A few days ago I was reading an article about journaling as self-care, and came across several quotes by local Austin professor James Pennebaker, author of The Secret Life of Pronouns and Opening Up By Writing It Down. Pennebaker had this to say about when and how and how long to journal therapeutically:
Dr. Pennebaker’s research has found that even a one-time 15-to-30-minute session of focused journal writing can be beneficial. In fact, he said he is not “a big fan of journaling every day.”
“One of the interesting problems of writing too much, especially if you’re going through a difficult a time, is that writing becomes more like rumination and that’s the last thing in the world you need,” he said. “My recommendation is to think of expressive writing as a life course correction. As opposed to something you have commit to doing every day for the rest of your life.”
If you’re distressed about something, Dr. Pennebaker advises, set aside three to four days to write for 15 to 20 minutes a day about it. If you don’t find a benefit from it, he says, “stop doing it. Go jogging. See a therapist. Go to a bar. Go to church.”
I drew these notes during a Pennebaker lecture back in 2011. Fascinating guy.