in too many directions. A full-time systems analyst, mother, wife, and self-styled “soccer mom,” Louise managed quite well until her boss handed her still more responsibility. “I just couldn't take it anymore,” she said. “I felt totally strung out. There was no way I was going to get everything done,” she explained.
Some psychologists encourage their clients to keep journals to supplement therapy. Career counselors often suggest job seekers write in journals to work out anger and despair over job loss and anxiety over career changes.
For comfort, Louise turned to her journal. It's a simple black marble notebook, the kind she used in elementary school. Louise has long kept a journal, “the one thing I do for myself,” she notes. In her journal, Louise was able to face her fear and come up with productive ways of dealing with it. “What is most important? What is least important?” she wrote. “How do I define success? What do I have to accomplish to feel good about myself?” She figured out a way to arrange her tasks, which ones had to be perfect and which ones could just be done. She also realized that she didn't have to do it all to have it all.
For many people, journals have become the equivalent of a trusted confident. Keeping a journal can help just about everyone to confront issues in their lives, resolve some of the “big” questions, and become better writers.
Professional writers have long known the value of journals. They're always searching for topics to explore and details to develop. Writers use journals as idea books to record what they read, heard, saw, or experienced. The nineteenth-century New England philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, for example, filled more than 10 volumes of journals.
Keeping a journal also helps you become an interactive reader. If you get into the habit of responding to an outside stimulus in writing, you'll be more likely to write when you have something important to say. This might take the form of a letter to the editor, a memo to a colleague, or an e-mail to a service organization, for example. This helps you become a leader in your community and on the job.
For this purpose, many writers carry a pocket-sized notebook and pen with them all the time. Try it; you'll like it!
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Well © 2000 by Laurie Rozakis, Ph.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.