Why Journaling is Like Wine Tasting
Journaling Q&A with Sommelier and Publishing Pro Renee Wilmeth
After 30 years of quietly journaling without discussing it with another soul, I am having a ball connecting with other journalers about our respective practices. There are so many varied approaches to and uses for journaling as a personal and professional tool.
I recently spoke with Renee Wilmeth, an independent consulting editor, publishing professional, and wine expert, about how she approaches journaling. Renee is a former senior editor with Penguin Group (USA), where she acquired and edited more than 300 books. She has written for national and regional magazines and is a frequent contributor to Wine and Whiskey Globe in addition to working with publishers, authors, editors, and agents as a developmental editor and ghostwriter.
Navel Gazette: What type of journaling do you do?
Renee Wilmeth: I use quite a few different types. My favorite is travel journaling. I have these wonderful journals with sections for trip planning and itinerary and pages for writing on the trip.
As someone with a long history in publishing, I am also really enjoying the current trend of book journaling.
Most of all I make tons of lists and keep scraps of thoughts, ideas, and things I come across in notebooks that I periodically review. I love using lists to track my goals — not only quantifiable measures but also the qualitative areas like gratitude.
Do you journal much about your internal state - your thoughts and feelings?
At certain times, absolutely yes. When we first started covid lockdown, I had many days of sitting at my table and journaling about what I was feeling. It felt important to record that experience.
Are there parallels between your journaling and your professional writing?
I think writing about wine is the closest parallel. The hardest thing with wine writing is to describe how a wine smells. It can be very difficult at first to put a name to what you are smelling. You need to ask yourself questions - Can I name any fruit smells? Okay, I smell cherry. I smell green apple. Can I name any non-fruit smells? Okay, leather. Cloves. Cigars. You have to trust what comes up and the associations you are making.
Journaling can be very similar when you’re trying to put names to feelings and figure out the meaningful associations. Like with wine, you have to sit with the experience and ask yourself questions.
What journaling practices have you found most helpful for your wellbeing?
Toward the end of last year I had a period of feeling very preoccupied and anxious. I sat down and asked myself, “What’s bugging me?” and wrote out the eight things that I was worrying about. Knowing I had them written down allowed me to just keep an eye on them without over-stressing. I think every one of them resolved within two weeks.
Journaling has also helped me learn over time what triggers my anxiety, and to manage those triggers with habit trackers. Setting up those systems helps me see anxiety as just a component of experience rather than something that overwhelms me.
Learn more about Renee at connectorcreator.com and on Instagram @feedmedrinkme.
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