Friday Five: More Journaling Prompts

fountain-pen-447576_1280It’s time for some prompts to encourage your journaling. As always, the “rules” for journal writing are as follows: paper, fast pen and a timer.

“Paper” doesn’t have to be a pretty journal. You can use loose leaf, bound book, spiral bound or just a composition book, which are my favorite.

Fast pen means that the ink keeps up whenever you are writing. I’ve been using fountain pens. These can be hit or miss so make sure it is working before you begin.

Most phones have a timer and some can be accessed via your computer. The only purpose is so that you don’t have to watch the clock.

Remember, you can do anything for 15 minutes.

Prompts:

1. Start an Abundance list. Learn to see the blessings you receive each day by returning to the list often and adding to it.
2. Name 10 activities that make you feel good about yourself.
3. All endings are beginnings.
4. How are you feeling right now?
5. The funniest thing I ever saw was…?

I hope you have fun with these.

Friday Five: Journaling for Growth

book-758384_1280When I began this blog, I had visions of a blog about all things journaling. I’ve been a journaler since I purchased my first journal when I was about 13 years old. I still remember that book. It was blue satin and had birds on it. There was a slightly Asian theme. I don’t have that book anymore, but I still remember the joy I had of writing down my thoughts and memories.

I haven’t been a faithful journaler though I have always had a journal somewhere in my possession. There were months, even years where I didn’t write a single word. I never gave up on it.

A couple of years ago, I began to write in my journal daily. I have been dedicated to this practice as I have seen change and growth in my life. I’ve blogged about some of those changes. Journaling is one way to make and document changes in life.

I am not the only one who believes this. Julia Cameron, The Artist Way, also believes in journaling. She as a practice called ‘morning pages’ in which she encourages freewriting first thing in the morning. Her recommendation is about three pages of unedited, free flowing words. While this isn’t always easy, it is a great practice.

Sometimes getting started on journaling is difficult. The blank page can be intimidating and beginning is so hard. One way to get past this, until you develop a habit, is to use prompts. I believe I used prompts for the first couple of months. Now, I simply begin with those thoughts I wake up with, or are just on my mind a lot, and go from there.

Today’s Friday Five is dedicated to prompts. I would encourage anyone interested in journaling to use one or more of these. These prompts can be repeated. In fact, one journaling technique I’ve read about and used is to write to the same prompt each day for a week. That is the great thing about journaling. There is no wrong way to fill a notebook.

On to the prompts:

1. What’s great about your life?

2. I remember…

3. My favorite day…

4. Find a photo of yourself as a child. Think back to when you were that age. What did you dream about or hope for?

5. What I am really afraid of is …

My journal isn’t fancy, not for my morning pages. I use ordinary school composition books. They are large enough and lay flat to make the writing easier. Use whatever you prefer. Journals are one of those things that I get excited about when I see though I tend to prefer simple ones now.

For the people I work with I encourage them to begin with a 5-minute timer. You can go longer if things are going well, but 5 minutes isn’t a lot of time out of your day to complete some self-care. Journaling is most definitely about taking care of yourself.

And, it’s important to take care of yourself – after all – if you don’t take care of yourself, who will?

Writing Contest: How has Writing Positively Influenced My Life.

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I am participating in a writing contest for Positive Writer.

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t enchanted by stories.

I read early, when I was 3, most likely going on 4. Books and stories have been a part of my life since before I can remember.

When I was six I wanted to write books. I had no idea what that meant or how to do it. In first grade, one of our assignments was to make a book. Now, I thought that it meant that I would be able to write one and take it home. Can you imagine my surprise when what my teacher intended was that each of us would make a page in a book that she kept? I was so disappointed.

From that point on, writing was big in my world. I liked diaries but didn’t keep them. I kept starting them and being a child in transition, I didn’t keep up with them. The thought was always there.

Getting my first official journal at age 13 was the best thing. I picked it out myself. Silk and turquoise blue with birds, I had that thing for years. Sadly it has been lost to time now. But it did do one thing: I’ve kept a journal since. I haven’t always written but I’ve had a journal, just in case I wanted to.

Writing has been the theme of my life.

Journals helped me to see what I needed to for my life. I still have most of them.

Writing stories was a different beast all together. I don’t remember ever writing stories as an assignment in school. I wonder if that happens now. Would things be different for me today if creative writing had been a part of my education?

The first time I tried to write a story that I remember was for a special assignment. It was still in school but it was for a story to read to the first graders. I think I was in 5th grade. I believe it was a colossal failure. I had no idea what I was doing.

I still have another that I wrote that same year. I was a superhero. Can you imagine?

I stopped the stories for a few years but not the desire. I have several I wrote in high school. Better but still very rough. My friends enjoyed reading them though. It was a mostly positive experience.

I believe it was during this time that I began to hear what many early writers hear. “Writing is a good hobby, but you still have to support yourself.” It was discouraging to say the least.

Over the next 20 years I wrote journals on and off always struggling to get a story out. I took classes on occasion but never made the leap to writing seriously.

An area where writing has served me is when I was pursuing higher education. I didn’t begin college until I was nearly 30, which is a whole other story. I discovered that I could convey my thoughts well enough to get good grades. For those years, nearly 9 of them, my writing consisted of nonfiction, writing assignments. I never suffered the anxiety of writing that other students reported. I, at times, had difficulty starting but once I did, things went well. As I look back, I didn’t feel like a writer even though I was.

During college, I took one creative writing class. It was my first time experiencing so many things. Reading my work out loud and getting feedback was a nail-biting challenge. I even wrote and submitted a cringeworthy story to the school writing journal and it was accepted. I’m still not sure how that happened.

Writing has been a theme of my life. No matter what else I’ve done, writing has been there. I’ve used journals to deal with my struggles. The dream of writing a novel that ended up on the New York Best Sellers list has been the one constant in my life.

So here I am, writing still. Things are different now, I must say. I’ve achieved so many of my other dreams, this appears to be the oldest and yet, most unachieved dream I have. It is time. I have begun.

It has taken me so long to get here, I still consider myself a beginning writer. However, I recently read a statement that said something like, if you have 50 blog posts then you aren’t a beginning writer any more.

This is number 47.

I guess it is time I changed my thinking. Again.

Journaling Rituals

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I journal everyday or nearly so. This is writing I do outside of my novels or flash fiction. I am able to stay clear headed and focused to be able to write everything else through this writing.

Mornings come early for me, 5:00 am. If I can get up without hitting snooze I count that as a win but it doesn’t happen often. After a few snoozes and taking care of basic needs I head to the kitchen for coffee. This is part of my morning ritual as making coffee is a bit involved and takes 10 to 15 minutes. It is also during this time that I do a few morning chores, just to keep up.

Once my coffee is made and perfectly sweetened, I head to my desk to begin the writing ritual.

I light a candle. This, for me, lets me know its time to focus. I then read a section of whatever book I am currently working on. Right now its this one found on Amazon.  Once my reading is done, then I begin with my journaling.

I’ve told you about free writing in this previous post but that is basically what I do. For this writing I use inexpensive composition books and fountain pens with purple ink. I am pretty sure I have stacks of these books in storage.

When I’ve completed my pages and I aim for about three each day, I blow out my candle.

Writing this way doesn’t produce stories or work toward my novels. This creates for me a space where I can clear the junk out, making the way clear for the words to flow for whatever I am working on at the moment.

Just a warning, it doesn’t always work to get the flow going but more often than not, it does.

What do you do when you want to get your creative juices going?

Daily Journaling

writer-605764_1280One of my favorite ways to wake my brain up each morning is to begin my day (after coffee, of course) is to sit down with an old school composition notebook and a fountain pen with purple ink. I light a candle, take a sip of coffee and begin. Though I don’t have a definite goal and I no longer time myself, I generally aim for three pages. It’s as if I am skimming the crud from my previous day off before beginning my creative work. I have built a ritual into my work but that isn’t necessary. If you’ve never used a journal in this way here are some guidelines to use until you’ve built the habit:

1.  Use a timer, either a kitchen timer or this online one ( www.online-stopwatch.com/countdown-timer/ ) for 5-30 minutes depending on how much time you have. I encourage people to start at 5 minutes and work their way up to more.

2.  Use a good, fast moving pen. There is nothing worse than trying to write and find yourself with a pen that sputters.

3.  Start the timer, put the pen to paper and begin. Once the pen goes down, the writing continues until the timer goes off.

If in the middle of your free write, your brain suddenly goes blank, write “I don’t know what to write…” over and over until your brain kicks back in if only to stop the inaneness of repeating yourself. The words will come back. Trust the process.

4.  Don’t stop to edit in the middle of the write.

It drives your inner critic crazy not to be able to correct that word or sentence and is a good thing. Our inner critics have too much power over our words anyway.

5.  When the timer goes off, I strongly recommend that you not go back and read what you’ve written right away.

I believe the purpose of this type of writing is to wade through the junk that is usually clunking around in your brain clearing the way for whatever else you have in mind for that day. You can go back after a few weeks, when you’ve given yourself some space and read what you have written, if you must. For my first words of the day journal, I don’t go back and read them. Most of the time there is nothing in them that is helpful except to see how much I’ve grown. If if find an idea that strikes me, I tend to use in for my other daily habit – writing 500 words, but that is another post.

Some hints:

Free writing cuts out the inner critic.

Topics abound everywhere. I suggest beginning with how you are feeling at this moment or what you had for dinner last night. It is possible to begin creating lists of topics or finding them on-line. Try free writing with the same topic every day for the week and see where that leads your writing.

This is a warm up, brain dump or any other word you’d like to call it and is not necessarily open for publication. My journal contains my private thoughts and normally isn’t fit for human consumption.

Free writing is a good way to work through writers block.

While I strongly encourage using a pen with paper, old school style, it is possible to use a computer. I would suggest trying both to see what works. Each way has its own benefits so don’t worry if one doesn’t work for you. This is an exercise that will help you grow both in your writing and personally.