Have you thought about writing a journal? Alexsys Thompson just published The Trybal Gratitude Journal and here talks about why she wrote a gratitude journal, the benefits of keeping a personal journal, how it can change the way you look at life, how to write a journal, how she published and more.
Writing a Journal
It only takes 21 days to form a habit. If that habit is keeping gratitude journal, then the benefits could last a lifetime. Building a gratitude practice can help you focus on the good in your life, stay curious and open to the world around you, and unlock your best self.
Getting Started: The First Steps to Creating a Journal
Charlotte: What inspired you to publish The Trybal Gratitude Journal? Was it a particular moment or had you wanted to share your experience with journaling for a while?
Alexsys: I’m often told things like, “You’re so lucky,” or “You’re so blessed.” Both of these are true, and I can attribute the quality of my life to two specific things: hard work and my gratitude practice. Though there is absolutely magic in my life, there is no sorcery in how I live my life. After a decade of trial, error, learning, and constantly returning to gratitude, I decided to design something anyone, anywhere can use to begin manifesting the life they are meant to live.
Charlotte: How does The Trybal Gratitude Journal fit in with and support your brand and your business?
Alexsys: Everything I do is based on the idea we should start with what’s right. Rather than dwelling on everything that’s bad or wrong, I choose to acknowledge it through the lens of gratitude and abundance. I’ve found it produces results more in line with who I am and the life I choose to live.
The Process: Writing a Journal for Others to Write Tweet This
Charlotte: How do you want readers to engage with this journal? What do you think would be a reader’s ideal experience with it?
Alexsys: I want people to consider the Trybal Gratitude Journal as an old friend. Just like your go-to confidant, this journal acts as a mirror of truth, love, and self-reflection. It’s a safe place to end your day, and the perfect way to start your morning. In an ideal world, my readers will discover themselves all while relishing in the pain and beauty of what life offers. I want people to know everything they need to build a life that is wonderful within them. It’s all about the lens they choose to see it through.
Charlotte: What did the process of creating and writing this journal look like? How did the writing process compare to the process of writing a traditional book?
Alexsys: It’s an idea that’s been in my head for a very long time. Unlike a traditional book, there were an infinite number of structures I could lean on, and no clear path to “the best” or “right” formula. It finally got to the point where I had to get it out of me! I’d been studying and collecting gratitude journals for over a decade; at some point you’ve done enough research. I wrote the opening chapters, drew out my design for the interior, and here we are.
Charlotte: Why did you decide to create a journal instead of writing a self-help book or similar type of book? How do you think the reader engages differently with the journal versus a self-help book?
Alexsys: Self-help books can be great. They teach us things, inspire us, and even shift paradigms. What was lacking for me was the actual practice. We all know we should be grateful. We all know to say thank you. What we don’t do is feel it. We don’t live it, breathe it, exemplify it. How many times a day do you complain? How many times a day do you listen to complaints? A self-help book might change that for a little while, but inevitably, over time, the inspiration would fade.
My goal is to build gratitude right into someone’s daily routine, to rewire their brain to see things from a place of abundance. The same situation but in color! I hope, at the end of the book, people can’t even remember what it was like to constantly complain because it doesn’t serve them, it adds no value, it isn’t who they are anymore. They are gratitude and love embodied.
Laying It All Out: Formatting a Journal
Charlotte: I imagine a lot of the work in creating this journal was the layout. Can you tell us a bit about the process of creating the visuals and layout? How did you know what you wanted and what would work well?
Alexsys: I’ve been collecting and studying gratitude journals for over a decade. Mostly as an extension of my own gratitude practice, but also because there was always something missing for me. Most of the structures were too linear, or lacking context, or not robust enough. After several doodles and meditation, it just came to me. Something neat and easy to understand with free-space to think, write, and reflect. I wanted something fun, yet directive. Readers will find two distinct places to “be free”: margin madness and the semi-circle for reflection. It’s in the margins I’ve had some of my biggest break-throughs!
Charlotte: Did you experiment with different layouts before finding the right one? How do you think the layout affects how the reader engages with the journal?
Alexsys: The layout can be the difference between someone sticking with it, or petering out after a couple of months. I’ve had journals that kept me coming back and others I dreaded because the format didn’t work for me. The goal with my layout is to encourage people to consider real, tangible facets about who they are, the way they’re showing up, and reflect on them in whatever way feels right. Though there is a format to guide folks, there is no right way to use this journal. There is your way. That’s it. I encourage people in the opening chapters to be graceful with themselves during the process, and to adapt the journal to their needs. I think that’s what makes this stand out from other products like it.
Between the Pages: Know Yourself to Know Your Readers
Charlotte: How did you decide on what aspects to include in writing a journal, such as the word of the day or magical moments? Were these things you found helpful in your own journaling?
Alexsys: These come from not only my own gratitude practice, but my experience as a professional trainer and Business Certified Coach (BCC). I’ve spent more than a decade working with people on setting the right intentions then aligning their behaviors behind those intentions to achieve the results they’re looking for. Inevitably, it always comes back to filters, or paradigms. How can you view this in a way that serves you? How can you align your behavior behind the best possible outcome in this situation?
The word of the day is something I started early on in this journey; I used to put it on a piece of paper and carry it around with me through the day. At one point, I would put it in a shirt pocket and literally wear it on my heart. It was a constant reminder of what I truly wanted from the day, and to a much larger degree, for my life.
It’s no shock to someone in my profession to witness how often people do things to the detriment of what they say they want. The magical moments have become so important to me, specifically because they remind me that no matter the state of the world, there is still wonder in it. There are still sparkles, glitters, and rainbows among the muck. We have to choose to see it, to highlight it, or it gets buried. It’s also an important connection point to others, as most of our magical moments involve human interaction.
Charlotte: Who did you envision as your target audience for this journal? Did you write a journal with a specific audience in mind?
Alexsys: I believe this journal is for everyone, and I understand the importance of timing. I myself wasn’t always open to this idea, so I understand when people see a book with a bunch of paper in it and are skeptical. So, in reality, though I’d love for everyone to give it a try, it’s for those ready for change. For people who look at the status quo and think, “There has to be something better. There has to be a better way.” There is, and my journal helps people discover what that is for them.
Charlotte: What aspects did you use to engage that audience, such as specific language, tone, visuals, etc?
Alexsys: I used language that is universal, however, some of the phrasing, like “manifesting”, “soul”, and “journey” will click with people in a place to feel the weight of those words.
The Gratitude Practice in Practice
Charlotte: Did you find yourself using the practices and rituals you explain in the journal during your own process of writing a journal, of creating this journal? If so, how?
Alexsys: Yes, absolutely. If an organized person saw my old journals, they’d have a heart attack. I do not “color in the lines.” I practice exactly what I preach, consistently. Not every day, I’m human and I give myself grace, however, over time it has become uncomfortable for me not to express gratitude in some way, every single day.
Charlotte: In this day and age, many people seem to use social media like Facebook and Twitter as their journal. What do you think is the importance of having a hard copy journal that you actually write in? How is that experience different for a person than sending out a tweet of their thoughts?
Alexsys: For one, it’s very easy to get distracted on an electronic device. When Facebook, Twitter, and all your Snapchat friends are a click away, it’s difficult to stay focused and be present. Besides that and my own experience, there is actually science behind it. A simple example is the encoding hypothesis, which posits “…that when a person is taking notes, “the processing that occurs” will improve “learning and retention.” There’s also the idea writing improves creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving. “New research by Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer demonstrates that students who write out their notes on paper actually learn more.” Tweeting out your thoughts is separate from self-reflection and shifting a paradigm. Your journal isn’t for the likes and shares of others; it’s designed for the exultation of you.
The Last Steps: Promoting a Journal Tweet This
Charlotte: What are some things you are doing to promote this journal? How are they different from how you would promote a traditional book?
Alexsys: They aren’t different! I’ve built up a large network over the years, so I’ve reached out to them. I have a social media team and SEO mavens working with me to make sure I’m visible and the message is getting to the right people at the right time. I’m incorporating it into my key note speaking events on gratitude and with my clients when it makes sense. Even though this is non-fiction and it’s an interactive medium, the methods to disseminate products and resources in a global way has become almost formulaic. It’s both a blessing and a curse; guess which way I’ll frame it in my journal tonight?
Charlotte: How can our readers reach you?
Alexsys: The best way is to visit my website and subscribe. The journal is available for presale there, and until October 31, 100% of the profits will go to Hurricane Harvey relief. I lived in Houston for a decade and a half, so I feel compelled to contribute to the community that was and continues to be so good to me. I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Alexsys Thompson is an Executive Coach by profession, however her mission statement of “creating safe places for Souls to show up” is the catalyst for creating this journal. Alexsys has had a gratitude practice for over 12 years and when she is asked about the reason for her success or willingness to pursue a dream the answer always comes straight back to this practice. She is excited to share how to create a gratitude practice that propels you into the life you are meant to live.
Readers, share your questions and comments below. You may also be interested in how Linda Carvelli turned her journals into a memoir, or