Benefits of Journaling (Even if You’re Not a Writer!)

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Is it just me or have you been struggling with taking time for your well-being too? If you scour the Internet, you’ll find varying opinions of what we should eat, when we should exercise, what our ideal body weight should be… the list goes on. One area of reaching our optimal health is being overlooked – our mental health. While improving our physical health through diet and exercise can impact our mental health, I want to introduce you to another way to improve your well-being. The use of journaling has many benefits, and I’d like to take the time to share some with you.

Now as an old school (emphasis on old school) writer, I own more journals/notebooks than I do lipsticks. Something about putting pen to paper and letting my thoughts flow is therapeutic. You may not consider yourself a writer, but I don’t want this to inhibit the freeing release journaling provides. Allow me to explain why journaling is something you need in your life.

1. Free Expression. There are instances where the opportunity doesn’t come for me to speak openly about my thoughts and feelings. Whether it’s because I don’t want to offend someone, I feel like I’m just venting, or I don’t have time to spare regurgitating my thoughts, journaling provides the means to be open and honest. My journaling is without the intent of an audience – I’m writing for myself. The paper doesn’t judge me. The only time my pen interrupts my speech is when it runs out of ink. I’m free to write whatever my heart desires. I don’t have to stick to a certain format either. Starting off “Dear Diary” is not my method. Some of my entries are as simple as:

Today was pretty mediocre. Nothing too bad or good. That is all.

Other times my length exceeds my expectations and I’m left with pages upon pages of my soul spilled out before me. Drastic difference right? The freedom to say whatever I want/need allows me to be relentless with my honesty.

2. A Time for Reflection. The freedom to write with honesty produces a great means for reflection. There are times I’ll reread my journal entries and smile as I relive the happy moments. Other times I’ll reread other entries and realize my viewpoint was wrong or whatever I was complaining about was nothing more than making a mountain out of a molehill. Because thoughts and feelings are fleeting, reflecting on journal entries provides a means of keeping your perspective in check. It can also give insight as to patterns you can recognize. Are your thoughts and feelings projecting the lifestyle you desire? Are you crying out for help? (If so, please get the help you need. You can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/)

3. You are in Control. Because journaling is writing for yourself, you are in control of how and when you journal. There are times when I spend an hour or more jotting down ideas. As I mentioned earlier, some days I’ll only write a line or two. While I strive (and fail on repeat) to journal every day, you may find this doesn’t work for you. You will find what works for you, and I encourage you to continue it.

4. Private Time. Allow this to be your time. Like deep breathing and meditation, you will serve yourself best by writing for yourself. It’s not often I share my journal entries. When I do, it’s usually to enrich someone else’s life and not focus on myself. Memoirs are written with similar intent. Perhaps you’ll find your journaling should be read by others which is great! However, when in the moment of writing don’t let an audience dictate what you produce. This is your time to be honest.

5. You Can Do It Anywhere. Previous generations held great value in writing letters and keeping journals. Some may blame the advancement of technology for this practice’s demise. While there may be some truth there, does having an electronic device inhibit the means of journaling? Absolutely not. Most devices come equipped with a feature similar to a notepad. Likewise, journaling apps provide an easier and helpful way to record your entries. The beauty of journaling is you can jot down your ideas practically anywhere. There are times where all I will have is a pen and the back of a receipt. I also have typed journal entries in my phone. Journaling doesn’t need to be done in an office. It can be done while waiting in line, while hiking on a trail, on a lunch break – the possibilities are never-ending.

The benefits of journaling are abundant and it will enrich your life. Like strength training, journaling is a way of keeping our mental health in check. It’s a fantastic way to keep your perspective in check. Because you are the writer, you can write whatever and wherever.

Do you journal? What works for you? Not sure how to get started? My next post will cover the basics of getting started and forming a habit of journaling. Stay tuned!

 

Until next post,

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Photo Credit: Marcel Hol at http://www.freeimages.com/photo/little-black-book-2-1464302

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#LennReads – Book Review of Sinking

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I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting great authors when I attended the Gold Rush Writer’s Conference back in May.  One author I met was Sarah Armstrong-Garner, the author of the Sinking trilogy.  I was sold when she described SINKING as a girl named Jocelyn who washes upon the shore of Ireland void of her memories set in the 18th century.  I loved this story and am excited to reveal my thoughts.

My Likes:

  1. The cover art. When I first was introduced to Sarah, I couldn’t help myself but first compliment her on SINKING’s cover art.  I seem to recall repeating the word “stunning” throughout our conversation.  Am I right?!
  2. The settings. Sarah does a remarkable job at transporting readers to the icy waters of Ireland.  Throughout the story, readers also experience the life of a sailor.  A trip to India allows readers to feel the vast difference of India’s heat.  This story will have your cheeks glistening with ocean spray, your hair whipped by the wind, and the taste of curry on your tongue all thanks to the great storytelling.
  3. The characters. The mystery of Jocelyn draws readers in from the first few pages.  She’s fierce yet vulnerable.  As a reader, you will understand Jocelyn’s identity crisis and find yourself torn on whether she belongs on land or in the depths of the sea.  Jocelyn also finds herself entangled between other characters and is forced to deal with other’s intentions for her future.

My Dislikes: 

  1. Thomas Corwin. Among all the characters that you will love this guy will make your skin crawl.  Sarah does an excellent job illustrating a stuck-up rich man who only cares for himself.  However, this character has moments of softness, most often when he’s spouting off apologies for his temper.  Don’t be fooled by these moments.  I’m convinced Thomas Corwin is Lucifer’s cousin with a handsome smile.  You will love to hate him.
  2. The ending. The only reason I say I dislike the ending is because I wanted the story to keep going!  I was left wanting more.  Thankfully, Sarah was kind enough to include the first two chapters of the next book, DRIFTING.  And good news, DRIFTING is scheduled to be released early 2018.

 

Overall Impression:  If you love Ireland, mysterious pasts, or beautiful descriptions, SINKING offers all of the above and then some.  Sarah Armstrong-Garner takes readers on a journey where the life of land and sea intertwine.  You will be left anxious to read the trilogy’s next book and continue the journey.

My rating: 5 stars.

For more details on SINKING and Sarah Armstrong-Garner, visit her Web site at www.SarahArmstrongGarner.com

 

Until next post,

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For the Love of Updates – Part 2

It’s time for some updates!  There have been a number of changes since I last gave you an update on my life.  I’m happy to mention there are three big updates regarding my reading, my writing, and a personal update.  (Scroll down to Number 3 if you’re short on time because it’s my most exciting update. *wink* ) Let’s get started!

  1. My Reading. As part of studying the craft of writing, I’ve been alternating between reading fiction and nonfiction. I finished a fantastic YA fantasy book called SINKING by the lovely and talented Sarah Armstrong-Garner. I’ll be posting my full review of it tomorrow, so be sure to check it out!  I’m almost done with Stephen King’s ON WRITING and let me say, if you are a writer, GO READ HIS BOOK!  His life story is inspiring enough, and King discloses his tips and tricks on how he has had success in the writing world.  He’s named King for a reason.
  2. My Writing. My WIP (work in progress) for my debut novel VANITY is still coming along. I’ve made some revisions after having feedback from beta readers which has been such a blessing because it means I’m perfecting this story just for you, my dear reader.  Like any investment, editors can be pricey, so I’ve been working extra in my daytime job to save money to send my story to an editor for review.  I’m hopeful I’ll have the means to send my manuscript to an editor this coming fall.  Once I get my manuscript back and make some revisions, it will be my turn to brave the query trenches… DUH – DUH – DUH!  In the meantime, I’ve also been gearing up for attempting NaNoWriMo this November for the first time.  (Feel free to join me!) I’ll be blogging throughout my experience to let you know how it goes.
  3. A Personal Update. A picture is worth a thousand words, right?  I figured this would be the best way to tell you my exciting news…

Announcement

Yay!  My family and I are so excited for this bundle of joy.  After our loss last October, I struggled with patience and wondered if our clan was complete.  It was a reminder that sometimes you can do everything right and things can still end up wrong.  I was also reminded that holding onto hope can bring us experiences that supersede our well-thought-out plans.

 

What have you been up to?  Any personal updates to share?  Let me know in the comment section.

Until next post,

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#LennReads – Book Review of “Homes”

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The past few months have been somewhat of an epic journey of my own.  Among busy schedules, the worst season of illness in our household, and now new writing adventures, I finally am happy to present you with my book review of Derek A Kamal’s Homes.

My Likes:

  1. Book Quality.

I must say first and foremost that when I received a copy of Homes I was impressed with the quality of the book.  Kamal and his illustrator did an amazing job with the book’s design and layout which is why I recommend getting the hardcopy instead of the e-book.  I especially loved seeing the world’s map at the beginning of the book instead of being tucked away at the end of the book.  It was setting the scene before I even began reading the prologue.  Well done, Mr. Kamal.

  1. Terrific Worldbuilding.

In addition to the map, one aspect readers will enjoy is the worldbuilding of Homes. Kamal is able to describe the settings with vivid intent.  He was able to take me into the mines of the Dwarves from the beginning.  Throughout Gram’s journey, readers will be exposed to a new kind of world, venturing the secret life below all the way up to the tallest of mountains.

  1. Gram’s Relationships with Faff and Oelia.

Within the story there are two special relationships Gram has.  The first is between Gram and his close friend, Faff.  I particularly liked these two characters because I found their relationship reminiscent of Frodo and Samwise.  However, Gram has more gruff to him than Frodo ever will, but you’ll like Gram nonetheless.

The other relationship is between Gram and Oelia.  This happened to be my favorite two characters because as a reader you get to explore a different side of Gram.  In addition, the two of them have conversations over a pot of tea, so how could I not love them?!  There is a twist in the plot that changes their relationship but that’s all I’ll disclose.  🙂

My Dislikes: 

With any review, I’ll be honest and say there were a couple of things I might have changed.

  1. The Prologue.

It was a bit confusing to read initially, but once I got the tone of the character I was able to make sense of it.  If you happen to be a game master (GM) or are into tabletop gaming you’ll appreciate the prologue.  Either way, the prologue does provider pertinent information that develops the story.  I promise it will make sense later.

  1. The Heavy Dose of Backstory.

This was hard for me to admit because as a writer I understand how much we want our readers to be immersed in the story.  Kamal’s approach is a bit different in that he writes a backstory within sentences like so:

“During these lulls, some occupied themselves by sitting, staring into nothing, thinking the thoughts of dwarves (which largely consist of their next drink or meal, beautiful things, subterranean creatures, folklore, and family drama), swinging their crossed legs absentmindedly.” (Pg. 92)

You will not be bombarded with chapters upon chapters of backstory, so don’t let that deter you from the story.  It was more of a stylistic observation I made.  Is this how I would tell the story?  Probably not.  Should Kamal have changed this pattern?  Absolutely not.  Again like a GM, this is how Kamal conveys the story, and I don’t fault him for that.

Overall Impression:

Homes offers a unique story centered on a dwarf named Gram.  This book offers adventure and whimsy within a well-crafted world.  If you enjoy tabletop gaming, I would highly recommend this book.  To everyone else, you will love the characters.

My rating is 4 stars.

Until next post,

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