|Otlre Confine latest edition, January 2012|
DEAR ME: THE VALUE OF A DAILY DIARY OR JOURNAL
This third installment of the magazine of the visible and invisible worlds Oltre Confine is on the topic of Diaries and Journals and their value to the psyche. Journaling has long been recognized as contributing to mental equilibrium, so it is no news to explain exactly how scribbling your thoughts down every day or as often as you can can have a benefit to your personal growth. But surprisingly so few really take advantage of this and use it as a daily practice. 'No time' seems to be the biggest excuse, but it is well worth finding that window of time. Please the column from the English version below.
The column is very tightly controlled by the editor so one of the books I didn't have space to cite from is Louise de Salvo's Writing as a Way of Healing (2000). A limit of 3,850 spaces is too compressed to make much sense. So much needs proper expansion and explanation.
De Salvo's book, more than any other, delves deeply into the psychology of writing and the link between suffering and memoirs, autobiographical writing, or just healing writing workshops and the stuff writing brings up.
Salvo is a scholar of Virginia Woolf so brings a wealth of literary references to the table. She cites that in the novel 'To the Lighthouse' (1927) Woolf finally exorcised the ghosts of her mother and father. 'Writing is a sturdy ladder out of the pit' said Alice Walker. One way out of that pit we find ourselves trapped in is to go mad. Another perhaps to keep it locked up inside, to repress and watch it pop up again as the shadow side, the trickster. Another way is to write it all out on to a page. So writing is a ladder, a narrative chain that forms the right connections in the brain to restore health. To exhibit these struggles to the world in book form is marvellous, but it is really not necessary to gain the psychological benefit of wholeness and being propelled along the process of, as Jung called it, 'individuation'. You just have to write it for yourself and if it dies along with you, then it will still have served its purpose.
The link between creativity and repair of the psyche has not gone unnoticed either. Andrew Brink wrote that 'The impulse to write comes from early damage to the self. Doubt, pain, anxiety are fuel that drive the creative process.' While writing itself is not therapy, and not a substitute for it, it nevertheless permits us to be cohesive, elaborate, thoughtful, personal in a narrative form which always robs any trauma of its power to hurt us. So enjoy this taster on diaries. If you continue to write daily, you could be amazed to see how far you have travelled on this earth school trip called life we are all on.