Exorcism Journaling

What is meant by “exorcism journaling”?

A short while ago, I got into the habit of keeping a journal of sorts. Instead of writing reflections and thoughts coherently, I simply write emotional vomit; that is, I write all my negative emotions and discontentment in a near-but-not-quite stream-of-consciousness manner. It’s not meant to be well-phrased, thought-out, introspective, written for later reading or for a prospective audience. It’s not entirely stream-of-consciousness either. It’s simply emotional vomit. Hence the term exorcism; it’s a sort of exorcism of negative emotion. Catharsis.

Why “exorcism-journal”?

Catharsis. Plain and simple. Get in there and write your emotional vomit, feel free to scrawl across the page with no concern for legibility. Just get the words out. Emotional vomit. Write everything vile inside you, all those horrible emotions and thoughts that plague you.

You will walk away feeling so much lighter, at least for a short while. That should be reason enough.

How to “exorcism-journal”

Acquire cheap paper.

Don’t use nice paper or stationery, don’t use a nice cutesy journal or anything like that. Your best friend is a cheap $1 spiral-bound notebook. I cannot stress this enough, get the cheapest lined paper you can get your hands on. The nicer the stationery, the more you’ll be subconsciously inclined to take yourself seriously.

Acquire your absolute favorite writing instrument

If you prefer to write with those cheap 15-cent bulk-buy Bic pens, that’s great. If you’re a pencil kind of person, that’s fine too. If you have a $20 fountain pen that you adore, use that. The point is that it should feel like a pleasure to write with.

Prepare a distraction-free space

Turn off your computer. Turn off your phone and put it across the room. The goal is for there to be as little friction and interruptions as possible. If you’re thirsty, go get a glass of water. If you want ambiance, get your music and candles situated before you sit down. Get rid of every possible distraction so you can write uninterrupted.

Don’t worry about your penmanship, don’t be afraid to write in a scrawl.

Get in there with your raw emotions. Don’t write well. Don’t write entirely illegibly unless you think it’s necessary. (Mine are borderline illegible, but my deliberated handwriting isn’t much better.)

Don’t use spaces or paragraphs to separate topics; just let things flow in one big page or set of pages.

This seems like an odd one, but I have found that the catharsis is more complete when I don’t format my thoughts with paragraphs.

Why I don’t like the term “journaling”.

The idea of the journal has a lot of (for lack of a better term) “baggage” attached to it. It is supposed to be well thought out, introspective, and a reflection on your day. Keeping a bullet journal, keeping a daylog, or keeping a prayer journal, all of it has preconceived expectations. Connotations, that sort of thing.

A case for cheap notebooks (as opposed to journals)

Journals are an overrated novelty and a complete waste of money. Contrasted with a $1 notebook, you get considerably less real-estate per page, and less pages altogether. Journals worth writing in are ~$10, a spiral-bound notebook worth writing in is ~$1. For the price of a journal, you could get 10 notebooks.

Aside from more real-estate, spiral-bound notebooks allow you to tear out their pages and rearrange them in a three-ring binder. You don’t have to take your paper so seriously. You can doodle away on one page and write in another, take notes from the phone on another page, and class notes on another. It legitimately does not matter. Notebooks are superior by every metric, the singular outlier being size. Notebooks are thinner than most journals, but a great deal wider and taller, which makes them difficult to fit in small purses or travel bags. (I would testify to the superiority of the backpack or duffel bag, but that’s a talk for another post.)

Subjective impressions and experiences.

I started the practice a short while ago, and I absolutely adore it. I sit down every evening, or sometimes multiple times a day, and just write. It feels amazing to write my raw emotional state, Much of my writing is prayers.

Every time I finish writing both sides of a page, I rip it out and tape it to my wall — not with any intention of ever reading it or having anyone else read it. My room is my sanctuary, and having my innermost feelings on the wall makes me a part of it, and makes it a part of me.

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