Break the Habit of Linear Journal Entries

#Mindmap of @MichaelJGelb's How To Think Like ...
#Mindmap of @MichaelJGelb’s How To Think Like Leonardo da Vinci workshop.

Journaling plays  (well Journaling  is not even a word but let’s define it as the act of writing in a journal) a critical role in personal growth and development. In a journal you can pour out the inner workings of ones soul and capture them in the real universe on paper. You can think through ideas, practice new ways of thinking, come up with ideas for overcoming the barriers that block your path to success. You create a memory log of past emotions, milestones, achievements, failures and all the frustrations of living in the modern world with all its distractions that seem hell-bent of prevent you from transformation. You record your  plans, goals, secret desires, and dreams .

At any time you can flip back to an entry to relive a moment…rekindle an ambition, or simply reminisce about a victory or a transformative  moment. A journal grows to embody your journey on a very deep personal level.

On and off over the years I’ve put my thoughts down on paper as a way of clarifying emotions and thoughts and ideas. I started out with just ordinary notes lined note books. I wasn’t fanatical about journaling everyday. Whole swaths of years have vanish, never once taking pen to paper. Yet over the years the habit grew and grew  becoming an integral part of daily life. I’m still not fanatical about writing every day however the way I journal has evolved as I’ve read an absorbed ideas and information from many places along the way.

My first really big evolution came as I read How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day. This book changed me in a major way. It lead to a more flexible way of journaling which I will detail in just a moment. Recently the way I journal took another evolution created from an amalgam of thoughts and ideas mined from many separate sources.

The author of  How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day, Michael Gelb suggested in his book to find a journal with blank pages as a way of freeing up the stricture of lined paper. He also suggested sketching  as a way to train the eye to see more detail. Its easier to sketch when you don’t have vertical lines messing up your free hand efforts.

I’ve used this type of blank journal since I read Michael Gelb’s book

However, even with the blank pages and the idea of including sketches I still continued to write mainly linear entries just like I have seen so many others doing…some of them written in beautifully crafted script I could never emulate in a million years of practice. My pages normally looked like this:

Still mainly linear thinking.
Still mainly linear thinking.

While my style evolved over time I still continued to work in a linear fashion using the  left to right sentence after sentence habit trained into me during all those class room hours growing up.

At some point I began to work with mind mapping using large flip chart paper…there the whole object is not to think linearly but to allow ideas to flow from one point to another. Add that to a course on conducting seminars with tips on using different colors to mix things up and make distinctions between different thoughts or ideas. Then very recently as I sit down each morning to spend about a half hour reading Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One by Dr. Joe Dispenza. We delved into the quantum universe where the idea of linear thinking breaks down; where all possibilities exist in the same moment. As I started to record those thoughts and insights in my journal I noticed a very different style emerging and one I’ve continue to refine over the last few weeks.

New journal entry
New journal entry

You can see a very different style of entry. I began to incorporated different colors in the mix. I added more sketches. Ideas and thoughts began to flow differently. While I read from “Breaking the Habit” ideas flowed and morphed.

I purposely captured those thoughts in different colors and outlined them in another color. I found my mind free to jump around more, free to explore and not just record. I began to sketch out ideas to give me a visual picture of the different concepts we explored based to the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words.

I find this new method of journaling exciting, creative and liberating. I jump to grab my journal far more often now than in the past. While there is still room for linear recording I find myself madly circling an idea, thought or statement then drawing arrows to some other  thought and scratching in a note about a relationship or difference new to me. I find I now use my journal to think with, as a jumping off point to explore different avenues, freed as I am from the habit of thinking linearly.

As we delve into the world of Quantum physics we discover that only our own sense of linear time creates this rational order in the world we believe in and that  the universe pays little attention to cause and effect but works in possibilities and potentials which at any moment could manifest as reality in our physical confines. This profound thought came crushing though the gates of my traditional thinking recently…where a cause and effect where suddenly reverse in my mind and I saw an event unfold “backward” to my way of thinking. For a blinding moment of insight I saw my linear time line over laid by a quantum non linear event where all the things I saw linearly where all released at the same moment from the quantum field, and that only my perception created a cause and effect that did not actually exist.

Since journaling is such a critical part our journey to transformation, don’t you feel it makes sense to break out of the linear constrains of  left to right thinking? Don’t you agree that by breaking the habit of linear behavior you open up a whole uncharted universe of possibility? Would it then makes sense to overcome any discomfort you my feel by changing the way you journal to free yourself for greater exploration of self ?

In simple terms it goes back to that old Life cereal commercial tag line. “Try it Mikey, you’ll like it.”

Tools for New Age Journaling

1. A blank-paged journal. The one I use is available at Staples stores.

2. A handful of colored pens at least, red, blue, green and black…but any other colors you can find too.

3. Try sketching even  if you don’t think you are any good at it. Use it to  create pictures of difficult concepts or situations.

4. A willingness to create a new habit.


Nick Grimshawe



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