by Luci Edwards with Creative Consultation by Nicolle Nattrass CAC II


 A personal journal can feel like a foreign concept in today’s hyper-marketed, hyper-visible social media landscape.

 It’s a place to create for the sake of creating, rather than for the sake of content—a place to articulate thoughts and feelings without an audience  or expectations.

 In my own experiences with journaling, I have often struggled to write without catering to a reader’s perspective, feeling as though I needed to preemptively   assuage their judgement.

 Similarly, I could not help but consider the visual appeal of my own journaling: is my handwriting neat? Are my date formats consistent? Did I misspell that   word? Does it look like that cute bullet journal I saw online?

 My journaling had become a performance, another artifact that my character and worth would eventually be measured by.

 I wasn’t treating myself with tenderness; I wasn’t allowing myself to make a mess.

 I am no stranger to perfectionism.

 Throughout the course of my undergraduate degree, I have maintained a 4.21 GPA whilst managing disabilities amidst a global pandemic.

 Learning how to balance this overwhelming mental load has resulted in a total elimination of messes in my creative process. I don’t do drafts; what I write   the first time is what I hand in, because I don’t have time to write anything else. This utter lack of forgiveness for myself has worked thus far, but it’s   completely unsustainable, and I’ve known that for some time. But I’ve never known how to create without the specter of perfectionism haunting my   consciousness—until now.

 I was recently connected with Nicolle Nattrass through a work-integrated learning program with my university.

 Following our initial meetings and the beginning of my internship with her, I have since read Nattrass’s book, Just the Two of Us: A Soft Place for Tender  Hearts to Land.

 The book was written to serve as a guideline for Creative Journaling with children. It was inspired by her own personal experience of journaling with her   young son after a traumatic car accident.

 She has also drawn from her knowledge and professional expertise as a certified addictions counselor creating programs to help people of all ages use journaling in their struggles with mental health, substance use and post traumatic injuries.

 Nattrass’s observations about journaling were sincere revelations to me, while also being so straightforward and intuitive that in hindsight I felt as though   they should have been obvious to me.

 As you can see, self-criticism can be a difficult hurdle to overcome.

 Sometimes what you need is gentle permission to make a mess, a reminder that nothing bad will happen if you give a ‘wrong’ answer, because there are no   wrong answers.

 In reading Nattrass’s advice for helping children journal freely in a manner beneficial to them, I found the crucial wisdom and guidance to help my own   journaling practice flourish—I needed to treat myself with the same gentleness I would offer a child, the gentleness that my child self had been denied.

 To read the full article on Medium

 To purchase a copy of Just the Two of Us, digital copy here & hard copy via Amazon here

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