I’ve found it: the magic bullet. The bass-o-matic technique that solves all problems, cures all ills, makes its own sauce, whitens and freshens your teeth (and laundry) while you sleep.
I’m going to share my super ninja secret for moving forward when I’m stuck (it works even better when combined with Havi’s destuckifier), finding focus, lighting up the escape route when the cabin starts to fill with smoke, and giving me the ninja strength to punch my way through obstacles and make things happen.
This is the equivalent of Beatrix Kiddo’s Five Point Exploding Palm Technique. It’s so powerful and dangerous that you might want to burn your computer after reading this blog post. Or at least, I don’t know, clear your browser cache.
The top-seekrit, ultra dangerous, uber-ninja skill that will set you free
Start writing stuff down.
(From this point forward I’m going to get all bossy and tell you what I do. Feel free to slavishly follow my model or to ignore it and make your own.)
I’m not talking about making lists, although that works too. I’m talking about journaling.
(Normally I despise the practice of making nouns into verbs, but journaling is just different for me from writing or writing in a journal. Feel free to throw rotten apples at me, I understand.)
Journaling is the act of getting all the gunk out of your brain and onto paper.
Journaling isn’t really writing. Writing involves editing and shaping and making careful word choices.
Journaling is more of a purge. We all have a lot of crap rattling around in our heads. Unworthy thoughts. Petty obsessions. Stupid fears.
Everyone. The Dalai Lama, Pema Chödrön, everybody. Murky, ugly mental gunk is part of being a human being. Most of us walk along desperately hoping that no one ever finds out what awful people we truly are.
Don’t worry. The nicest people you know are secretly even more horrible than you. (Hard to believe, I know.)
Journaling lets some air in. Getting the gunk on paper makes it suddenly look not all that bad after all. And writing down all the horribleness robs it of its power. Which leaves you free and clear to master the universe.
The main technique
Use physical pen and paper. Yes, even if your handwriting is atrocious. Yes, even if you hate to write by hand. If you are physically able to write by hand, do.
When you write with a pen on a piece of paper, you can’t go back and change a word because “gee, I didn’t really mean I hate my little brother.” You’re stuck with what’s there. It’s a tiny commitment to get the true first thing out of your mind and onto the page.
If you need to use a keyboard and screen, turn the monitor off. You want to remove your ability to go back and edit. Journaling is all about uncensoring yourself and freeing up your need to be “nice” or “appropriate” or even “sane.”
You don’t have to get all fancy and use a Moleskine or whatever the cool kids are using. You could use a fountain pen, which is what I like (this is a good beginner’s pen), or a .19 Bic. Doesn’t matter. But do use something that’s as comfortable as possible and lets you write quickly. Think flow.
Write without stopping. When you’re journaling, keep the pen moving. Even if you have to write this is stupid this is stupid this is stupid this is stupid this is stupid until you come up with something to say.
Journaling is not about consideration. It’s about moving too fast for your Inner Grown-Up to keep up.
Embrace the horrible. You’re de-gunking, remember? There’s going to be yukky stuff in there. Racist, homophobic, heterophobic, boring, immature, petty, mean-spirited, cruel, violent, bitter, self-pitying. downright evil. Name any quality you don’t want to have, it’s gonna come out.
What you find out when you do this is that you can write the words
I wish a nuclear bomb would destroy all life on earth so my assbag neighbor would melt and die
and nothing bad happens. No nuclear bombs. No destruction. No lightning bolt smiting you dead.
Plus, the feeling goes away. Or at least it eases up a little. You may find yourself starting to laugh about how out of proportion it all is.
You air it out. And when you air it out, the demon loses its ability to slow you down and confuse you. Life works better when you’re not slowed down and confused.
How often do you do it?
Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way recommends three “morning pages” of freewriting every day for a month. I’ve done that a bunch of times, and it’s a great exercise, very freeing.
I usually journal when I’m feeling blocked up. There’s a particular sense in my gut when I’m not moving freely and I’m unfocused and crabby. That’s when I know I’ve got some gunk to clear out.
Sometimes I need to journal every day. Other times, I might go a month or two without needing it.
Journaling and goals
Lately I’ve had enough big projects to juggle that I’ve had to get a little more focused about goals. Plus I gained about 15 pounds that, for some reason, don’t look all that good on me.
So I’m doing Dave Navarro’s Damn Serious New Year’s process for some goals. Every day I journal a page (or two, if I feel like it) on progress and stuck places and looking for potential gunk. It keeps my attention on my goals and reminds me why I want them.
And it helps me see that I am getting traction and the wheels are moving, even if the movement is subtle. Which is huge. I don’t know anyone strong enough to keep taking action on goals if they don’t think that action will bear fruit. Journaling lets you see the little baby steps of progress, and those will build momentum if you let them.
Share your ninja prowess
Do you ever journal? What tools do you like to use? Paper or pixels? Fancy notebook or scrap paper? Do you journal every day? Do you keep your journals or destroy them?
Let us know your ninja journaling techniques in the comments!