By Guest Barbara J. Scott
I burned my journals. All of them. Too drastic? Not for me. Actually, it was a symbolic and healing experience that my past, with all its pain, regrets, anger, depression, worry, and sins would no longer control me. Plus, I didn’t want to pass on my struggles…or my rants…to the next generations of our family. Journaling is personal.
My actions made me wonder about women of the past. Did they journal? Did they write about riding in covered wagons or walking beside them from Missouri to Oregon while taking care of babies, cooking over an open fire, or losing loved ones to accidents, disease, or enemies? Did they live in fear and numb their feelings, or did they trust God with all their hearts?
Since relatively few pioneering women’s journals survive from that period compared to the number who made that long trek, I wonder if any of them burned their words, or maybe their ancestors threw their journals into the trash after their deaths.
I started to write down my thoughts long before returning to the Lord at the age of thirty-five. Even though I was a successful journalist and editor, I lived a checkered past. For instance, I met my husband Mike when we both worked at the international office of your basic California cult. No one thought our marriage would last, especially our families. Mike proposed to me thirteen days after we met, I said yes, and we’ll celebrate our forty-second anniversary on June 27. It’s been quite a journey.
I wrote down a lot of dreams during that period and analyzed them through a distorted lens. New Agers like me were called “winkies” by residents of Sedona, AZ, which is a mecca for those who believe in psychic abilities, aliens, magic powers, Mother Earth, and Sedona’s supposed power centers of energy. Can we say wacky? More than a decade after I became a Christian, I published my first novel, Sedona Storm, written with co-author Carrie Younce. I chose Sedona as the setting for the battles between angels and demons layered over the human story in which the characters engage in spiritual warfare. If you enjoyed This Present Darkness, you’ll love Sedona Storm.
My journaling took another turn when I submitted to God’s will for my life, but I was full of questions and looking for answers about why some people seem to have such easy lives and others like me seem to slog through the mud of life while carrying the banner of Jesus. Life wasn’t fair. I wrote long prayers. I wrote about my physical, mental, and emotional pain. Why did I suffer? Without the Lord’s love and grace and the love of my husband, I would not have made it this far. They believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.
During that period, I lived in the Psalms, and much of what I wrote resembled David’s laments, praises, and confessions. He wasn’t perfect, and neither was I. But I also wrote about other people, difficult relationships, and financial difficulties—a long litany of grievances. Journaling allowed me to release my emotions so that I could face another day.
For years, I allowed all that baggage to weigh me down. But no more. In some ways, burning my journals allowed me to enjoy my freedom in Christ.
So, what does journaling have to do with being a writer? Writing in a journal has numerous beneficial effects on your life, including your ability to write and speak. Google “benefits of journaling,” and you’ll be amazed at how many articles tout its advantages.
I clicked on the first link that Google returned—a Huffington Post blog entry. I have never read the Huffington Post, nor do I ascribe to the spiritual beliefs of the author, but if you’re considering buying a fresh, new, lined journal that is pleasing to the eye and touch, knowing the benefits of journaling can give you an incentive to write down your thoughts, even if you start with one sentence or a paragraph in the morning or at bedtime. Thai Nguyen is the author. The title of his post is “10 Surprising Benefits You’ll Get from Keeping a Journal.” I think they’re worth consideration.
- Stretching Your IQ—Who knew journaling could make you smarter?
- Evoking Mindfulness—Nguyen believes there is a connection between mindfulness and happiness. Doesn’t Scripture tell us in Philippians 4:8 to think on “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable…?”
- Achieving Goals—If you write down specific, achievable goals for your writing career, you are more likely to attain the desires of your heart.
- Emotional Intelligence—Journaling is a way to process your emotions and make sense of why you feel as you do. You can then use those emotions to breathe life into your characters.
- Boosting Memory and Comprehension—There is a correlation between your thoughts and your handwritten words. That’s why I decry schools that think it’s no longer necessary to teach cursive writing. Journaling by hand forces you to stretch your cognitive memory to put your thoughts into words. The hand and brain have a special relationship.
- Strengthen Your Self-Discipline—As any writer knows, placing your backside into a chair and writing takes discipline. You learn to write even when you don’t feel like writing. If you stick to a schedule, you will develop the habit of putting words on paper (or screen). I have a friend who spends one full day writing on her novel and then puts in at least twenty minutes per day on something related to writing, research for example, or writing a blog post. It’s amazing what she accomplishes in that amount of time! And yes, she has published multiple novels.
- Improve Communication Skills—Want to improve your speaking skills? Write. Journal. Nguyen cites a Stanford University report that says, “Writing has critical connections to speaking.”
- Healing—Psychiatrists and psychologists recommend writing down your thoughts, especially when you are unable to articulate your feelings. I found journaling to be a release valve for my emotions. Journaling can bring healing emotionally, psychologically, and even physically.
- Spark Your Creativity—And what writer doesn’t want to be more creative! Let your thoughts flow for a page or two in a journal before you work on your WIP. Much like starting an engine on a cold morning before you put your car into gear, when you place your fingers on the keyboard, your brain is already warmed up and ready to write.
- Self-Confidence—Writing about positive experiences, answers to prayer, or giving God thanks for the small and big things in your life can boost your self-confidence. Doesn’t Scripture tell us to fix our thoughts on Jesus (Hebrews 3:1)?
Do you journal, and if so, how has the act of writing down your thoughts affected your life?
Leave a comment today to be entered in the drawing to receive a free copy of my novel Dreams of My Heart in either paperback or e-book.
Barbara J. Scott
Barbara J. Scott, an inspirational author and editor, released her historical novel Dreams of My Heart, the first book in the Reluctant Brides series, on March 20, and the e-book will be available April 1. Currently, she is working on Love of My Heart, the second book of the series, published by Mountain Brook Ink, which is set to release in February 2019. Her contemporary novella with Gilead Publishing, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” that appears in Sleigh Bells Ring: Four Contemporary Romance Novellas, also is available on Amazon.com. Best-selling novels Sedona Storm and Secrets of the Gathering Darkness were written with co-author Carrie Younce and published by Thomas Nelson. Barbara and her husband Mike live in the Nashville area, where sweet tea is a food staple, with their two Chihuahuas, Riley and Sissy, both rescued from puppy mills. Reading, writing, and research are her passions.
4 Stars – Romantic Times
Can A Reluctant Bride and Her New Husband Fall in Love Despite Their Wounded Hearts?
Plucky Irish immigrant Kate O’Brien struggles to hang on to her brother’s homestead after his death in a suspicious cattle stampede. If she’s unable to pay off the loan that paid for her ticket to America, she will be forced to marry the banker’s rogue son, Rafe Hamilton. When Kate is attacked by a drunken gang, salvation comes in the form of a total stranger—Texas cattleman Buck McKean. He drives the men off her ranch and spends the night in her cabin to keep her safe. However, his act of kindness poses a profound threat to her reputation, and the two marry to prevent the impending consequences. Kate makes it clear to her new husband that because of the abuse she suffered at the hands of her stepfather, she’ll never allow another man to control her life. Left at the altar in Virginia City, Buck has made his own vow never to give his heart to another woman. When Kate asks Buck for the unthinkable, her choice endangers both their lives.
Can God mend their hearts and save their love?
“Take one feisty heroine, add a fine hero, dump them into an impossible situation, add plenty of twists and turns and you have a winner of a novel you can’t wait to share with your friends.”
—Lauraine Snelling, best-selling author of the Historical Red River (Blessing) series
“Oh my, an Irish marriage of convenience in the wilds of the West? Be still my heart! Fortunately, the heart never stills while immersed in this tender love story of a shotgun marriage gone a-right. This is a tale that sweeps you from heartbreak to hope with every turn of the page. Without question, Dreams of My Heart is a dream come true for lovers of historical romance.”
—Julie Lessman, award-winning author of Irish family sagas, including The Daughters of Boston, Heart of San Francisco, and Isle of Hope series.
“With her typical humor-laced warmth, Barbara Scott delights readers with a beautiful historical romance that melts the heart and makes one pine for the faith, strength and tenacity of the old West. A true five-star read from beginning to end.”
—Ruth Logan Herne, award-winning, bestselling author