Mama Journaling 101: Don’t Worry About Grammar or Spelling

Just write

and write

and rite

and right

and don’t let a little thing like spelling or grammer or prose or what yur third grade teacher or fifth grade teacher or who cares what grade, just dont’ let the things they taught you slow you down

write and write and write and write

and magic will happen

its your journal so eff apostrophes and spell check and the correct placement of commas

if you are going to write things for publication, there is this beautiful thing called “revision” but you do not have to write for an audience in your journal

just you

so write and fuck spelling, fuck grammar, and fuck all your preconceived notions about what it means to be a writer

everyone is a writer!

Journaling 101: Write Whatever You Want

Earlier this month, I blogged about how I want to inspire other mamas to write their postpartum stories. That post is right here. In it, I recommended starting small with journaling before committing to a big project like writing a book. If you want to write a book, that’s awesome, and I’ll eventually write some posts about that since I learned so much from writing my memoir. But for most moms, journaling will probably be enough.

For today, I have two thoughts. (That’s about all my mama brain can churn out in the morning!) (Especially since I quit caffeine.) (I know, I’m crazy.)

(1) Call it whatever you want. If you like the word “journal,” call it a journal. But if you like the word “diary,” call it your diary. Or if you are a Trekkie, call it the Mama’s Log.

Just don’t get hung up on the word “journal.” Words are sometimes loaded with baggage. Maybe you had a ninth grade English teacher who made you keep a journal, and the journal was the bane of your existence. In that case, just the word “journal” might keep you from writing. But what if you come up with a fun phrase like “Mama’s Mental Health Gazette” or “The Continuing Chronicles of Mama’s Motherhood Adventures”? Then you can move past any preconceived notions about journaling and get to writing.

2) Because that is all I want you to do. Write. If you have any inclination to write, then please oh please, just write all ready! And what should you write? Whatever you want! You do not have to keep a meticulous record of the things that happen on a daily basis.

I think of my journal as a “journal,” but it’s really just a document on my laptop where I do “free writing.” Sometimes I write about the things happening in my life, but sometimes I just write a string of affirmations. Or I write the words that pass through my head. Sometimes I write lists of things I want to do just to get them out of my brain and on to the page. The point is: I write what I want to write.

Journaling Prompts:

Have you ever kept a journal in the past?

What did you call it?

How does the word “journal” make you feel?

Let’s say you want to start a practice of regular writing. What word do you want to use to refer to that practice?

And remember, prompts are just meant to get your neurons firing so you do not sit and stare at a blank page or empty computer screen for twenty minutes and then realize nap time is nearly over and shit, you need to answer some emails. Ignore the prompts completely or pick and choose and use the ones you write. You can even write about how lame you think journaling prompts are! I’m not offended. I’m just happy if you take the time to sit and compose a few words and tap into the healing power of writing.

Write Your Postpartum Story!

Writing my memoir was so cathartic, I would like to help other parents write their postpartum stories. My brain, the eternal perfectionist, wants me to spend months and months outlining a series of helpful blog posts before I share a single thought with you. My gut, however, says it’s time to start.

And so this is the first in a series of blog posts that will hopefully inspire you to write your postpartum story. I don’t know how many posts there will be, but I do know there will be a lot, because writing is awesome and I want to help any moms or dads struggling with writer’s block. So let’s get started!

My first tip for writing your postpartum story….

[insert drum roll]

Start journaling.

That’s it. You don’t have to commit to writing your memoir or a formal series of blog posts. Don’t get me wrong: publication is incredibly healing and cathartic. But I suggest you start small so that you don’t get intimidated and come up with a thousand lame excuses to procrastinate. If you are meant to write a memoir, don’t worry. The journal entries will (eventually) become the memoir. But if you are overwhelmed with parenthood, don’t think about writing a book. Just contemplate a singlejournal entry. Start with that. That’s enough.

I started with journal entries. I worked with a cognitive behavioral psychologist after I was diagnosed with postpartum depression, and he encouraged me to write. In fact, he gave me homework assignments, e.g. “Stop checking the locks at night and write about how that makes you feel.” The homework assignments motivated me to journal daily, and eventually, the journaling turned into an 80,000 word memoir.

But the 80,000 word memoir started with a single journal entry.

My first postpartum journal entry wasn’t very good. It was just me babbling the thoughts pinging around in my head. But damn, it felt good to get those words on to paper.

If you feel any inclination towards writing about your postpartum experiences, I think you should give it a try. Start small. Start with a single journal entry. It does not have to be very long. In fact, I’m giving you my permission to just write a single sentence and call it a journal entry. If you want to, write another. Or don’t. Maybe write one sentence today, two sentences tomorrow. Like a baby learning to walk, step by step, you can build a writing practice, sentence by sentence. There is no right way to write your first journal entry.

But I promise: I’m going to do my damnest to help you loosen up and hone your writing muscles and write your postpartum story.