On my recent vacation I set aside some time each day for something I love – writing in my journal. Although I still keep a journal, I’ve been spending a lot more time art journaling – playing with paint, cutting, pasting, and getting messy. So returning to the basics and staying simple with a black pen and white paper felt really good.

When I write in a journal, I do so without thinking. I place my pen to the blank page and just write. If I’m feeling stuck I’ll write about the day. “Today I did this…” I may ramble on a bit, but I always feel lighter and freer by getting the words, the thoughts, the feelings – out of my head and onto the page.

After journaling regularly for over 15 years, I see the healing powers and benefits that come from a consistent free-spirit writing practice. And what I mean by free-spirit writing is simply writing and writing and writing – not from a thinking place, but more from a feeling place. When I write, I allow myself to clear up space in my mind. I allow myself the freedom to speak from my heart. The more I write, the more I can do so without thinking about it. The more I practice and stay with it, the more I connect to a place where my heart knows the answers.

And it’s in this heart-centered writing place that I learn the most about myself. Going back through my writings, I’ve discovered the cycles I can’t seem to brake. I am reminded of my dreams, my deep aspirations, and my secret wishes. By simply seeing my truth on the page, I awake to my personal strength, I gain more clarity, and I can walk forward from an authentic place, with a greater sense of confidence and wisdom. No matter what, I always feel better after writing.

If you are curious about journaling and would like to give it a try (or return to it), here are a few tips that have worked for me:

Free-Spirit Writing

1) Use a favorite pen and journal
I find that if I have a favorite pen (one that’s fluid and allows me to write fast), and a journal that I love, I’m much more excited about writing in it. Take yourself to the office supply or art store and try out a variety of sample pens ’til you find the right one!

2) Set aside 5 minutes each day
You can find 5 minutes to wash your hair, brush your teeth, and eat a meal. (Most days, right?) So there has to be a way you can find 5 minutes to write in a journal, but you have to set aside that time for it. I find it really helpful to write at the same time each day (and of course I know that this may be impossible at times!) I try to make it a ritual to write with my morning coffee or tea. See what time works best for you.

3) Keep writing
No matter what – when you place that pen to the blank page – just write. Even if nothing comes out and your mind is telling you “I have nothing to say,” keep your pen moving. You can draw shapes, lines, spirals…whatever…but keep that pen moving until something, anything comes out. If you stay with it, over time you will surprise yourself.

4) Be yourself
Your journal doesn’t have to hold happy thoughts, sad thoughts or dark secrets. Your journal just IS. Let it be a place where you speak from your heart – speak your truth. Because for many of us, this is the only place where we can truly let go of our masks and be that brilliant, vibrant being that we really are. Doing this in a journal is a great first step towards living a more authentic life!

5) Protect it
Your authentic self will feel a lot safer knowing that your journal is a safe place to write. It’s for you, and you alone. So keep it in a place where you know others won’t read it.

6) Respect it
Show respect for your journal. Treat it like a good friend. Because that’s exactly what it is…a friend that holds no judgements, one that simply loves you and wants you to live a vibrant, happy life.

7) Have fun
Writing shouldn’t feel like a chore. Have fun with it! Write at your favorite coffee shop, write in the park, or write alongside your kids. When you feel ready to expand from the basic pen, check out the amazing art journaling magazines, books and websites out there to get inspired. (Including my creative adventure e-course!)

Your Personal Reflection: Do you ever feel like your mind is cluttered with thoughts, or your heart is cluttered with emotions? Give journaling a try and simply let yourself write, write, write.