Journaling – a Tactic for Writers/Creatives in Difficult Times

17th March 2020

Dear writers and creative folk,

We are going through unprecedented times and many of you will have had your lives already affected by restrictions imposed as a result of national and international Coronavirus health concerns.

In these circumstances, I am taking the liberty of writing an extra “Loveday’s Letter”, to share my thoughts about one good, creative thing we can start to do while we are self-isolating or unable to connect with our friends and family face-to-face. I hope this extra email in your in-box will be welcome. Please forward it to people who might find it helpful. 

That one good thing is to start writing a journal

It doesn’t have to be in a proper book – scraps of paper will do. There’s no need to stop yourself writing because you don’t feel you have “perfect” materials.

The secret of journal writing is to keep reframing things into the positive. Remember this, especially. It’s so easy for us to end up “venting” and slipping into negative spirals, especially when times are difficult.

So – below are some useful journaling techniques that can keep your journaling creative and positive in difficult times. Several of these come from the International Association for Journal Writing which you’ll find is a wonderful organisation full of resources and I thoroughly recommend that you look them up – https://iajw.org/

Eleven Journaling Prompts For Staying Positive

1) Use the following Sentence Stems then write a paragraph each time: “Right now, I’m feeling…” / “What I want today is…” / “The best thing I can do for myself is…”

2) Write about blessings, what to be grateful for, what to celebrate, what to be hopeful about, things that bring joy – to train your thoughts towards the positive

3) “The Pivot”: (1) Vent about whatever you need to vent about; then (2) answer the following: “If I’m prioritising wellbeing, what do I need?”

4) Write for 30 minutes (about whatever you want – personal life, work or creative life), then add a reflection: “When I read what I’ve written, what I notice is… / what surprises me is…”

5) Clustering – do a “spidergram”/mindmap of words and brief phrases – based on what took place yesterday / what you did yesterday (or today if writing in the evening). Find a moment(s) that is positive in this mindmap, even if it is only a tiny thing. Cherish it and write about it in more detail. 

6) After a period of general journaling, move into Lists – “what’s important” OR “what to let go” OR “next action steps” OR “things to remember”

7) Draw pictures & doodle images / Combine images into your journal e.g. photos and collages and cut-outs. Relate your words to these images

8) Listen to a piece of music then journal (it can be music with or without lyrics, up to you)

9) Write a dialogue (like a screenplay or playscript) – for example between you and your body / a body part; you and an older (or younger) version of you; you and your “inner brilliant boss”; between dominant hand and non-dominant hand (=> i.e. the “strong, competent” part of you vs. the “weaker, less competent” part of you)

10) Expand beyond your own life / the immediate concerns of daily life – for example, witness the (past/present) experiences of your family and friends; aspects of culture that you’ve encountered; landscape descriptions and places you’ve visited; communities that you have encountered; favourite or inspiring artists / creatives (and what they represent). Reach out imaginatively into the world. Connect to it through the journal. 

11) Write about your current creative projects – progress / successes, challenges / obstacles, opportunities, new ideas, research discoveries, how you’re currently feeling about the project etc. Keep your creative projects alive even in difficult times. Especially in difficult times. 

Journaling can be an important part of your armoury (along with good food, phonecalls, meditation, walking (if you’re able to), watching films etc etc) in responding to the challenging times we are going through.
Sending positive thoughts across the internet to you all.
Michael

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