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On Journaling

By Rachel Ballon

Journal writing is a wonderful way to know yourself and to discover exciting ideas inside you. There are many ways to apply journal writing. As a script consultant and as a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in Los Angeles, I have used journal writing with hundreds of writers and non-writers alike with amazing results. Journal writing is a healing tool that is cost-effective and helps people in times of stress, crisis and recovery. All you need to begin the journal writing process is a pen and paper. It doesn't matter whether you're writing a personal journal or using a journal for your writing career because what you'll discover when you start your journal writing is that you're benefiting from it both personally and professionally.

The Writer's Journal should be used to write down notes, ideas or thoughts for present and future projects. You can divide your writer's journal into sections such as dialogue, characters, settings, conflict, themes and relationships. Your journal should be with you wherever you go, and when you overhear an exciting conversation in the bank, beauty parlor or standing in line, you can record it. When I conduct Personal Journal writing workshops, I tell individuals to have their journals with them at all times. You don't have to go out and buy a large, expensive journal because you'll probably never take it with you -- or have it when you need it. I suggest using a small notebook which can fit into a pocket or pocketbook, where it'll be easily accessible to you at all times.

The rule in all my journal-writing workshops is that there are NO rules. When you write in your journal, don't be concerned with punctuation, grammar and spelling, and above all don't EDIT your writing. Just write as fast as you can without interruption, and let your thoughts flow. Be in the writing process rather than into the results. Keep your pen moving, and you'll be amazed at the energy in your writing -- and at the ideas that bubble up from the inside out. As a writer, you are honing your people skills by becoming aware of behavior and human nature. When you observe an interesting character, notice the quirks or idiosyncrasies he or she has and note them in your journal. This is a wonderful way to help you become a more conscious observer of people, situations and relationships. Journal writing awakens you to the wellspring of your creativity, where all your hopes, dreams, emotions and memories reside. By connecting with this fertile place inside yourself, you'll become more creative, develop original ideas and be a deeper writer who writes from the heart. Most of all, by writing in your journal, you'll be more aware that writing is not the actual act of putting words onto the page, but is a full-time process of germinating ideas, concepts, characters and plots that eventually lead to a resolution.

The Personal Journal is for anyone interested in self-exploration, self-empowerment and personal growth. By writing in this journal whenever you want, it will soon become your best friend and your most trustworthy companion. By getting you in touch with learning what's really important in your life, journal writing will help you in your career, relationships and family. When you keep a journal, it's a good idea to get in the habit of writing in it daily -- even if you write just a sentence -- so that you'll be consistent and achieve continuity. By writing about your thoughts, feelings, attitudes, actions and activities, you'll discover how to deal with people in an effective manner and also find resolutions to problems -- just like the hero in a script.

Writing in your personal journal is a superb method for self-exploration and self-discovery, helping you develop clarity and focus and discover what's important to you in your work and relationships. Since your feelings are the real barometer of who you truly are, writing about them allows you to monitor yourself and connects you to the real you.

Journal writing benefits not only you, but your writing as well, and it can be a source of personal stories. Your pen and paper will take you on the journey to dig beneath your mask and discover your powerful creative self. These are the tools you need to give you a direct path to reach your dreams and write/right your life to a 'Happy Ending.'

Meet the Author: Rachel Ballon

Rachel Ballon, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist and the founder and director of The Writer's Center in Los Angeles. The author of two critically acclaimed books, Dr. Ballon has reviewed hundreds of scripts for major Hollywood studios, including United Paramount Network, Saban Entertainment, and Fox Kids. A master teacher and noted success coach, Dr. Ballon has taught as an adjunct professor at USC School of Cinema and Television.