Monday, April 29, 2013

What will I write?

“We write to taste life twice: in the moment and in retrospect” so wrote Anaïs Nin.

And the practice of journal writing, offers a beautiful and valuable tool to leaders and learners alike.  

It is a method for us to capture our thoughts, reflections and ideas on the events and experiences in our life, whether that be day-to-day happenings,  our work, a development workshop or 1:1 sessions with our coach.  

Journaling helps us to tune into what we notice,  sense check and give meaning to our experiences.  It enables us to think critically about root causes of complex issues and connect theory with practice.  It enhances our self awareness, through providing a means to recognise and identify patterns of behaviour and can therefore transform our learning and reformulate our perspectives as we realise how our perceptions of the world may be constrained by our particular values beliefs and assumptions.  It builds our confidence through an explicit recognition of our abilities and gives us greater clarity about our areas of development.  Inevitably it relieves tension and allows for re-energising and renewal.

The process of writing may involve jotting down a few notes to longer prose. 

You can be systematic, and create a specific log to record events and explore what went well, what could have gone better, what one has learnt.  You may want to just capture interesting points; or focus on the content, or perhaps the process.  You may want to reflect on relationships and group dynamics, or skills demonstrated, or feelings that emerged.

And you may also want to go deeper to tap into your intuition by accessing your unconscious, by free-flow journaling. Here we set our intention to what we want to write, and literally keep writing, not lifting the pen from the paper, for say, a number of pages.  We don’t edit, we don’t judge, we just keep a continuous flow of words.  

And then is the time when we step back from our journal, and reconnect with it at a later stage, to see what we have written and ask ourselves:

  • What insights have emerged?
  • What patterns do I notice?
  • What am I learning about myself?
  • Is there an action or commitment I need to take?
 If so, we take it.


Image: own photo

Thanks to Sarah Thomas, for her inspiration from her “On Reflection” (August  2003) paper submitted as part of a MA Individual and Organisational Development, University of Westminster, which she kindly lent me.


  1. Penelope, yet again you've provided me with impetus and encouragement to use the tools and skills within my reach. In this case, I regularly look at all the beautiful, albeit empty journals I have, and tell myself to just START. I am now going to start today. Lil x