Staying Sane

journalsNow we’ve got to the letter ‘J’ in our weekly creative writing prompts/exercises, I can’t let pass this opportunity to encourage you to keep a journal.

It is something I’ve done for ages, not least because keeping a journal is recognised as being good for your mental health. And of course, it can be good writing practice.

But if you are new to this, where to start?  Here are a few suggestions:

Cultivate a favourite pen and notebook and a place where you can write undisturbed. At the end of the day is a good time – make journaling part of your bedtime routine.

Set yourself a time limit so you don’t feel too daunted at the prospect of a long writing session.

Ten minutes is a good starting point. Have everything you need close to hand so you don’t have to go hunting for supplies just as you’re feeling creative, particularly if you want to include cutting and sticking or artwork in your journal. Wasting five minutes looking for scissors or a red pen is not conducive to creativity!

Get into the habit of writing regularly. Daily is best, but don’t beat yourself up about missing a day or two.

Find a way of keeping your journal PRIVATE, for your eyes only.

What can you write about? Here are some suggestions for the coming week:

Day 1: How has your day gone? What did you do? Who did you see?  What did you watch on TV or listen to on the radio? What’s your all-time favourite film/TV/radio programme? Why?

Day 2: What did you eat today? Did you cook? Did you follow a recipe? Describe your way of peeling potatoes or boiling rice. Did you ever dig fresh potatoes – what did they taste like? Who else was there to enjoy (or hate) them? Were you in good humour today? Yes or no – why?

Day 3: Write about what you are wearing today. How long have you had those shoes/boots? Who gave you the umbrella/bag/pen? What’s the story to your shirt/jumper/cardigan/dress? Do you always wear those colours? Which colour is your favourite? Who else do you know who likes that colour? Is your choice influenced by a parent, sibling, cousin, friend, other person or occasion? Do you have a favourite piece of clothing? Describe your physical self as if to a criminal investigator.

Day 4: Was there anything in the news today that caught your attention? Did it make you happy or angry? Describe why. How does what is going on in the world at large affect you? How do you feel about current affairs?

Day 5: What time did you get up today? Is that typical? If you went somewhere, describe the journey, the route, the weather, the company. If you didn’t leave the house, describe your house/flat/place of abode – from the outside. What colour is the front door? Is there a garden? How long have you lived there? Do you remember the day you moved into your first home as an adult? What happened that day?

Day 6: What would your mother/sister/aunt/best friend have said about what you did today?  How does that make you feel? Was what you did today typical of this day of the week? Describe your parents, what they look(ed) like, their beliefs, their interests. Have you grown up like them at all?

Day 7: Still with family as a theme, recall the kitchen of your childhood. Take a trip around it and describe what your mind’s eye sees. Now take a tour of your present kitchen. Describe the implements, the crockery, the design and colours. Remark on the differences between past and present. Are you happy or sad to recall the past? Why?

And there you are, a week’s worth of journal keeping – and remember, anything goes because no-one will see what you write in your journal, unless you want them to. And your future self will be fascinated to read about the way you were this week.

Call back next week for another creative writing prompt/exercise. There’s a new one every Wednesday at 5pm, Dublin time. There is more on what this is all about here.