Journaling Can Find You Better Jobs — And Other Benefits
What is art?
It is taking one’s deepest sorrows, the fears, frustrations and making it visible for the world to see — or bringing it alive to the world to see — letting it manifest in the physical world. For me writing is the art. It helps me manifest my deepest sorrows, fears into this tangible elements.
Once I let it out, my worries around is relieved.
Anne Frank says, “ I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”
Writing gives me that ability to make my sorrow disappear. Writing helps my courage to be reborn. You can shake off everything as you write. Writing can help you with that.I have written about ‘writing’ and of . What prompted me write another post on ‘writing’ is this.
“In a study led by University of Texas researcher James W. Pennebaker, a group of the jobless professionals got in touch with their feelings and wrote about it, diary style. 20 minutes. Writing. Emotions. Repeat. Daily.” Dr. Pennebaker wanted to test whether this emotional writing practice could reduce stress and help solve the problems these engineers were having?
In the group that got all up in their feelings and put them down on paper, more than 26% found a new job. More importantly this kind of writing, can not only help you find better jobs, Dr. Pennebaker concludes, it can improve your health, your happiness, your goals, your love life … everything!
This got me thinking. I am a real-life proof for Dr. Pennebaker’s research.
A Bit of History
“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.“ — William Wordsworth
It’s no wonder then journaling is a practice shared across many centuries by icons-not only writers like Virginia Woolf and Mark Twain, but also inventors from da Vinci to Edison, cultural icons such as Pablo Picasso, military leaders such as general George Patton, and political leaders from Washington to Jefferson to Franklin to Truman to Churchill. Along with preserving a record of their ideas and experiences, journaling might have helped them make sense of stressful experiences, focus on their goals, and achieve success. As Richard Branson, the Virgin mogul says, “my most essential possession is a standard-sized school notebook.”In language, God is accessible to all men, Ralph Waldo Emerson writes. Writing is medium through which one can talk to God. For me, language and writing is helps me access the deepest sub-conscious level of thinking through writing.
What Writing Means to Me
Writing is like unpacking. You slowly unpack the mysteries of life, your mind or living, using writing as a tool. But it is in this series of events, that sequence of times, that there is continuous thread of revelation. Go deep enough, there is bedrock of truth.
Writing will help you get in touch with the silence within yourself.
“Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose.” — Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
There is unknown silence in everyone’s inner self. It is within. For some, it is easily accessible. For some, it requires deliberate attempt at connecting. For more others, they don’t even realise the existence of that inner self. They live their life as it is. I belong to the second category of people. Though I realise there exists this inner self, its access to it has always been elusive. Writing helps me nurture that connection and get in touch within.
Ways of Writing
I started writing out of necessity rather than will.
Writing lists, more specifically to-do list was my first, though powerful attempt at writing anything at all. I started this list making, slowly added ‘project journaling’ as a way to plan, record my work and thoughts. I found this deeply catherizing and I started taking it more seriously.Sketching, Mapping, Journaling, Visualizing, Freewriting — were different names that got defined later to me.
Now after some serious journaling, I am realising it’s potential — for ideating, creating, personal optimisation, mental clarity, spiritual exploration and other things.
Most of the time, writing to generate a content is considered as a legitimate outcome. My concept is to flip the idea other way. What if writing as a process in itself an outcome — writing for writing sake.
Let me clarify. Here we are not writing to produce work of arts, instead we are writing as a process to heal ourselves, to think and to ideate. Let me be honest here. I am not going to make a writer out of you. I am going to see the value in writing as a tool to help yourself. And hopefully provide you with techniques in using this wonderful and remarkable to whatever purpose you could think of.
I am currently working on different writing styles:
- Write like freeflowing
- Write like a conversation between your future self and present self (from Mark Forster’s Dreams book)
- Write like a conversation with a friend to who you are explaining yourself to. It will be better if the friend of yours is similar to you, age, demography, thinking process (from Pat Flynn’s Ebook the Smart Way)
- Let me see how it could happen.
- More so, using writing as a thinking tool.
- Writing to bring clarity in head
- Use writing to generate ideas. Now reading about Mark Levy and others as — using Writing as Thinking
You can read more about 10 different writing styles collated by fellow blogger James Grieg here.
How to Start?
Buster Benson runs this site called 750words.com. It was inspired by the concept of morning pages as described in Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way. He cites the basic rules of free writing that were written by Natalie Goldberg.
Give yourself a word limit. Write for 1, 2, or 3 pages, and then stop.
Keep writing until the time is up. Do not pause to stare into space or to read what you’ve written. Write quickly but not in a hurry.
Pay no attention to grammar, spelling, punctuation, neatness, or style. Nobody else should ever read what you produce here. The correctness and quality of what you write do not matter; the act of writing does.
If you get off the topic or run out of ideas, keep writing anyway. If necessary, write nonsense or whatever comes into your head: anything to keep the words flowing.
If you feel bored or uncomfortable as you’re writing, ask yourself what’s bothering you and write about that.
Benefits of Writing
From Dr. Diary, aka James W. Pennebaker:
“When people are given the opportunity to write about emotional upheavals, they often experience improved health. … They go to the doctor less. They have changes in immune function. If they are first-year college students, their grades tend to go up. People will tell us months afterward that it’s been a very beneficial experience for them.”
For Physical Health
Writing can help you with your immunity.
Ever heard of T lymphocytes? Me neither, until I learned that regular journaling can strengthen these important immune cells. More research, chronicled at PsychCentral, also shows that journaling can reduce symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
Writing heals wounds. Yes, really. In a study in New Zealand, 72% of a group who’d done expressive writing after a biopsy were fully healed, versus 42% of a group who’d done no writing. Researchers think the writing may have led to better sleep and reduced stress, and therefore … heal-ier wounds!
For Mental Health
I actually of the opinion that every human being is a treasure house of wisdom and recommend everyone writing a memoir of their lives. Emotional writing can heal mental and emotional wounds … after about two weeks.
The research says. Initially, it would be difficult for you to write about your most worrisome incidents, your emotional upheavals. Write especially about the bad ones, rather than good ones. It would be difficult. But once you build a momentum, not only worries, but the emotional things. it’s like talking to your own personal counsellor. The answers usually tend to follow along with your worries. This innate wisdom that each one of us possess will respond to your deep questions with ease. Be ready to listen or write it down as it flows. And that is where most of my contents for writing comes too.
Autobiography is the best advice. I make content out of such writing from my own personal lives and convert it to message for my readers. May be that is the reason why most of my readers find a personal connect to what I write about — it is so personal to me and at the same time so universal.I know I’ve been cheerleading for emotional journaling, but know this: the first two weeks will be rough. In one study, during the beginning of emotional writing, subjects got more depressed, and some of their blood pressures even increased!
Writing about trauma is uncomfortable in the short run, but after a brief period of time, the costs can disappear and the benefits emerge ― and they; one participant admitted, “Although I have not talked with anyone about what I wrote, I was finally able to deal with it, work through the pain instead of trying to block it out. Now it doesn’t hurt to think about it.”
Writing to Solve Problems
“You can use your internal dialogue to throw open problems and brainstorm (or brain-write) ideas,” suggests Oliver Burkeman.
Writing could be an incredibly powerful technique for solving problems. It just involves simply writing it down. “It seems rather simple, but it can often allow you to solve problems you previously thought were impossible.” — says Scott Young.
“Writing for me is thinking through my fingers.” — Issac Asimov
An interesting tidbit on this from the study of the laid off engineer story at the very beginning of this article:”Interestingly, expressive writing didn’t land the engineers any more interviews. It just increased the odds that they were hired when they did have an interview. “
And it added…”The benefits of expressive writing aren’t limited to negative events. Research by Laura King shows that writing about achieving future goals and dreams can make people happier and healthier. Similarly, there’s plenty of evidence that keeping a gratitude journal can increase happiness and health by making the good things in life more salient. And Jane Dutton and I found that when people doing stressful fundraising jobs kept a journal for a few days about how their work made a difference, they increased their hourly effort by 29% over the next two weeks.”So there is quite a lot of evidence on other benefits of writing.
“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” — Anaïs Nin
I believe that we all have an internal wise mentor who is always available to help us through difficult situations — both personal and professional. I strongly believe that you could access this ‘internal mentor’ through writing. Buster Bensen of 750words goes even further saying that writing is better than meditation. Though I don’t completely agree with him, but I hope I made a case for Journaling.
Start writing. Today.
I have been writing seriously these days. More so I have been writing on writing. But there is a quite an amount of practical value in writing. Of course it is an introverted, almost unnatural and nerdy exercise — it is even slow. ‘Writing is living life twice!’Writing-Thinking-Discovery process — a fantastic analogy for the Freewriting process that I am Exploring with Peter Elbow.
Writing as Healing
There is a stream thoughts is modern psychotherapy to use writing to heal — to heal the past, present and future. Graphic designer and writer James Greig talks about getting the gung out as a method of free your mind, of emotions, seeing the emotions write on paper relieves a lot from our head. There are even those who suggest to write a negative feeling on a piece of paper and tearing it up. I personally liked how Julian Cameroon talks of ‘morning writing’ — to use writing (especially during morning or any time of the day) to help one feel empty of feelings that may disturb us or cause anxiety. Morning Writing is a tool suggested by Julian Cameron which seems to be a fantastic way to help me develop and grow. Morning Writing routine. It is my external brain. Pour whatever you have on to this. Let me see how to deal with Vish — he is the easiest you know, so relax. Let life unfold itself to its beauty. the art of writing and finding yourself; leverage more such learning from their active free writing exercise that could help us gain deeper insight on what could be done.
Writing as Thinking
It is interesting that this idea of using writing as thinking has actually been so popularized. It has been only the tool of an elite set of people. Even while Intel founder talks about writing as a reflection on clarity of thinking and Jeff Bezos talk about using ‘writing it down’ — the famous 6 page narrative memo as key for writing. This has actually not been widely used or popular. Reflecting upon my own work, I don’t seem to extend the process of using writing in my wider professional application, though I use it extensively in my personal reflection. I hope that this will help people to actually see the potential use of writing as thinking. In business project management, there is the concept of putting everything on table. That is this one idea. Writing it out or doing a brain dump is about using writing as thinking. Similar to this there is this idea of brain writing — to use team group thinking. It is used as an introvert’s escapade or counter-argument to ‘brainstorming’. That is when brain writing is also then I should be done. Pouring out everything from my mind onto the paper, onto the laptop for thinking. I think this free writing us going to help me in a big way. Hope I will be able to harness this. I kindly request people to use writing as a thinking tool. Try freewriting and let your thoughts out. It could be a good way. How is it helping me? It is helping me by being genuine with myself. Sometimes I talk to myself that is how I get best of my advises from.Learning to view writing as “thinking on paper”, to use a phrase coined by philosopher V.A. Howard, philosopher V.A. Howard — he argues, we should emphasize that “the primary goal of writing, like reading, is to understand and then make that understanding available to others in writing…the first use of writing is to think with-to articulate ideas” [or to make one’s meaning] through language as a learning tool and only later to “communicate them” (Howard 1990, 84). For me, writing seems to be a tool for thinking than anything else. For me that is more valuable than anything else. A process to think — to bring clarity to derive ideas. And who can blame the most important aspect of it — learning to type.
Writing as Ideating
This is why I first started writing — to get ideas, to get inspiration to work, to somehow catch fleeting thoughts that may someday be useful. As most of us aspire, I want to get ideas that will make me super-rich or super-famous. I should definitely mention the inspiration I derived from Mark Levy and his remarkable yet easily understandable concept of ‘Accidental Genius’. I must say it was a turning point. He simply let his secret out when he talks about using ‘freewriting’ as idea generation tool. I must confess it is from then onwards that my writing kick started. 10 ideas everyday trick from James Altucher. Writing as idea machine tool — 10 ideas or 100 different ways by James Altucher and LiteMind.Writing about where they’ve been and what they’ve done might lead you into a place you couldn’t expect. Writing could be a window for me for creativity. I should be leveraging this to generate various ideas to get me thinking and explore options.Ideas are like rabbits. You just have a couple of them and you will make loads of them. There is substantially realm of world in our sub-conscious level we can tap into. One way of doing is accessing the brain writing process which is really helping in the entire gamut. Creativity is just a pedestal away. Let me see if i can use free-writing as a tool to write quickly successfully and do it as a meditation.Tap into the sub-conscious realm using free writingI think intuition is also like that writing. You write and write and write and suddenly you are producing fantastic materials that this world has ever seen.
Says Kate: “If you write everyday, every so often some inspirational things are going to show up.”
As Mark says, when you write, “Don’t expect lightning bolts,” just get words down on paper. Write regularly — good, bad or otherwise — and it will start to pay off. Writing jokes like ’70 jokes a day’ — punchline for News Headlines. The story of Senfield writing a joke a day and marking a red ‘X’ on his calendar is legendary (google ‘Senfield’s Don’t Break the Chain Productivity System’).
And a Few More Reasons
Ray Bradbury says, “In quickness there is truth”
Letting writing happen
Participants in the ‘Write Around Portland’ sit around in circle with a pen and pad. A facilitator begins the session by offering a couple of prompts. The participants are usually “people living with HIV/AIDS, veterans, survivors of domestic violence, adults and youth in addiction recovery, low income seniors, people in prison, homeless youth and others.” The central idea is using writing for opening up thinking and eventually healing…I never imagined that writing could be such a liberating experience. I feel connected to my heart. When writing, I seem to have touched the fabric of my soul. I could feel an implosion of emotion, of my entire spirit straight to the centre of its gravity.I am thinking of the remarkable lives and power of writing. In fact reading my own writing, I come to guess that may be it is my calling to use the power of writing for a greater good. I am not sure how far I will be successful at it. But my recent ventures into writing seem to give me confidence in pursuing it.
I remember reading about Ralph Waldo Emerson’s life story. On how he started to collate the essential thoughts while he let himself write in the early morning hours. He wrote and wrote and kept on writing. The distillations of such writings became his famous ‘Emerson’s Essays’. The best of my favourite quotes are from http://Emerson.My earlier writings also seem to have come through me in an astonishing way. I took immense pleasure reading my own writing. In fact I surprised myself on how I was able to create such wonderful piece of art.
What Writing is?
Writing is communicating your thoughts. Like any other skills, it could be learnt and improved. One’s ability to communicate one’s thoughts and ideas in words, can make or break the game.
Writing for healing, Writing for myself!
Writing is a means of psycho-therapy. It brought me sanity. It kept me ticking and alive. And I just write whatever comes to my mind.Writing for me has been helpful. Recently I have experimenting with the idea of Free Writing. Thanks to Mark Levy for helping me discover it. It is a deceptively simple technique to learn and use. So far I have crossed 46 pages — 101 pages of original content in my Free Writing http://document.It is just my thought, poured on to paper. In fact this article is a by-product of my Free Writing in my document.And now I am going to give it a shot and share the secret I have been leveraging to the you. I am going to give you a case for writing.
Reasons why you could start writing
Writing does help. Great personalities write.Writing shows clarity of thinking
Writing helps organize the information received (writing summary, documenting interpretations, meditating on the passage)
Writing helps us avoid reading overload or information obesity.Writing gives us some break/ relaxation in thinking
Writing can make careersReading one’s writing helps us discover lot more about personality.
“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.” ~ Oscar Wilde
Emerson — thoughts emerge during writing — letting the sub-conscious mind come through writing
Content is currency; writing gives you that content or helps plant and cultivate content
Writing can kick start your thought leadership. To be an ideation expert. Why not try coming up 10 different ideas every day as James Altucher suggests. Saving time by not to remember.
Write a memoir, autobiographical, historical. For inspiration — Mediation by Marcus Aurelius, Gandhi’s My Experiment with Truth, Anne Frank’s Diary, others. These are all personal musings that later became philosophies, religions, political ideologies and historical documents.
But How to Write?
- Write simply
- Break all the grammar rules
- Write from a personal point of view — first person
- You can create bullets wherever and whenever you want to
- Write in plain English — I prefer not using ‘big’ words
- Litter your article with your personal opinions
- Feel free to be angry and joyful at the same time
- Do not write for publishing — write only for yourself
- Silence the internal editor. The best way to do is to do free writing
- Time yourself
- Write what you think
- Write like you talk
- Write as if you are writing a personal letter to a friend
- Write to me; though I receive 100s of emails, I do take time to read and reply to those mails.
- Share your learning, experience, perspective to your friends, neighbours, audiences
- Blogging is a good place to start.
- To start with check out Freewriting articles by Mark Levy of LevyInnovation.com
- From Brain Pickings — Learn the Daily Routines of Great Writers
- Gregory Ciotti of Sparring Mind writes about The Psychological benefit of Writing
- Learn how to bring out your inner ‘genius’ using Writing: Accidental Genius by Mark Levy
- Clear Writing Means Clear Thinking from Harvard Business Review
- Oliver Burkeman on How to Think About Writing
- Former McKinsey Consultant, Ameet Ranadive writes about how ‘ Writing Clarifies Thinking’
- Adam Grant’s article on ‘The Power of the Pen’ 9 Reasons Why Writing in a Journal Should be Your only New Year Resolution. The article that prompted to write this post.