In my last blog entry I wrote about how to get started with journaling. I thought I would follow that up by sharing with you some of the books that I have found helpful when writing my own journal.
The New Diary by Tristine Rainer
This is the first book that I ever read on journaling and it is still one of my favorites. The New Diary begins by discussing the benefits of writing a journal before moving on to the basics, such as whether to keep your journal private and to encouraging you to let go of the usual rules of spelling & grammar. The New Diary contains different ideas on how you can write your journal. For example, writing unsent letters, writing a self portrait or using lists. Tristine then uses diary excerpts to demonstrate the ideas that she is suggesting. This meant that I was then able to see how I could apply these methods in my own journal. These excerpts also bring the book to life and make it so readable. The New Diary includes information for working with dreams, which is great as I often find that a lot of books seem to either omit this area or skim over it very quickly. I believe that dreams can be a great source of information and they can be really helpful in increasing our awareness of ourselves and the situations that we may be encountering. The New Diary also has a section on how to overcome writing blocks, which again is a subject that a lot of other books seem to neglect. The one thing this book does lack though is a list of suggested journal prompts. Journal prompts can be really helpful for reflecting on subjects or ideas that you might not have considered before. Journal prompts are also useful for getting started if you are not sure what to write about. I feel this would have been a great addition to the book. However, overall I really love this book and it provided me with a lot of guidance when I first started journaling.
The Ultimate Guide to Journaling by Hannah Braime
This is a very thin book but it is packed with ideas. Some ideas include keeping a gratitude diary, drawing your mood and using free association. The sections are very short and there are no journal excerpts like with the New Diary. Unlike the New Diary this book also contains journal prompts and lists on things that you could reflect on. Some of the prompt examples include ‘When I think of the future I think about...’ and ‘A dialogue with my body about my self-image’. I think my preference would be to start with The New Diary then read this one to gain some additional ideas. However, if you are raring to get journaling and you don’t want to spend a lot of time reading about it then this might be the book for you.
Journal to the Self by Kathleen Adams
This book is thicker and more detailed than ‘The Ultimate Guide to Journaling’. Journal to the Self is broken into 22 short chapters and includes information on how to get started, methods for journaling, along with suggestions on what to write about. Although some of the ideas are similar to those in ‘The New Diary’ it contains additional ones, such as using cluster diagrams, inner wisdom dialogues and meditation, to name a few. Although The New Diary and Journal to the Self have some overlapping concepts they both offer different things. I found the New Diary much easier to read, whereas Journal to the Self is packed with ideas but I found it to be more of a book to pick up and put down again. The New Diary spent more time talking about the concepts of different ways of writing and reflections on the diary excerpts. In fact the writer of the The New diary writes about journaling in a very reflective manor, modeling very much the idea of how to go about writing reflectively. Whereas Journal to the Self feels more like you are being instructed on how to journal as it provides more specific advice and writing prompts.
Start Where You Are by Meera Lee Patel
The books I have mentioned above are more instructional than this one. 'Start Where You Are' involves interacting with the book itself. The book acts as a prompt by giving you suggestions on what to write or draw, whilst leaving you blank spaces for you to enter your responses. Some of the questions require factual replies, whereas others are more reflective. The prompts may be concerned with thoughts, feelings, physical sensations or experiences. For example, ‘Go outside and focus on the clouds, trees or breeze. Close your eyes and lift yourself out of your own feet. Let your thoughts wander on their own. How do you feel? Write about it here’, ‘Write down ten big dreams that haven't come true yet.’ and ‘There is always strength in the deepest of places. Draw the source of your strength here'.
I find this book can be fun but I have at times been surprised at the depth of reflection that has resulted from some of the prompts. This book would never replace my journal but it does make interesting writing and gives some ideas for reflection that I might not have considered otherwise.
I like to open this book at random and just tackle whatever is on that page, rather than working through it systematically. There are many hours worth or writing ideas in this book.
As well as 'Start Where You Are' being full of prompts it is also filled with colourful and inspirational quotes, such as, 'We become what we think about - Earl Nightingale', 'There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind - C.S. Lewis' and 'Only in the darkness can you see the stars - Martin Luther King Jr.'