Writer's Block

Guest Blog by Henry Flemming-Smith a student from Leeds Trinity University.

As a child, my journalling, consisted of plants stuck in annotated pages with tape and in-depth critiques of my favourite wrestlers. My grandad, an artist, kept an immaculate journal full of sketches and notes on his daily goings, mainly for pork pies at Bury market. All writings are unquestionably unique and change throughout our lives.

Journalling should be a place where you can write your thoughts without judgement and is quite simply for you and you alone, if you wish (unless you get famous, die and your family find your writings and flog them!).


Journaling with intention

However, wellbeing journalling – writing with the intention to understand your own thoughts and to process your feelings – is crucial for a healthy life. If you have a place to write your thoughts and inner most feelings it can have a multitude of benefits.

It is unfortunate that not enough men adopt this practice, especially if you’re in the writing community and are already used to getting words down on paper. Even when time has proven again and again that some of the most influential people on the planet practiced journalling and spoke about the benefits it brought them. 

Think Marcus Aurelius who wrote Meditations, a journal, revered as one of the most influential books of all time and still read over 2,000 years later. Not forgetting great minds such as Captain Cook, Winston Churchill, Sir Edmund Hilary, and Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton who all famously kept journals.

A resurgence

There has been a sort of revival of journalling for wellbeing within the writing community, especially for men. Videos from the likes of Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson, with titles such as ‘Never miss a journalling day’ and from the revered YouTube Guru ‘The Art of Manliness’ pumping out articles on his website, all about journalling, are a small glimpse into what’s making the community grow and start its much-needed come back.

Articles are springing up from GQ, HuffPost, and the Guardian, and that’s only a small fraction of journalling for men in the headlines. Self-help sections are growing in bookshops and the surge of journalling can be seen on the shelves, with books like The Daily Stoic Journal by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman.

What can journaling do for me and other men? 

The first major benefit, which I saw personally and is at the top of most men’s list for journalling, is stress relief. The Buddhists coined the phrase ‘monkey mind’, a state of mind described as a feeling of restlessness and lack of control in one’s thoughts. All of life’s daily stresses whizzing around your mind all day can be seriously stressful and can hurt your wellbeing, big style. 

Seeing your problems in ink can help your brain rationalise and coming back to prior days’ writings can give your mind some perspective and relief. Men often don’t speak about their feelings, as they don’t want to be perceived as weak. Telling yourself how you feel can be the first step to being able to open up to others and will, in turn, make you a mentally stronger man.

 Men can often feel embarrassed about starting to write a journal possibly due to the portrayal of men in the media we consume. Men are often portrayed to be strong and tough skinned, with our purpose solely on protecting others around us or we have no value.  However, the first line of defence in protecting the ones we love is making ourselves mentally strong. Journalling for yourself will exercise and strengthen your mind. It takes time, but men who journal will go from feeling embarrassed to feeling empowered and confident.

The hustle bustle culture we are in can stop us appreciating what we have. Journalling opens the opportunity for reflection, and you can often see a wonderful life shining back, if you only start to look. The benefits of practicing gratitude can include feeling more consistent happiness levels and feeling more confident. Try filling a page with just things you are grateful for. Mine include simple pleasures like the fried egg sandwiches my partner makes, but it makes me smile and feel lucky. 

Start practicing journalling with the intention, that this will be for your wellbeing. Journalling is best done daily but why not start with a few lines at first if it’s a challenge. Soon you will be filling pages in no time, as you will start to see the benefits really start to mount up. 

Henry Fleming -Smith is a writer originally from the small village of Cawood, but now has moved to the ‘big smoke’, Leeds. Studying a journalism degree at Leeds Trinity University, he loves to write several different articles, from fitness and health to entertainment. Experience working for Men’s Health magazine and several small businesses around Yorkshire. 

Find out more about the benefits of journaling:

Unlock the power in your pen

Why men should journal