I’m thrilled to interview Jill Winski, a writer, creativity coach, and Martha Beck Certified Life Coach. On her website, The Artist’s Nest, she provides “support for the vulnerability that comes with creativity”. She is a frequent (and wonderful) blogger on all things creativity and a big believer in the power of journaling. Visit her website at www.jillwinski.com
MIR: You say on your website that you’ve journaled since you were thirteen. I’m wondering in what ways your journaling practice has changed over the years?
JW: My journaling practice has definitely become deeper and more complex over the years. Back when I was 13, I mostly recorded events and my emotions about them. I remember my high school journals were full of angst about unrequited love and anger at authority figures! But as of my early 20s, I began using my journals to delve into my inner world (instead of trying to control the external world) and to understand myself better, to ask myself questions on the page, and to process the insights that came to me when I was in solitude. I also do “morning pages” most days, which I use as a way of clearing my mind in the morning. I consider morning pages a little different than my other journaling in that they’re more of a “brain dump” and less deep processing, though they sometimes go there.
MIR: What do you think it is about journaling that is so empowering?
JW: It’s a way of moving energy, for one thing. We all need a vehicle for keeping the energy flowing through us so it doesn’t get stuck. A practice really helps with this. Mine happens to be writing, because I like it. Journaling is also a way of knowing and understanding what’s going on in our inner worlds, and how our inner lives are connecting up with the external world. It helps us see ourselves more clearly when we get the contents of our minds onto the page. And knowing who you are is empowering! It’s also grounding and centering, as any good practice is. For me, journaling clears the way for more connection to my body and body wisdom, or intuition.
MIR: Do you use journaling in your work as a creativity coach, and does journaling in any way provide “support for the vulnerability that comes with creativity”?
JW: Not every client is open to journaling, but I do encourage my clients to at least give it a try. I often give my clients writing exercises to try out. Asking ourselves supportive questions is so important and a journal can be a great place for clients to experiment with that. I do journal about my experiences as a coach so I can learn from them. And yes, I absolutely believe that journaling provides support for us when we are feeling vulnerable. Any time we express ourselves in the world, we are vulnerable. The journal can be like a home base, a safe space where it’s okay to express anything. We need a foundation of safety in order to take risks with our creativity.
MIR: What do you find are some of the main blocks or vulnerabilities we have in terms of our creativity?
JW: One of the biggest ones I see is the idea that we “should” express ourselves in a certain way. With writers, I often hear, “I should be writing more like so-and-so, and as much and as often as so-and-so.” Underlying a lot of this is a fear of criticism or of not being taken seriously if we show up as we are. And many people have at some point gotten some feedback on their creative work which threw them, and that can sometimes shut us down. And the safety issue that I mentioned before is a big one. It’s not talked about enough, but it is really important to create safety for ourselves when we take risks. We can find ways of putting our work out into the world that feel supportive to us instead of totally frightening and overwhelming.
MIR: What about journaling for writers? Can journaling be beneficial to the writing process?
JW: Absolutely. And there’s certainly no right or wrong way to do it. I often use my journal to explore issues that are coming up in my fiction writing, particularly when I feel stuck. And frequently my blog posts get started in my journal. I know writers who use their journals to jot down story ideas, or interactions they observe, or dreams (dreams are great teachers about story structure and the elements of surprise and inevitability).
MIR: Tell us about your offerings and where readers can get more information about them.
JW: I work one-on-one and in small groups with people who feel stuck or scared around creating, who would like to put their work out into the world more but feel vulnerable about that. I help them take a closer look at what’s going on there and create support systems (inner and outer) so they can feel more relaxed and confident and have more fun with their creativity. I also speak to groups on these issues. More info about the work I do is on my website, www.jillwinski.com.
MIR: Do you have a journal prompt for us today?
JW: The one that comes to mind right now is: “I am willing to let go of …” and then you do the reverse: “I am not willing to let go of …”
MIR: Thanks, Jill!