times, scribes were devotees of the Word. They were the
bridges between worlds, charged with the sacred task of
painstakingly transcribing the Mysteries into a form
that could be referenced by holy men and women. Many
centuries later, our modern journals give us unlimited
access to the Mysteries of our souls. Through this
column, I hope to offer ways that we can approach our
own lives with the love and devotion of the scribes of
Journals to Go:
15 Ways to Write
for Under 15 Minutes Each
I gave up chocolate. I gave up expresso. I gave up
the Count (that naughty man) and his little house in Cap
Ferrat. My Waterman pen, however, is not negotiable. I
must have something thrilling with which to record my
--Waterman Pen Company advertisement
Ah yes, the boredom. It's easy enough to
find time for melancholy introspection when there's
nothing else to do. But what about those languid nights
of chocolate, conversation and expresso? What about the
times when that scoundrel, the Count, is whisking you
off to Cap Ferrat yet again? What about those times when
you don't have enough time to live your life,
much less record it?
Don't worry. You can keep your journal
in under 15 minutes at a whack without ever feeling
bored or boring. Here's how:
1. Keep a one-year diary. They come
in an attractive assortment of cover designs; many have
matching scrapbooks and photo albums. Because the format
restricts you to about 100 words, writing takes 10
minutes or less a day. And keeping your one-year diary
on the nightstand by your bed has a sort of Victorian
simplicity that is madly appealing.
2. In the evening, write one adjective
describing your day on your wall calendar. Then,
underneath it, write one adjective describing how you
want tomorrow to be. This takes about one minute and
becomes a fascinating exercise in creating your own
3. Best Thing/Worst Thing Springboards
are great. Repeated use of these Springboards will
give you a running commentary on the highlights and
blackouts of your life.
4. Pick a theme word for a week or a
month. Choose a juicy word like happiness,
loneliness, confusion, clarity, anger, passion or
change. Spend 5-15 minutes each time writing about how
you experienced the theme word.
5. Find a moment from your day to
capture in poetry or prose. The rainbow out your
office window, the elation when the home team won the
game, the luxury of a bubble bath. If you can't find a
moment to record, slow down a little. And start
expecting miracles. They might just show up.
6. Set the kitchen timer for 15 minutes.
Quit writing when it dings.
7. Write a description of a stranger --
the person across from you on the train, the little
blond kid in the bright red dress, someone you'll never
see again, someone you haven't met yet.
8. Jot down the one-liners of
philosophy, absurdity or spiritual revelation that
wander through your mind. Hugh Prather's Notes to
Myself is a (best-selling!) collection of just such
9. Write a list of "10 Things I
Want Off My List By Tomorrow." Keep this list
with you throughout the day and cross off items as you
10. Write a Win List of anything at all
that went right during the day. (Yes, there are days
when "getting out of bed" counts.) If you are
in recovery from any sort of addictive behavior, be sure
to list your recovery every single day as a win.
If you're not getting at least a dozen a day, look
11. Write your journal on 3x5 index
cards. File entries by subject or date in a recipe
12. Write a postcard. Send it to
yourself. The ultimate travel tip for journalers on the
go--write your daily log on the back of picture
13. "Flow write" for 10
minutes. Start anywhere, go where you please.
14. Thumb through an old magazine until
a picture "sings" to you. Clip the picture
and paste it in your journal. Write about it.
15. Write a prayer. Write a letter
to God, your Higher Self, Jesus Christ, your guardian
angel, your patron saint, your inner wisdom. Let these
entities write a letter to you.
Nature loves balance, and so there will
be plenty of languid times to even out the hectic spans.
These quieter times are the moments when you will drink
deeply from the journal well. But your time crunch
doesn't mean you must sacrifice your journal, and your
journal doesn't mean you must sacrifice your time. As it
is with nature, there is balance where you seek it.
Excerpted from Journal
to the Self: 22 Paths to Personal Growth, ©
Kathleen Adams, 1990, Warner Books. All rights
contracted. Do not reproduce. Any electronic forwarding
must contain this copyright notice in full.
Kathleen Adams LPC, RPT is a
Registered Poetry/Journal Therapist and Director of The
Center for Journal Therapy in Lakewood, Colorado. She is
one of the leading voices on the power of writing to
heal and is the author of four books, including Journal
to the Self and The Write Way to Wellness.
Her upcoming seminars include the annual 5-day women’s
writing retreat in Colorado July 8-13, and a one-day
Journal to the Self workshop in Denver in late July. She
would love your feedback on this column; please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
or stop by her website, www.journaltherapy.com.
Kathleen's Past "Scribing the Soul" Columns:
2001 "Healing Words, Healing Touch: Jihan's Letters"
2001 "Love Letters"
the Authentic Self"
2000 "Riding the Inky Wave"
2000 "The Good News"
2000 "Soul Food: Exploring Affirmations in
2000 "Diary of a Headache"
2000 "Making Up the Truth"
2000 "Pockets of Joy"
2000 "Five Ways to Scribe Your Intuition"
Kathleen's Feature Article on Dream Journals:
in the Dark: Cracking the Soul's Code Through Dream