Easter is behind us and it seems like the deadly curve of the coronavirus is flattening. Still, I anticipate many more days of social distancing and isolation. Last week, in my post The Write Time, I shared how writing is helping me cope. Truth be told, it always does.
Over the years, I journaled sporadically. Several years ago, I was confronted with a personal situation that brought me to my knees and to the page. It was important to document events as they transpired and in doing so, I found relief from the ongoing stress. Since then, I’ve filled copybook after copybook. This practice not only relieves anxiety but jump starts my creativity, enables me to clarify my thinking, and calms me down when I’m upset. But, for me, the best benefit is intentionally collecting all the moments of wonder and joy that fill my life. I’m easily able to relive a special anniversary or birthday celebration, the birth of my grand kids, a simple dinner or conversation with my husband, positives insights or the wonder I feel as I walk and immerse myself in nature.
Recently, I gave a workshop on Journaling. Judging from the participants’they left feeling motivated and willing to give it a try. In this unusual time, there are so many reasons to put pen to paper and to encourage your children to do so. To this end, I’ll offer a series of lessons to get you started. Follow this blog so that you don’t miss a lesson and will be eligible for free journal-related give-aways.
START A JOURNAL – LESSON 1
- Choose a Journal Before you start, decide what kind of book you will use to store the wonderful musings you will write. Over the years, I tried fancy little books, replete with pictures and sayings. Ultimately, I found that a regular copybook worked best. Copybooks provide adequate space, both within the lines and on the page and are easy to stack and store. Several weeks ago, I gathered all my journals, labeled and stored them together. I surprised myself when I saw how many copybooks I’ve filled. I tell my only daughter that she can be the curator of them after I’m gone. Here’s what the stack looked like before I put it away…
Copybooks work for me. So does skipping space between the lines. But that’s just me! It’s important to choose something that you love and that suits your particular style. For example, I’m not an artist and rarely sketch in my journal. Many people are talented in this area and choose notebooks without lines. Size is another consideration. Since I typically journal at home, I want a notebook on the large size. You may have different needs.
Of course, you may choose to use your computer to journal. There are studies suggesting that the mind to hand component is important. I’ll discuss that in a later post. However, if using technology makes it easier for you to put your thoughts down, go for it.
There are no “writes” or wrongs (excuse the pun) in this undertaking. Remember it’s an exercise in creativity and meant to relieve stress. You decide what works for you (and your children).
2. Set Up Your Journal
On the first page of my journal, I’ve found it helpful to write the date I begin it and leave a line for the date that I end it. When I return to try to find a scrap of a poem or an important entry, this helps. Also, remember to date each entry with the full date, month, day and year.
Kids love to decorate the cover of their journals and you may enjoy that, as well. Sketches, photos, clippings etc. can turn your journal into a work of art.
Give some thought to your writing utensil. When my pen flows smoothly, my thoughts seem to follow suit. During these days of isolation, I chose to use purple ink to differentiate this time from “normal” life. That will make it easier for me to go back and perhaps find “seed ideas” to bring to fruition.
2. Brain Dump
Okay, enough about the mechanics of journaling. Let’s begin with a simple activity designed to generate ideas and relieve anxiety.
A. Draw a picture of an empty head on the entire page.
B. Jot down words and phrases about things that are “on your mind”
C. Choose one of them and begin to write about it. Don’t overthink this. Remember there’s no right or wrong. Just try to let your pen (or keyboard) go for about ten minutes.
D. Finished? Pat yourself on the back. You’ve completed your first journal entry.
E. Homework: Return to your journal again in the next few days. You can continue with the topic you started, choose a new one from your brain dump or simply write whatever comes to mind. Enjoy!
I’ll be back on Thursday with Lesson 2. Stay well and stay happy!