Keeping a journal can be good for us, but does it matter what we write? Lara Zielin, an author and life coach, believes it does. Ms. Zielin, who is 45 years old and based in Ypsilanti, Mich., advises her clients to follow a method of journaling she calls “Author Your Life,” where people think about themselves as characters in a story of their making. This approach can help the hesitant begin writing and break the rut that experienced journal writers can experience when they revisit the same things over and over, she says.
“Journaling can be an excavation if you let it, it’s getting to the root of the root of what’s really going on with you and what is really the problem,” Ms. Zielin says.
Below, she describes the benefits of writing about yourself in the third person and how 10 minutes a day of journaling can be enough. Edited excerpts:
Why and how should someone start journaling?
Journaling is really, really good for us. It’s a tool for self-reflection and there are many studies that show it is good for our physical and mental health. I teach my own method but there’s no wrong way to journal. What makes journaling most effective is this idea of welcoming stillness and reflection. Where we get stuck is that in our culture everything is screaming at us to not stop.