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How to Find Your Authentic Core Through Journaling

It’s time to get real in your writing, develop your authentic ideas, and tap the blood that runs through your veins. To do that, you need a tool to capture your raw thoughts: enter your journal.

Journaling is just the right device for capturing your unpolished ideas, for exploring and developing your opinions, and for building your daily writing habit.

Too often as bloggers we write about what everyone else is covering in our niche. It’s bland. It’s impersonal. It get’s fucking boring.

A journal is where you explore ideas that you care about without regard for an audience, without interest in trending topics, without worries about revenue, pulling truckloads of traffic, or concern for other people’s opinions.

Instead, this is your space to play in private.

Touch Your Authentic Core

Your writing is you, it’s how you actually speak transferred to text. It’s the rhythm, cadence, word choice, and tone of how you actually say shit. It’s your unfiltered voice.

With a journal you can have a conversation with yourself. You can ask yourself questions and record the answers. You can tap the deepest part of your psyche and document your fears, dreams, desires, and insane ideas.

In your journal you can: swear, attack, rant, and just throw words around willy-nilly. You can let loose and be yourself; there are no repercussions. This is your notebook—your’s alone.

This journaling is your authentic self, your fears captured with no sensor, your ideas written down so you don’t loose them—with no forced concern for an audience.

Writing in your journal is how you touch the matter deep inside you.

Your Journal is a Raw Writing Experiment

No forced constraints. No canvas edge to hold your brush in place. This is your space to try things, to tackle new ideas you have, to write quick or write slow. Use your journal to experiment with:

  • Subject. Tackle subjects that you often blog about and see how it feels to write on them more freely in your journal. Also, reach well outside your normal subject matter, get personal, tell stories form your childhood, or come to grips with all manner of topic that grip you.
  • Style. Try writing in a variety of styles. Write short and punchy, like Hemingway, eliminating as many adjectives as possible. Then try writing with ample metaphors and verbose descriptions.
  • Tone. Try shifting your tone. Get aggressive with your writing, throw out challenges, or even get depressing and negative. Try writing with unrealistic optimism. Shift viewpoints and see how it feels.

Try different writing styles, tackle subjects that feel off-limits, and explore wildly in your journal. This will spark a fire that will light up your writing, extend your writing limits, and lead to breakthroughs.

Try writing with a timer in place. Set it for ten minutes and freewrite on a topic unchecked. Push your pace—until thought to fingertips become a blur of interconnected flow.

When you have ideas that feel like they are buzzing with electricity, grab them right away, and just write on them unchecked. Get the idea down, hit it from different angles, and run with the rhythm of the thought. This is what your journal is for.

It’s not your outlined, well-planned, overly-strategic writing, but rather that place where you capture lighting.

Fruit That Will Feed Your Blog

The writing freedom of journaling allows you to lay down some raw, powerful stuff. This can be hard to write when you know you will be publishing it on your blog, so putting it in your journal removes this barrier of anxiety—allowing you to more freely explore the idea.

That said, you can pull from your journal and use what you’ve written there in your business blog writing later on. You can grab this clay and rework it for your audience and topic.

That impactful rant you made about staplers, how they are more heavy-duty weapons than useful tools—yes, you have the scar to prove it—you may just find a purposeful place for this bit of journaling in an article you’re working on months down the road.

You can pull from your journal—grab paragraphs, ideas, approaches, and more—well after the emotional connection to it this material has lessened. Take out your journal, rifle through it, pull out a bit of writing that is dripping with interest, and then work it, shape it, and develop it further.

In your journal you can explore any writing without consequence. Later, you can come back and mine this material—grab the shiny bits that you want to share with your audience. This is where you build the stuff that will resonate and buzz.

There’s no easier way to write uncensored, to lay out your authentic opinions, than in your journal.

Notebook Versus Digital Journal

A notebook is a must have tool for a blogger. It’s the simplest thing: a paperbound, lightweight, portable space to write in.

It’s easy to keep accessible and doesn’t require any power to operate. You can bring it anywhere, the park, the beach, stuff it in your gym back. You can step on it, accidentally run it over with your car, and it still functions—sure enough the words are still there.

A moleskin notebook in nice. It feels weighty and important. Use it if it feels right and you can afford it. An expensive notebook isn’t necessary though. I’ve written in one dollar notebooks with Spongebob and other characters on them. This isn’t your pretentious space, your journal is just a tool for capturing your thoughts. Use whatever is most handy.

A notebook works just fine for many, but for some, like myself, I prefer to write on my laptop. (I do use pen to paper for temporary idea capturing though.)

I use a specific app for my journaling and I prefer it for writing out my running thoughts. It has some advantages:

  • Quick Input. I type a whole lot faster than I can write with pen to paper. This makes journaling in an app fast and smooth.
  • Greater Privacy. You can literally password protect your journal writing. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with a paper-based journal. You don’t have the same lock on your thoughts, so don’t get the advantages of knowing that your writing is kept private.
  • Scalability. You won’t run out of space in your journaling app. You can fill notebooks, then have to organize them on bookshelves, whereas with journal software, you just write it and it will always be there. You can write anything from here to eternity and it will scale with you.
  • Scan and Search. When your journal is software-based, rather than a notebook, you can easily scroll back a few months and look for interesting bits that can feed your blogging and business writing. What may have felt uncomfortable to share then, may feel share worthy now. It’s helpful to be able to quickly scan, search, and then copy out sections from your journal.
  • Online Backup. This is a great feature. Once setup, anything you write won’t be lost. Fire can’t touch it and computer failure won’t loose it. It is always available in the mysterious cloud.

Jump on Google and search for journal software. I use Day One and am very happy with it. It supports markdown. The interface feels elegant and simple. It’s easy to work with and helps me focus on just the task of writing. It is Mac based though, so only a good fit for you if you’re on a Mac.

Evernote is an option for everyone that has a computer or web-based device. It is available for Windows, Mac, and a host of mobile options. It works really well for journaling, as well as broader idea capturing, research, business writing, and more.

You could create a dedicated notebook for your journal in Evernote. It’s excellent software for quickly capturing your ideas. The password protection isn’t as robust as Day One, but if you use it online, then you can password protect it.

Your journal is just a tool. So, regardless of the notebook or app you choose, make sure it’s something you feel comfortable using daily.

Entertain Yourself First

To develop as a writer it helps to have a medium like a journal where there are no rules. A place that is private, where no one will read what you write, unless you want them too.

As a blogger or solo publisher, people will buy from you because you have real value to offer them. You’re not a robot. You’re not a douchebag just trying to make a buck from them. You have a heart, a pulse, real problems, and real solutions, as well as something noteworthy to share.

Your journal is a great place to write down your raw ideas. It’s where you explore your personal issues and develop your voice a as a writer. It’s where you write for yourself: entertain, educate, and enlighten you first.

Readers identify with real people, who have tangible feelings, who have unique thoughts, and are excited about their topic. Your journal is where you capture this authentic passion you have about a whole range of subjects.

First, journal with no filter, and no plans for publication, then let it sit and cool. Come back to this material and mine it, when you aren’t emotionally connected to the subject. Grab from this material when it feels right—run your hands through this universe of your own creation.

The writing you put down in your journal forms the raw substance that you can use to power your blog writing.

Graphic Credit: Notebook designed by Pham Thi Dieu Linh from the Noun Project.