How Journaling Can Boost Writer Focus and Clarity
Writing is about expounding on a topic so that it pulls the reader in a direction the author has chosen to share. With journaling, on the other hand, we release control of the direction of our writing to God, so He can pour into us the quality content, direction, and topic. It requires being comfortable enough not to be upset when your words appear to have no particular topic. Journaling is unstructured structure. Trust the process. Read on to learn how journaling can boost writer focus and clarity.
God wants to be part of everything we do. We don’t have to “sell” Him on the idea of making contact. He wants us to recognize His sincere desire to have a positive influence on our lives. All we need is a willingness to spend time—in a quiet place—to read, reflect, and listen. We are not here simply for our personal satisfaction. We have assignments to complete.
During the COVID lockdown, I spent weeks journaling with no particular focus. I simply awoke early in the morning, read, meditated, listened to music, and wrote what came to mind. This was the “free-flow writing” stage. Somewhere in this process, my thoughts drifted to what life must have been like for the wives of some of the most important characters in the Bible. It was in these journal moments I jotted down the title of my first novel—a historical fiction called The Housewives of the Bible. Not long after this work, I completed my second novel, The Bachelorettes of the Bible.” Both works were completed in two years—the initiation of which was grounded in having spent quality time listening to my inner voice, then journaling the messages I felt coming from my heart—my spirit. Whatever the label, when you recognize the strength of your inner self, you are better able to focus so that energy flows. This process will help you focus your thoughts and enhance your experience as a writer.
Listening Room Experience
In order to gain clarity about your individual assignments, establish a pattern of deliberately setting yourself apart from the noise, environmental clutter, and distractions of life so that you can consciously rest and listen in His presence. Here are several suggested guidelines that may help launch your listening room process:
- Decide to clear space on your schedule daily to devote to listening (reading the Word aloud) and communing with the Lord. “So, faith is from hearing, and hearing through the word of God” (KJV). Often, as writers, we hesitate and doubt we can accomplish our writing goals. But, by reading the Bible, you are encouraged to press and pursue.
- Clear the noise clutter and reduce the “worldly” distractions (e.g., texting, television, telephone interruption, the internet, etc.) Inform family and friends that you have an appointment and are not available during specified times you have designated as listening room time.
- Wherever the location, be consistent to enter that area faithfully. Have your recorder, pen, and notepad available so you can jot down ideas or thoughts that come to mind. I suggest you do not bring a laptop because you might be tempted to check your email, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter updates. Most importantly, leave your phone in another area of the house; place it on silence, or shut it off. For some, you may experience withdrawal symptoms, but press through for the rewards are great in the end.
- Select instrumental music to play during the initial “settling in phase” of your listening room time. This is a great way to calm and relax your mind while setting the atmosphere. Remember, your goal is to strive toward spending quiet, reflective moments that will help release creativity while being sensitive to what you may hear in this commune time.
- Establish a pattern by committing to perform this process for at least 21 days. Practice will make this process a permanent part of your life and open doors to great works.
Journaling can boost writer focus and clarity if your practice the following simple rules:
- Pray for God to guide your heart
- Unleash inhibitions and doubt. Accept your individual uniqueness and do not compare yourself to others.
- Relax, recharge, and refresh by listening for God’s voice speaking to your inner being, and trust that the result is clarity, direction, and peace about the quality of the content you are creating.
- Possess a positive attitude about the outcome of your journal time. Don’t doubt that you heard from God. Believe and openly receive the messages that come to you as words, phrases, or sentences.
- Open your heart and mind to the possibility that the words you write will have a positive effect on the mission and objectives of your writing goals.
- Stay focused and reject environmental distractions (movements, sounds, fragrances, and other environmental distractions). Remember, the enemy does not want you to be successful because your work will be for the good of others.
- Expect God to meet you each time you enter the “listening room” to deliberately hear from Him. Know that his messages will fortify you in all you are assigned to do because you are journaling His purpose.
The value of journaling has been downplayed because mastery of this exercise would take the enemy to his knees. As Christian writers, it’s important to maintain an awareness of our position. We are in this world but not of this world. Writing is our assigned form of communication—a gift from God. Whether a short story, novel, article, investigative report, or biography, the content should provide a mechanism for providing enjoyment, encouragement, accountability, and support. Often, we get so lost in what everyone else is doing and we neglect to connect to the power that comes through taking time to listen then write what you hear from the spiritual connection—that small voice that leads and guides us in what we would be moved to communicate to others.
About the Author
Theresa V. Wilson, M. Ed. is an award-winning suspense/thriller screenplay writer, writing coach, and indie book entrepreneur. An ordained minister and former educator, her writing passion covers twenty-five years and includes several magazine publications. Theresa served as faculty and newsletter editor for the American Christian Writers Association, and was founder/coach of a writers’ group. Theresa’s novel The Real Housewives of the Bible won the 2020 Christian Indie Award for historical fiction. As one of TBN’s authors, Theresa was awarded an opportunity to publish, When Your Normal Is Upset: Living Secure in Uncertain Times, under the Trinity Broadcast Network. You can find Theresa on her website: theresawilsonbooks.com, Twitter: @WritersCoach721, or Instagram: @writersinthemarketplaceupdates.