free the pen, a blog for writers

July 19, 2014

Journaling and Writing are Soul Mates

Filed under: writing techniques — freethepen @ 12:58 pm

Journaling and Writing are Soul Mates

by Mari L. McCarthy

I am a journal writing therapist. I believe passionately in the power of daily pen-to-the-page journaling to heal, grow, and become the person we were meant to be.  But the practice of journal writing provides more than therapy. One of the wonderful benefits of a regular journaling practice is improvement in your writing skill.  When you play a musical instrument, you practice playing scales. Journal writing is like playing scales for other kinds of writing. Like a beloved soul mate, journaling improves, encourages, and adores your “real-world” endeavors of all kinds.  Just playing with the tools, the words, the composition of thoughts and stories is the kind of practice journaling allows. You’re not required to be entertaining; you need not be an accomplished writer in your journal. All you want to do is express, tell the story, unload the heartache, voice the joy. There’s no objective, apart from completing your daily entry.

Journaling is you speaking to you, which is a nicely safe space. But it’s actually not speaking at all – it’s writing, and that involves words and paper and pen and that magical transformation that happens with any clear articulation. As soon as you can describe, tell, communicate any message or story, you free it to live and transcend and grow. So how exactly does this intimate everyday ritual of journaling relate to you as a writer of published works? Journaling is all very well, but those handwritten notebooks live comfortably on the shelf. Your published work, on the other hand, is out there for all the world to see. What’s the connection between them?

Well, there are many answers to that question. Here are just a few:

  1. Journaling is a writing habit you practice regularly, so it is naturally very likely to improve your ability to write with ease.
  2. Journaling that is pen-to-page involves neuromuscular development and coordination of body and mind. In our digital age, there’s little opportunity to exercise the hand’s creativity, but when we do practice working with the hands, we notice many benefits.
  3. Journaling is introspective and invites free expression, helping to loosen up your access to honest, raw emotions.
  4. Journaling shows us better who we are and this knowing makes our published work more honest.
  5. Journaling helps us find solutions to problems, and we can use the same process in our writing that is meant for an audience. Read over the stories you have told, the knots that have unraveled (or not!) in your journal, and mimic their progress in the writing you do for publication.

A musician does scales. A painter sketches constantly. An entrepreneur dabbles in initiatives; a politician talks and talks some more. Every passion has its practice soul mate.

  • Are you a beginning writer? Then journal to discover your unique voice and the stories that you feel compelled to tell.
  • Are you an intermediate writer? Then journal to deepen your effect.
  • Are you an advanced writer? Then journal to keep yourself honest!

A writer journals because the business of writing is writing; and journal writing is the most efficient and effective way to hone that skill every day!


Mari L. McCarthy is The Journaling Therapy Specialist, founder of Create Write Now (, the Transform Your Life Journaling Place. She offers counseling and encouragement to journal writers through her many online Journaling for the Self of It TM resources, as well as private consultations. Mari’s the community manager on the CreateWriteNow Facebook page and she often leads online journaling challenges. Mari lives in Boston where she raises roses and consciousness.

Thank you Mari for this fabulous article and I encourage all my readers to check out Mari’s blog and sign up for her newsletter. You won’t be sorry.

As always, keep the pen moving,




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