I have a tendency to be a within the lines kind of person. I'm a rule follower, and feel safe when I know what the rules are, so I can check them off and know that I did everything "right."
Problem is that feelings ... and people ... can't be synthesized into a set of rules. There's no checklist, so there's no way to know if I did anything "right."
Over the years, I have often taken pen to paper in order to write about my feelings or write through an issue I'm having with someone. I used to write in pretty journals, but now I prefer yellow legal pads, college ruled. And I have a particular type of pen that I write with. The ink just flows smoothly and cleanly, and nothing ever gets smudged. I take my special pen and write in neat printing or maybe all caps or sometimes even flowy cursive. Either style works. It just has to be exactly the same for the whole piece.
I start each line justified left and can almost always make sure it's also justified right. The pages look so pretty and neat. And no mistakes either. I self-edit as I write, so nothing is crossed out, no misspelled words or missing punctuation. But that's not really journaling is it? Journaling is about being real not about making sure every line is the same length or putting a copy editor out of business.
At a workshop one time, the leader instructed me (specifically, me out of maybe 50 participants) to write my workshop journal responses on a diagonal, outside the margins, make mistakes, etc. It was hard for me. I ended up writing at about 30 degree angle on each line and to each edge of the page ... and I edit as I write, so no mistakes. It looked different, but was still "perfect." A few years ago, I started typing out journal entries on the computer. That helps with the self-edit because I type a lot faster than I write. But somehow it's just not the same. There's a different connection when I'm physically creating the words on paper.
Special notebooks, using different pens, writing with my non-dominant hand or any other technique is helpful to do things differently, to give my brain a boost. Ultimately, I just have to make a conscious effort to set aside my desire to make everything look right and focus instead on making it feel right so I can learn more about myself and continue to grow. A.D.