Sunday, June 8, 2008

Journaling and Writing Prompts

Okay, here's the plan: all six of you who read here regularly probably saw the Journal Series I did a few weeks ago. I really enjoyed doing that, and I'm working right now to put together a curriculum to teach a journal workshop through my local community education program this fall. In my research for this class, I've been looking at the benefits of journaling, and there are so many! Just a few of them are:

* The times of change that we all experience--such as changing a job, a move, a marriage, a shift in family dynamics, a death, an illness--can have a profound impact upon our established routines and lives. Examining these situations in the journal can help us make sense of these events and regain our sense of control and balance as we bring order to chaos.

* Writing is a form of self-expression that is accessible to most of us. We already know how to write, and many of us do it as part of our jobs. Writing does not require special training or equipment, unlike painting or sculpture or music, all you need is a notebook, a pen, and a few minutes.

* In our modern culture where everything is hurry-hurry, rush-rush, writing longhand in a notebook forces us to slow down and enter a more contemplative state of mind...something that's not possible during much of the rest of our lives.

In addition, the journal provides us with a healthy way to release emotions and frustrations, a way to develop and clarify our goals, a place in which to work on relationships and engage in some creative problem solving, a way to help discover your true path in life, a place where we can gain perspective and resolve and heal past issues, as well as a place to record meaningful insights and personal history.

I encourage everyone to grab a pen and a notebook and start a journal right now! And to help out, I'm going to try posting some writing prompts a few times a week (maybe even every day, if you're lucky!). These writing prompts are just a jumping off point, a place to start. You can write the prompt at the top of the page and then respond to it. The writing doesn't have to follow any particular form, and you certainly don't have to stay on topic. Just sit quietly and observe the thoughts that arise in response to the prompt, and then begin writing them down. Don't worry about spelling or grammar, don't worry about writing something clever or polished...this is raw journal writing, it's not supposed to be "good."

If you have time when you've finished, read over what you've written. Make a note of anything that surprised you. Think about whether there were other thoughts that arose while you were writing, things you didn't get to because they were off the track you were following, or you didn't want to pursue them at the moment. Jot them down as ideas for future entries. Perhaps some of them can become writing prompts you can use another day.

Don't forget to date your work--if you look back on your journals years from now, you'll want to know what period of your life those thoughts represent.

Writing Prompt: I am the child of...


Coco said...

Jazz, I like this idea! I'm going to try this online.... I journal to a gmail account at the moment (thanks to your inspiration, I might add). I find I just can't open up and trust enough to write in something someones else could open and read. I may die tomorrow and it would be found! That's just me. Plus I don't find physical writing physically comfortable. My hand cramps and/or I start beating myself up for my handwriting getting messier and messier. Ah, the joys of hangups. ;)

Gianna said...

good for you Jazz,
this is really exciting.
I hope to use your writing prompts at least some of the time...I'm too pooped out to do so right now...but I like the idea...maybe later today!!

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Jazz,
While I already keep a journal, I think this is a great idea. I'll plug it on my blog--as another form of writing to heal. Maybe you can develop a larger group.


Jazz said...

Thank you, all!

Coco--I don't think it matters so much if you are typing or handwriting, as long as you are expressing yourself. I'm glad I was able to inspire you to start.

Gianna--I'll try to post a different prompt every day. My daughter and I are writing to prompts every morning, so I can use those. I'm glad you think they might be useful!

Susan--Thanks! I find that a lot of people aren't sure where to start with journaling...just facing a blank page can be rather intimidating, especially if you don't do much writing in general. Having a jumping off point seems to help.

Annie said...

Jazz- great ideas, I am sure your course will be a success. I get so much out of journaling and blogs. Thanks, Annie