Ritual writing is an effective way to nurture creativity and offers a consistent, welcoming space for emotional expression and reflection. It can be a beautiful feature of your life, and bring you unprecedented self-awareness.
This is again an area that you will give shape to and define as you proceed with journaling. I'll share how I do it, and you can go from there.
A valuable journaling practice is to set up a time and place once a week to write. The regularity helps prime your brain for writing, making it ever-easier to access the sometimes obscured contents of the heart and mind. When I lived in Santa Cruz my ritual was taking four of my journals, a blanket, and a cup of coffee to the cliff by the ocean--Saturdays, first thing in the morning.
I would begin with the dream journal if I remembered my dreams from the night before--this is the easiest form of journaling to me because all it requires is reporting--no creative action.
Next I'd get into the gratitude journal. Also easy, because I would just list the things I remembered from the past week that I appreciated, requiring some mental effort but not much. I'd flip back and read previous entries, reminding myself where I was at weeks or months before, and always smiling at what I'd been grateful for that I'd since forgotten.
Then I would open the heart-mind journal. This is the journal that feels the most special to me. It's the one I will take out of my car and keep with me if I am at all worried there could be any kind of break-in. My heart-mind journal includes my confusions, frustrations, anguish, confessions, insecurities, dreams, hopes, self-compassion, reflection, higher self appearances, and so on.
Now mentally primed by the dream journaling and gratitude journaling, and as the caffeine is kicking in, I'd begin to write reflections about significant recent experiences, and/or where I'm at in life and where I'd like to be, frequently pausing to take in the sights and sounds of the seascape.
When I felt I had expressed everything I needed to in the moment, I'd open my work/to-do journal and get practical and logistical. I'd write down what I wanted to accomplish over the weekend and next week. Sometimes it would connect with the heart-mind entry, sometimes not so much.
My ritual writing sequence created itself. It just made sense when I would sit down with these journals that dreams and gratitude were the easiest and by the time I was done with those entries, I was ready to go deeper. Finishing it off with something practical made me feel oriented and like I had a good sense of what to prioritize over the weekend.
Setting up your ritual writing
Decide how often you feel you want or need to write. Right after a major breakup, I was writing fairly extensively every single day to help myself get through my thoughts and feelings. Falling in love, same thing. As more time went by after major emotional experiences, my writing sessions became more haphazard, but I maintained a weekly session for months. Writing consistently makes for more meaningful and interesting journal entries. You don't have to be perfect, and it won't be the end of the world if you miss a session. Just pick up again as soon as you can.
Establish a time and place--and a backup time and place--that you feel comfortable in. Maybe combine it with coffee, or tea, or breakfast, or an evening yoga session, or whatever appeals to you.
I would definitely recommend starting out with a rather simple form of journaling, one that requires little effort, before tackling something bigger (although sometimes the big stuff is ready to pour through right away!). Maybe you choose to journal in a natural space and begin by describing the scene unfolding around you, or describe how you feel in your body. These kinds of passages require only simple observation, but gets you in the writing mood, preparing you well for deeper reflection.
Let me know how it goes! Comment below or reach out via the contact form.
Next up: Intro to Journaling Part 5: Spontaneous Writing
Series in Review:
Intro to Journaling Part 1: Why Journal?
Intro to Journaling Part 2: Materials & Organization
Intro to Journaling Part 3: Setting up the Heart-Mind Space
Intro to Journaling Part 4: Ritual Writing
Intro to Journaling Part 5: Spontaneous Writing