Journaling for Fun

Journaling for Fun

  Writing has always been a function, activity, means of expression for me and my cohort.  When I attended St. Peter’s grade school, we learned to diagram sentences. I loved how orderly diagramming made the written world. I somehow gravitated to a creative writing class in high school. Maude Weinschenk taught us how to write poetry and how to edit everything seven times. In college I wrote book reviews and poetry for the school magazine. Now, after leaving work as a lawyer, I teach grammar to law students who have missed certain aspects of it or whose life and writing is so informal they need to learn how to write in a more formal and correct style. I also encourage my coaching students to keep a journal.

 A recent New Yorker article about T.S. Eliot said that he criticized English writing of his time because the English “use literature as a means of expressing ideas and personal feelings. . . social commentary, or mysticism, or philosophy.”  I’m not talking about literature here, I’m talking about personal, private writing. The value I see in writing as an avocation, as a delight, as a friend, is in expressing our feelings, clarifying our thoughts, having a place to write down things we don’t want to say out loud – fears, hopes, loves – and expressing our creativity. (Sorry, Tom.)

 Journal writing can be therapeutic. My husband, Jim, is in a writing group of cancer survivors. He has led groups like this as well as participated in them. He knows first-hand that writing and sharing with such a group make him feel better as well as help him better understand his experience. Clients who have never used a journal are surprised at how much they like writing on a regular basis. I recommend they get whatever kind of empty book that appeals to them. I don’t like expensive, leather-bound journals because I usually throw mine away when they’re full: they’re so personal and un-edited, just for me, that I don’t want anyone to read them. I like the black and white composition books I get at the drug store. My friend Carolina and I have a pact that if one of us dies, the other will go to her house and destroy her journals.

 Treat yourself. I strongly recommend giving yourself 10 or 15 minutes at the beginning or end of the day to write in your journal. Try it for a month.  It will make a difference in your life.

 [Classic books on journaling: The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron;  At a Journal Workshop by Ira Progoff]

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2 Responses to Journaling for Fun

  1. anne taylor says:

    Journalling is great…you are right…While in Japan my grand daughter and I kept journals.
    It was interesting to see the difference in them. She is 13. After experiencing Japan for two weeks, I tried to think about how the Japanese people feel about life…Most live in high rises, keep immaculate cities (no garbage cans…they pack it all out and take it home), the tightness of their spaces, the graciousness and courtesy of all that bowing to each other,
    the efficiency with which they run their lives…I also would suggest for those of us who are more visual the taking of notes visually…drawing, drawing, drawing so that it is a visual-verbal journal…Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

  2. Laura says:

    This is a great blog, Marilyn. I took a class once on keeping a journal and we read a far-ranging collection of journals from Samuel Pepys to May Sarton. The ones that survive are like a fabric of culture, relationships and an unusually intimate view of a person’s interior life. Unfortunately, I am so undisciplined that I have started dozens of journals and then stray from regular entries due to over-booking my time or maybe just because of my random mental landscape. But my husband and I always do a travel journal of a big trip. It’s so much fun to make an Italian dinner and read again our daily experiences of a week in Rome. We try to add sketches, too, and those lame efforts are the most expressive later on. Why not do it every day or every week? Such an excellent question!

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