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Scribing the Soul
June 2001

by Kathleen Adams, LPC, RPT
Director, The Center for Journal Therapy

Kathleen is on Sabbatical Leave this Month.
Please Enjoy her Most Recent Column and Visit Again Next Month.

In ancient times, scribes were devotees of the Word. They were the bridges between worlds, charged with the sacred task of painstakingly transcribing the Mysteries into a form that could be referenced by holy men and women. Many centuries later, our modern journals give us unlimited access to the Mysteries of our souls. Through this column, I hope to offer ways that we can approach our own lives with the love and devotion of the scribes of old.

Journals to Go:
15 Ways to Write
for Under 15 Minutes Each

I gave up chocolate. I gave up expresso. I gave up the Count (that naughty man) and his little house in Cap Ferrat. My Waterman pen, however, is not negotiable. I must have something thrilling with which to record my boredom.
--Waterman Pen Company advertisement

Ah yes, the boredom. It's easy enough to find time for melancholy introspection when there's nothing else to do. But what about those languid nights of chocolate, conversation and expresso? What about the times when that scoundrel, the Count, is whisking you off to Cap Ferrat yet again? What about those times when you don't have enough time to live your life, much less record it?

Don't worry. You can keep your journal in under 15 minutes at a whack without ever feeling bored or boring. Here's how:

1. Keep a one-year diary. They come in an attractive assortment of cover designs; many have matching scrapbooks and photo albums. Because the format restricts you to about 100 words, writing takes 10 minutes or less a day. And keeping your one-year diary on the nightstand by your bed has a sort of Victorian simplicity that is madly appealing.

2. In the evening, write one adjective describing your day on your wall calendar. Then, underneath it, write one adjective describing how you want tomorrow to be. This takes about one minute and becomes a fascinating exercise in creating your own reality.

3. Best Thing/Worst Thing Springboards are great. Repeated use of these Springboards will give you a running commentary on the highlights and blackouts of your life.

4. Pick a theme word for a week or a month. Choose a juicy word like happiness, loneliness, confusion, clarity, anger, passion or change. Spend 5-15 minutes each time writing about how you experienced the theme word.

5. Find a moment from your day to capture in poetry or prose. The rainbow out your office window, the elation when the home team won the game, the luxury of a bubble bath. If you can't find a moment to record, slow down a little. And start expecting miracles. They might just show up.

6. Set the kitchen timer for 15 minutes. Quit writing when it dings.

7. Write a description of a stranger -- the person across from you on the train, the little blond kid in the bright red dress, someone you'll never see again, someone you haven't met yet.

8. Jot down the one-liners of philosophy, absurdity or spiritual revelation that wander through your mind. Hugh Prather's Notes to Myself is a (best-selling!) collection of just such "random" thoughts.

9. Write a list of "10 Things I Want Off My List By Tomorrow." Keep this list with you throughout the day and cross off items as you finish them.

10. Write a Win List of anything at all that went right during the day. (Yes, there are days when "getting out of bed" counts.) If you are in recovery from any sort of addictive behavior, be sure to list your recovery every single day as a win. If you're not getting at least a dozen a day, look harder.

11. Write your journal on 3x5 index cards. File entries by subject or date in a recipe box.

12. Write a postcard. Send it to yourself. The ultimate travel tip for journalers on the go--write your daily log on the back of picture postcards!

13. "Flow write" for 10 minutes. Start anywhere, go where you please.

14. Thumb through an old magazine until a picture "sings" to you. Clip the picture and paste it in your journal. Write about it.

15. Write a prayer. Write a letter to God, your Higher Self, Jesus Christ, your guardian angel, your patron saint, your inner wisdom. Let these entities write a letter to you.

Nature loves balance, and so there will be plenty of languid times to even out the hectic spans. These quieter times are the moments when you will drink deeply from the journal well. But your time crunch doesn't mean you must sacrifice your journal, and your journal doesn't mean you must sacrifice your time. As it is with nature, there is balance where you seek it.

Excerpted from Journal to the Self: 22 Paths to Personal Growth, © Kathleen Adams, 1990, Warner Books. All rights contracted. Do not reproduce. Any electronic forwarding must contain this copyright notice in full.

Kathleen Adams LPC, RPT is a Registered Poetry/Journal Therapist and Director of The Center for Journal Therapy in Lakewood, Colorado. She is one of the leading voices on the power of writing to heal and is the author of four books, including Journal to the Self and The Write Way to Wellness. Her upcoming seminars include the annual 5-day women’s writing retreat in Colorado July 8-13, and a one-day Journal to the Self workshop in Denver in late July. She would love your feedback on this column; please e-mail kay@journaltherapy.com or stop by her website, www.journaltherapy.com.


Read Kathleen's Past "Scribing the Soul" Columns:

April 2001 "Journals to Go"

March 2001 "Healing Words, Healing Touch: Jihan's Letters"

February 2001 "Love Letters"

January 2001 "Scribing the Authentic Self"

December 2000 "Riding the Inky Wave"

November 2000 "The Good News"

October 2000 "Soul Food: Exploring Affirmations in Writing"

September 2000 "Diary of a Headache"

August 2000 "Making Up the Truth"

July 2000 "Pockets of Joy"

June 2000 "Five Ways to Scribe Your Intuition"


Read Kathleen's Feature Article on Dream Journals:

Writing in the Dark: Cracking the Soul's Code Through Dream Journals



Visit Kathleen at her Website:



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