Cause its all in my head…
I think about it over and over again,
I replay it over and over again,
And I can’t take it yeah
I can’t shake it
Lyrics from the song Over and Over by Nelly and Tim McGraw
Written by Cornell Haynes Jr., Jayson ‘KoKo’ Bridges and James D. Hargrove
Sometimes there’s just too much stuff going on in my brain and I need to sort it out. It doesn’t matter whether it my personal feelings or memories, my to do list, or snags in the plot of my newest book, talking it out, or writing it out seems to simplify things and I can think better, clearer. It stops all those thoughts and feelings from circling around in my head, fogging up my mind so I never find any answers or resolution.
I met a woman, years ago, who had hit a rough patch in life. She had been diagnosed with cancer and was undergoing treatment. Her husband had just had a heart attack. Not a good year for them, right? They weren’t coping; their worries for their own personal health issues were compounded by their fear for their partner. Their first inclination was to keep their fears to themselves, so as to not burden their spouse; after all, they had enough to deal with.
So who do you talk to when the one you’re most used to talking to is unavailable? I told her my secret for staying sane in bad times…journaling. I advised her to get a pretty hardcover or cheap paper notebook, it didn’t matter, hell, binder paper would work. The point was to put all those unspoken and swirling emotions on paper, hopefully to make some sense of them and, at the very least, find some comfort and relief in getting them out of her head.
This kind of journaling is not to be shared. It’s an opportunity to sort out feelings, be angry, spew out negative thoughts, whatever you need. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve written myself into a state of calm and acceptance, and, I’m sorry to say, might have attained this by dumping on others, on paper. None of that was ever meant to be read by anyone else, and it has all been shredded, so it never will be. But writing things down, venting, if you like, is a much kinder and safer way of dealing with things than to actually say the words to someone and have to live with regret.
I wanted to help this woman and sent her a pair of journals to get her started. When I met her a year later she told me that journaling had been a lifesaver for them and greatly affected how they coped with all the stresses they’d faced.
In the book ‘The Artist’s Way’ the author talks about daily notes. It’s basically the same theory as my journaling only for dealing with a creative block. I was given the book as a gift, as I had not painted in a year and was struggling to find my way back to it. I read the book and did all the exercises the author suggested, including the three pages of daily notes.
Write whatever comes into your head, the book instructed. In the beginning, I wrote things like ‘I have to write these damn pages and who cares what I write, I need to shop, wouldn’t it be nice if the weather cleared…you get the idea. It was drivel, nonsense, and it was done out of a sense of duress. But it worked. Within a very short time my notes were all about creativity, short poems, sketches for future art work, and my tension over losing my artistic ability was gone, and I found myself painting again. The style might have been different, but that was okay, I was painting.
I still have notebooks galore, full of art ideas, story lines, maybe just words or phrases I like. When I have the need for that other kind of journaling, the need to vent kind, I do it in a story, anonymously of course.