NOTE: Farm Bureau is in the fight against farm stress and the too-long-overlooked challenges to farmers’ mental health. We’re sharing resources with every available audience because you never know when you’ll have an opportunity to help someone through a tough spot.
By Jeremy C. Nagel
Nowadays they insist on calling it ‘journaling,’ but my inner grump says call it what it is: writing. End of the day it’s just a comfort thing and whatever makes it easier to record your thoughts is what matters, because the activity is far more important than what you call it.
As early as fourth grade it was clear I enjoyed writing more than most of my classmates. It started (and persists) with letters. Throughout elementary, junior high and high school, I embraced writing assignments — papers and essays — more than anything.
A turning point came in late 1987, after my first English composition class at Stiles Road University required me to keep a daily journal. Daily writing was a chore and I didn’t maintain the pace well, but it found some kind of traction anyway.
Over Christmas break I found myself sitting at my bedroom desk, staring out the window across our snow-covered back yard, my mind heavy with the woes of a sheltered, privileged 18-year-old small-town white kid. I reached into the bottom drawer, grabbed a fat spiral-bound notebook leftover from my sister’s nursing studies, and I started writing — for me.
That was 33 years ago and I’m still at it. Writing is one of my most stubbornly enduring pastimes, partly because of its value as an outlet for thoughts and feelings I can’t or don’t feel like sharing otherwise — or if it’s just nobody’s darn beeswax.
As a release, a way to organize jumbled thoughts or weigh the gravity of things as we evaluate their share-worthiness, writing can be surprisingly therapeutic. It’s a helpful form of quiet self-therapy and, over time, immensely comforting. Friends and loved ones come and go, but blank paper is always there, ready to listen without judgement and absorb your troubles without glancing at its watch.
Writing isn’t for everyone, but I encourage everyone to at least give it a try. I’m no expert, but after three decades of experience there are some tips I’d share:
That’ll do for now. I have a similar-but-different tidbit I’m eager to share in an upcoming article, but it should wait. Funny thing about writing: Starting is hard, but stopping is often much harder!
*I envy that familiarity and have a pair of free Farm Gate chore gloves (and a notebook!) for anyone who shares with me 500 or more words about their favorite field.