Journaling (when you HATE to write)
Journaling is a common communication technique recommended in the kink community. However, most of us hate to write. I include myself in this group. Until my mid-30s I both hated to write and sucked at it. Seriously, a blank screen or page was torture. Having to come up with 500 words seemed like a daunting task. And I have dyslexia so writing was really painful.
At munches and in reading about kink I would see the suggestion to journal and think, “Yeah, that is great if you like to write. I don’t,” and move on without ever trying it. So why and how did I go from “fuck this” to “yep, I am a professional writer?”
Journaling is commonly recommended but the real benefits are rarely explained.
Let’s start with what is journaling. It can take several forms. Some people journal in a private journal to have a dialogue with themselves. Many subs journal and their d-types will read it as a way of creating communication between the pair. Some people journal their fantasies as a way of communicating in a way which feels less threatening.
All of these forms have benefits for the practitioner. Writing, even if you are the only one who reads it, helps get stuff out of your head. Like most folks, I will get something stuck in a loop in my brain and stress about it. Whether it is practicing a hard conversation or working out a fantasy or thinking about what someone said to me at a munch, I can spend so much time thinking about something it becomes bigger than it really is. This is common. Just think about the last fight you had with someone in your head while showering.
Writing takes those thoughts out of your head and puts them into black and white. This can be both cathartic and focusing. I live with bipolar disorder and have learned that when I write something down and then reread it the next day the intensity of the emotion had died down and sometimes I can see what the real issue is in a way I couldn’t work out in my head. Same goes with kinky thoughts.
Writing, when it will be read by your d-type can help with communication. For those of us who are highly emotional or who don’t want to displease a d-type or may be afraid to ask something, journaling can be a safer way to approach things. Additionally, for long distance relationships regular writing can help with bonding.
Tips and Tools
But what if you hate to write or find it difficult? Here are a few tips and tools.
Make It Short. Writing, composing full sentences, finding the right words can feel intimidating. Instead of trying to write a narrative, write lists, bullet points or cluster ideas (remember your high school writing class?). These forms don’t require you to write full sentences, contextualize or transition between topics. Jotting down your top five fantasy scenes or your top five fave toys is a quick and easy way to start.
Use Prompts. There are a lot of journaling prompt sites and books for subby types out there. I provide a bunch in my book The Big Workbook for Submissives. Other submissive bloggers provide lists and prompts as well. These short prompts will help you come up with topics to write about if you are stuck.
Don’t Try To Be A Great Writer. Perfection is the enemy of the good. People want to be the next Hemmingway or Atwood. The reality most of us will never be that good. And that is okay. There is no need to strive to be a great writer in journaling. You are striving to get your thoughts onto paper, nothing more. Don’t fret about spelling, knowing the “big words” or making sure your ellipsis are used correctly.
Set Reasonable Goals. You may have a fantasy about journaling 15 minutes nightly. Its a great goal. However, its pretty unrealistic. I don’t write everyday and I have more than 500K words in publication after 10 years. Nobody NEEDS to write every day. If you haven’t written much before start with a goal of two or three times a week. Work up if you like. Stay with a couple times a week if you aren’t feeling it. And give yourself permission to skip a day if you are just too tired or sick or don’t feel like it.
Ask Your D-Type for Help. Its okay to ask your d-type for prompts or to check in with your progress. If you make an agreement to journal twice a week, have an agreement with your D-type about rewards or punishments if you do/don’t do your work. Or arrange to make it part of your protocol where you have to journal the night after a scene or some such thing.
Chart Your Growth. Writing helps us grow and expand. Every three months or so, go back and review your journaling. Are you trying new kinky play? Are you thinking differently about kink? Are you feeling differently about yourself or your relationships? Make notes on how you have changed. This can make periods of drugery and difficulty feel more worth while. It can also help with depression.
End each entry with one thing you are grateful for. I know this might sound silly. But taking a few minutes to reflect on what you are grateful for actually changes your brain. You cannot be depressed or angry at the same time you are grateful. Several psychological studies have shown that if we take a few minutes a day to reflect on what we are grateful for, we can reprogram our brains to look for the good instead of the bad in situations and make us clinically happier. Since you are journaling anyway, make your last lines about something you are grateful for. It has long term effects.