Journaling for the Overwhelmed

Deadlines, obligations, appointments, soccer games, birthdays, holidays, vacations, problems, tasks, errands, and why oh WHY did the tooth fairy forget to visit little Mandy last night? You've run out of toilet paper, of all things, and there's a rampant stomach virus knocking down your co-workers like a logger felling trees. On the way to the convenience store where you know you'll pay twice the price for potty paper, your car sputters and laughs at you as the last drops of gasoline trickle through its innards, and your cell phone is dead. Yes, you forgot to charge it. Again. Glancing around at your surroundings, you notice in your field of vision a shimmery rainbow appears, and you know a migraine is on its way. Your meds are at home, both for the pain and the accompanying nausea. You don't really feel comfortable walking to a stranger's home in the daytime, let alone at 11pm, but you really have no choice. You stash your purse under the front seat, look around, and exit and lock the vehicle. Heading for the first house with a light on, you step in a hole, twisting your ankle and falling, of course, into a puddle of grimy road crud. Oh, and here's the migraine now. Nice. By the time you manage to limp your way to the above-mentioned house with a light on, you notice that it's totally dark there now, and the way your luck's running, ringing the doorbell could result in any number of horrid fates. You promise God that if He'll let you just survive this awful night, you will organize yourself - somehow.

Yes, you're having a bad day/night/life, you could say. In addition to some professional organizing help, you need a way to cope with everything whirling, unchecked, through your mind. You can't focus on anything long enough to complete even the simplest task and you probably feel completely out of control.

Take a breath, please. A long, slow breath. Let's relieve your mind of some clutter. It's not so hard once you get the hang of it, and I believe you'll find it pleasantly addictive.

Grab your favorite pen/pencil and an inexpensive notebook, perhaps a one-subject composition book. Don't go out and purchase a fancy-schmancy journal, because you'll feel obligated to write fancy-schmancy words. You may prefer to use your computer for this purpose and that's okay. Whatever your choice, have it at the ready especially when you first wake up in the morning (or if you're an insomniac, whenever you wake during the night is good, too). Here's what I want you to do, in this order.

Open eyes. Restroom stop if needed. Pick up pen/paper/laptop and make yourself comfortable. Start at the top of a blank page. Start writing. It doesn't matter what you write, just write. Don't wait to "really wake up" before you begin this. Just write whatever comes to your mind, keep the pen on the paper and don't stop. Don't re-read what you've already written and don't think about grammar or correct mistakes. No one but you is to see this. Let your pen/keyboard be your mind's nozzle for pouring out whatever finds its way to the front. You'll feel silly, probably. You may be blocking the process by thinking "I don't know what to write." Well, write THAT! Here's an example that may help free your thinking about this freewriting process.

Urf, mouth tastes like yuk. back itches, lotion, write what? don't know, something, so much to do today at office, what was it I needed to, oh yeah newspaper's on front porch I bet, too cold to get out of blankets, blah blah. There's a dog barking somewhere, oh, and a cat screeching. what to write now? Roger made me SO mad last night!!!! I could scream sometimes. need to get milk today. Recycling? think I'll find a nice sweater pattern for Mandy. :) Knitting, relaxing. Time for me, remember to do that soon. No one's awake but me, kinda nice. Peaceful. Ha, except Roger's snoring and that stupid dog still barking. Hmm...think I'll make a list of to-do's before everyone gets up. Need a shopping list, too. Hey the dog stopped. YES! Wonder why Mr. Smith was so grumpy yesterday? Eh, this pen's starting to glob ink, gross. Is that a cricket I hear? Might buy pansies for the flower bed out front, haven't done that in years. Mandy's birthday's coming up, American Girl doll? Really worried about the biopsy the doc wants to do next week. He says try not to worry, yeah right. What if it were his biopsy? Doctors make me nuts. It's not right to wait for tests, they should do them as soon as they suspect something. Wonder if they'd wait it if were them? Bet not. Angry. FURIOUS. Scared. Really scared. Please, God, let it be nothing.

So, as you can see, you'd just let words pour out of you. You can see I've underlined a few words or phrases. This is what I would do if something comes to mind that I need to do later. Rather than try to remember it, I would go ahead and scribble it down, quickly underline it, then keep on writing. You don't want to clutter your mind right now; you want to empty it as much as possible.

Really try to do this freewriting type of journaling every morning. If you only have 15 minutes, that's fine, but the longer you can write during a session, the more you will benefit. And seriously, do NOT read what you've written, even after you're finished. The only exception is to look for underlined words or phrases - your trigger to add those to a to-do or other list after your freewriting session is finished. You'll discover that the more you get down on paper (real or virtual), the more room your mind has to work on more important issues and problem-solving. Give it a try. It's quite the addictive process, and doing this sort of journaling first thing after waking will pull things from your subconscious before that self-critic gets much of a chance to close the information gate and block you. And keep that notebook/document somewhere that your family won't readily find it - they'll think you've gone off the deep end if they read it, won't they? But you'll know better and, more importantly, you will begin your day feeling more refreshed and alert. It's odd, true, but somehow it works.

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Comments 24 comments

yolanda yvette profile image

yolanda yvette 5 years ago

This sounds like something I will be able to benefit from. A few months ago I purchased some mini jounal/diary type notebooks from a friend and afterwards wondered what I'd do with them. I kept one at my bedside in the hopes that I'd figure out something to write in it. Just last week I stored it away with the other 2. I'm about to get it back out and put it on the table next to my bed, since I now have something that it'd be great for. This is an AWESOME hub. I'm grateful to you for writing it and I'm glad I found it. Thanks.


thebluestar profile image

thebluestar 5 years ago from Northern Ireland

Good. Someone else thinks like me. What, writers block, no problem.


Vickie Bovender profile image

Vickie Bovender 5 years ago from Southeastern US Author

Thank you, ladies!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

If only I had kept a journal or at least a diary, I could have chronicled a lifetime. Instead, I have only a very faulty memory to rely on.

Excellent advice to writers and also those who just want to have a reference on what they did on June 11, 1972.

Voted up and awesome.

We need more from you, Vickie! Much more.


Vickie Bovender profile image

Vickie Bovender 5 years ago from Southeastern US Author

Will, thank you so much. And it's never too late to begin, you know. Just do it!

Thanks again.


Sinea Pies profile image

Sinea Pies 5 years ago from Northeastern United States

Very nice hub. The first paragraphs sound like a scary day that I've lived in more than once! Ouch! Glad not EVERY day is like that. Welcome to the Hub community. I'm now a follower.


Vickie Bovender profile image

Vickie Bovender 5 years ago from Southeastern US Author

Sinea, hello! Sadly those types of days come around now and then. Thankfully, the paragraph above was fictional. Haha! Thank you for reading and commenting, I appreciate it. And thank you for following me! I just hope I can write something else to be read. :)

Take care~~


Sinea Pies profile image

Sinea Pies 5 years ago from Northeastern United States

Write about what you love! It'll be great.


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago

Nice hub with practical advice. My kids always kept journals when we go away on vacation. It is nice for them to look back and read about their experiences. Journaling is a great thing to do for all of us.


Vickie Bovender profile image

Vickie Bovender 5 years ago from Southeastern US Author

Thank you, "Toknow." It's nice to hear from you in response to my Hub.


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago

I hope you will keep writing more. It will be a pleasure to read them.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

Okay. I will try it. I have tried journaling for years unsuccessfully. Thanks for the inspiration.


Vickie Bovender profile image

Vickie Bovender 5 years ago from Southeastern US Author

Toknow, thank you. I'm trying! :)

Hyphen, just get an inexpensive one-subject notebook and write when you wake up in the morning, before you're awake enough to talk yourself out of it. Thank you for reading!


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 5 years ago from Asheville, NC

Excellent Hub - glad you are here.


Vickie Bovender profile image

Vickie Bovender 5 years ago from Southeastern US Author

Suzie, thank you! :)


cat on a soapbox profile image

cat on a soapbox 5 years ago from Los Angeles

Bravo, Vickie! I couldn't agree more. I have broken more than a few pencil points while expressing my frustrations over the years, but I've averted many a meltdown. Great advice.


Vickie Bovender profile image

Vickie Bovender 5 years ago from Southeastern US Author

Good (broken) points! Aren't you glad you HAVE that outlet? I bet those around you are glad you do!

Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I really appreciate it.


BorneoTattoo profile image

BorneoTattoo 5 years ago

Excellent hub! I have always felt the need for structure in my writing, but I find that this freewriting thing might just be a great idea for me to loosen myself up a bit and give myself a break. Who cares if it's babble? It's MY babble. voted up & awesome.


Vickie Bovender profile image

Vickie Bovender 5 years ago from Southeastern US Author

Freewriting is a wonderful creative tool, too, Borneo. Thank you so much for reading and commenting and voting and babbling! :)


pinkydoo profile image

pinkydoo 5 years ago from New York

I love this hub! Your "freewriting" was fantastic! "Thoughts whirling through your brain" yes..sometimes there are just TOO MANY, and you have to get them out of there and down on paper! I do that with "writing ideas". Sometimes just brainstorming, or freewriting like that is how I get the best ideas! Everyone should have a notebook just for....writing stuff; no particular stuff, just stuff! Great hub!


Vickie Bovender profile image

Vickie Bovender 5 years ago from Southeastern US Author

Hey there, Pinkydoo! Yes, freewriting is awesome for creative types. And the first-thing-in-the-morning type is best for that, too. You can go back days later a re-read something you've written and not even REMEMBER writing it. I can't tell you how many times I've read something and thought "wow, did 'I' really write that?!"

Thank you for reading and commenting!


Lisa Mae DeMasi 5 years ago

Oh my God, I love this hub Vickie. When I started writing my memoir two and a half years ago, I got stuck. I contacted a psychic and she told me to free write. It was so helpful. I have stopped writing ever since then. Great hub, thank you!


Vickie Bovender profile image

Vickie Bovender 5 years ago from Southeastern US Author

Hey there, Lisa Mae (love that southern name!). I'm glad you enjoyed my little hub; thanks so much for your comments. And hey, thanks for following me. I'm just sorry I haven't written much for you TO follow! :O) I think I'll pop over and see what you've penned.


Lisa Mae DeMasi 5 years ago

Quality not quantity! Your journaling hubs have really resonated with me. Looking forward to keep abreast of your new stuff. :)

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