“Curving back upon My own Nature, I create again and again . . . “
Journaling is a sustainable writing practice that has multiple benefits not only for the aspiring writer but also for the professional writer. Sustainability, a concept, normally applied to areas such as energy, agriculture, building construction, and more, is a useful concept for evaluating any practice, including writing.
Sustainability is variously defined by such characteristics as longevity, renewability, improvability, self-governing, economy, and wholeness. Each of these characteristics applied to writing augments the growth, maturity, and richness writers hope to achieve in their writing. Sustainability is a manifold process because these defining characteristics are interrelated and reinforce one another.
One good example of a sustainable characteristic essential to writing is improvability. Anyones who writes want to continue improving, whether it be to improve one’s style, one’s expression of ideas, or one’s creation of imagery. To have a chance of improving, a writer must continue to write–to try something again; hence, both renewability and longevity are implicit needs for the improvement of writing.
Journaling is infinitely renewable. Each day (or each session), a writer begins anew–with a new prompt, a new reflection, a new story idea, even a new ramble. The words flow again and the writer has an opportunity to reassemble them, to revisit ideas considered earlier but perhaps now in a new structure, always renewing–a lesson as old as time. “Curving back upon My own Nature, I create again and again—creation and administration of creation, both are a natural phenomenon on the basis of My self-referral consciousness.” Bhagavad-Gita 9.8 (1)
Such renewability leads naturally to longevity; when one is able to constantly renew one’s ideas as a writer, the act of writing can be sustained for a lifetime. Longevity becomes a natural outcome of renewability, especially since the extended practice does offer the promise of improvement.
In the context of renewability also reside the characteristics of being self-governing and economical. Journaling isn’t done for someone else. One journals to discovers one’s own words and thoughts, one’s own directions and reflections. This writing is done when and where it’s convenient for the writer–in a notebook, on a laptop, at home, in a coffee shop, wherever. Such writing simply depends on intention and recognizing the opportunity. Another aspect of being self-governing when journaling is that one can take off and put on the critic’s hat whenever one feels inclines. The journal does not require polished, correct writing; it merely offers an avenue for the words to flow onto.
Built within this self-governing activity is a natural economy of time, effort, and application. One isn’t sitting down to write the great American novel, nor is one sitting down to pound out that essay due in class tomorrow . One simply writes whatever ideas float up from the mind. The intention is only to write for ten minutes, which leave 23 hours and 50 minutes to fill with other activities. One can write longer, but “have-to” is not involved.
What then is the result of this renewable, long-lived, self-governing, and economic activity of journal writing? The result is wholeness–the act of creation engendered over and over again. The writer becomes used to the flow of ideas welling up from the mind on a regular basis. Thoughts that one can shape and structure are infinite in number and all that is needed is the outlet. The journal becomes a way to open the faucet of one’s own infinite flow of ideas in a sustainable manner.
(1) See earlier discussions of the self-referral dynamics of the mind in site archives.
Image: Courtesy of Mandi Bradshaw