Pare Down Your words and Write Often

At the beginning of each new year we have the proverbial clean slate – a blank page to continue our story or to revise it –  another chance to “get it right” – to live up to our evolving resolutions once again.

It’s not too late to begin 2017 with pen in hand or fingers tapping keys to clear the clutter of our minds. Why not start now with a new method to recount your days and with a positive intent.

Research supports the ancient practice of personal writing for healing and wholeness. Putting your thoughts and feelings into words provides a mirror for reflection of yourself and your world.  Guided journal writing provides the opportunity to avoid staring at an empty blank page.  Instead you benefit from inspiration from prompts, poetry and more to jump start your creativity.

If you think keeping a journal requires that you have to write volumes, think again.  Even a very few words or a couple of short phrases can result in lasting and significant benefits.   Here are two different journals that both suggest that you write just a few words.

The Five-Minute Journal is available as a book as well as digital apps.  If I were a lot younger I might choose to do more online journaling, but my personal preference is for this company’s linen-covered hardback book. When I write by hand using a pen on paper, I sense a special connection between my hand and brain, unlike when typing or tapping screens.  Others have told me they prefer to journal on their devices where they sense that same feeling. Personal preference it seems.

Positive psychology is the basis for The Five-Minute Journal’s format.  Their moto is: “the simplest, most effective thing you can do every day to be happier.” Their website and blog link stories, videos and relevant research.

On each day’s page, in the morning you record the date; read an inspiring quote, note what makes you grateful, jot several to-do’s for success followed by an affirmation.  In the evening, write a few words about what worked and what you wish for the next day.

A bonus with this journal is that you join their vibrant international community of enthusiastic, creative people working to help you succeed in business and personal life as well as to grow in mind and spirit. Find more information at where you can also purchase their products as well as from Amazon.

The Essene Book of Days has been one of my favorite journals for over 20 years.  Author Danna Parry was inspired by stories of the people who lived thousands of years ago in the desert near the Dead Sea, not far from Jericho in Palestine.  Their scrolls, rediscovered in the late 1940’s, tell a story of their love for one another and the earth that Parry wanted to share in today’s world.  The journal is only part of his legacy that also includes conflict resolution work around the world before his death in 1996.

The Essene Book of Days is available only in book-form. The current day, month and year are printed at the top of each journal page.  Reference to the seasons as well as solar and lunar cycles change according to the calendar. A daily focus, a deepening practice, a short meditation come before the eight blank lines where you write. This is followed by an evening blessing to complete the day. Teaching stories and folklore about seasonal changes are scattered throughout the book.

Although you can choose to do much more, they suggest that, at the very least, your goal should be to read and absorb the morning mediation and evening blessing and also write something each day.

In my opinion, adhering to a daily requirement is optional if you follow a consistent practice over time.  The Essene Book of Days is available from as well as from Amazon.

Before you begin to write in either journal, don’t forget to give yourself a moment or two in order to clear your thoughts and relax your body.  As you sit quietly, deepen and slow your breathing, and mentally scan your body to relax and become fully present.  Only then should you begin writing.

Even though you may experience an immediate ah-ha, discovering your own wisdom usually develops over time after sustained effort.   Having a simple plan to write on a regular basis may be the perfect antidote to rushing head-long into the year and your future.

Suggestions of journals mentioned are posted at:

Susan Hendricks leads guided journal writing groups in Columbia as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Journal Therapist and Certified Dream Group Leader. For more: or

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