Léna is also a Regional Manager for Writopia Lab whose mission is to foster joy, literacy, and critical thinking in kids and teens from all backgrounds through creative writing.

"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Writing Hints and Journaling Helps

Salvador Dali desert rocks, BoliviaImage via Wikipedia
I have been asked by Anonymous in Utah to "consider posting writing hints and journal keeping helps," and I am blushing that someone thinks that I would know something about that.

But I do. Of course I do! I'm a teacher, so I don't know where this modesty is coming from.

I am a writer. I write, even when I think I can't. When I think I have nothing to say. Especially then. My Gran always told me that journals are never to be read by other people, so we can feel safe to practice writing. Daily. (Although she has let me read some of her very early journals, and they read very well!*)

I've kept a journal since I was nine - at first, short stories and detailed observations, then my more complex emotional landscape, discovering what I was feeling and working those feelings out. Getting out all the ugliness. Journals are boring to read: I'm mad at my mom, dad, sister, I feel fat, I feel jealous, I feel miserable . . .then chronicling my daily activities, adventures (yet still boring).

In my mid-20's I read The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, and for years I did those morning pages, "emptying out the garbage" as she calls it. After having my first child, I found it impossible to write first thing in the morning, but I discovered that I could turn them into evening pages. Today I do some kind of writing every day, be it journaling, working on my fiction, and now blogging! (In fact, I read somewhere that blogging is the number 1 way to become a better writer.)

As for "hints" and "helps" dear Anonymous, PROMPTS are delicious. For fiction: Get them online, or think of a person, place or thing, and an action. A personal favorite of mine is "The glass shattered . . ." Can you see the infinite possibilities from those three words? Or look at a painting that you love and discover a story in the picture. I love Salvador Dali's Persistence of Memory . . .or a photography book. (Use the photograph above if you like.) Or take 3 inanimate objects in your bag, your house, your car, and discover their relationship. What would they say if they could talk?

For journaling: I am a woman (man) who . . . It makes me angry when . . . I love . . .or write everything about an object that has meaning to you. Use all of your senses.

The world is rich and layered - there are prompts all around us.

But most of all, give yourself permission to write. Give yourself the personal and physical space. Don't be afraid to sound boring!

I will leave you with a prompt for today: She was about to fall off the chair . . .

*Gran stipulated in her will that her journals couldn't be accessible to the public until fifty years after her death.
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  1. Some lovely ideas. Thank you for sharing. I especially like the idea of looking at a painting. I haven't done that in ages. Not much time to slow down and capture the "om" when chasing three kids. Think I need to set-up a date with myself at the art museum.

  2. Excellent directions and guidence here. Julia Cameron also has a diet with writing book out. Have you read it? It is good, but alas, my spread is still here instead of on the pages!!!! :) We are at near a hundred degrees today with index of 103 or so...HOT! Hope you are cooler....

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