You will probably never meet a more diehard journal-er than me. If I’m out in public and have nothing better to do, I’m usually bent over a hardcover ruled Moleskine, pouring my heart and soul out onto its creamy pages. I’ve been journaling sporadically since I was a kid, and that habit turned ritualistic when I started doing it near-daily at age 14. Ever since then, it’s been an absolute necessity for my emotional processing and mental health. I don’t function properly without a notebook and pen and a little time each day to make use of them.
It occurred to me recently that, although journaling isn’t strictly a sexual topic, it’s a process that has improved my sex life in many ways and so it’s worth blogging about. Here are some of my best suggestions for honing and upgrading your sex life using a journaling practice.
Do morning pages for clarity and productivity.
“Morning pages” are an invention of The Artist’s Way author Julia Cameron. Every morning, first thing upon waking, you write three longhand, stream-of-consciousness pages. You keep writing, even if the only thing that comes out is “I don’t know what to write,” until you’ve completed your three pages.
I don’t know why or how this works, so don’t ask me to explain, but… morning pages make me noticeably and astonishingly more clear-headed, productive, creative, and energetic. In those pages, I come to realizations about goals I want to achieve and experiences I want to have; I plan adventures and endeavors; I list fears and work through them; I stumble upon feelings I didn’t even know I felt. And then I go out into the world and take all that clarity and initiative with me, making bigger and better things happen in my life than would ever happen without the influence of morning pages.
To give you an example of what kind of changes this practice makes in my life: it was actually my morning pages that helped me realize I needed to end my relationship. One day my pages started with me rambling about a cute guy I had a crush on who was very much not my boyfriend, and by the end of the three pages, I had come to the stark realization that I had to break up with my partner because I just didn’t have the same passionate, desirous feelings for him that I had for some other people. I had been waffling for months about whether a break-up was really necessary, but those three pages showed me without a doubt that it was.
I think morning pages enable you to access parts of your psyche that you might inadvertently be hiding, even from yourself. That’s useful when it comes to sex because even the most open-minded among us will occasionally still bury a secret desire or fantasy if it seems too “out-there” or taboo. And on the flipside, your morning pages might help you come to a realization about a sexual activity or fantasy that isn’t serving you, that doesn’t feel good, and that you can eliminate from your life.
Brainstorm a hundred ideas.
I forget where I first heard this, but somewhere along the line, I learned a neat trick: if you’re stuck on a problem or question, try brainstorming 100 different answers or solutions.
Yes, one hundred. It seems like a lot, and it is. After the first ten or twenty, I always get to an uncomfortable juncture where it seems like I can’t possibly come up with any more. But then, inevitably, I do. And that’s when the real magic starts.
I usually use this technique for personal problems or career ventures, but there’s no reason it can’t be applied to sex, too. If your sex life needs a shake-up, try listing 100 totally new-to-you things you could try with your beau (or by yourself). Don’t censor or judge yourself; just let the ideas flow. You’re sure to stumble on at least a few gems, even if the vast majority of the list gets discarded in the end.
(If, like me, you have a sex-related biz or blog, you might also find this strategy useful for coming up with post ideas, product offerings, etc. The sky’s the limit!)
Look for patterns.
If you’re already a frequent diarist like me, I strongly encourage you to peruse your backlog of entries and look for any elements that keep popping up.
For example: I didn’t realize I had a thing for oral servitude until I started looking through journal entries about my fantasies and desires and noticed that theme coming up again and again. And even once I had realized it, it took me additional journaling to figure out why I was into it, and how I could better integrate that kink into my sex life.
Pattern-hunting can also be useful if you often find yourself getting triggered or overwhelmed during sex. You may not realize, in the moment, what causes you to disengage or panic, but if you write about every detail you can remember (which I realize can be hard, but may be worth it), you might be able to isolate some common elements that you can then avoid in future. Maybe you hate feeling trapped, maybe a specific scent or sound sets you off, or maybe certain dirty-talk words or phrases just don’t work for you. (As always, with any tricky mental health stuff: proceed with caution and consult a professional!)
Script difficult conversations.
Communication is mandatory in good sexual relationships, but it is hard sometimes. If you’re an anxious person like me, you might find it useful to write out a rough guide for what you’d like to say, to make sure you cover all the important points and phrase them in the best possible way.
Here are some examples of hard conversations and speeches I’ve pre-scripted in my journal before tackling them in real life: asking to be dominated in bed, asking to be kissed less aggressively, discussing the possibility of non-monogamy, asking to be rimmed, and breaking up.
Do you write in a journal? Does it help your sex life in any way?
P.S. That’s a real scan from my journal at the top of this post! You can click it if you want to view it larger, you nosy little minx.