If you’ve ever wondered how and why you should keep a paper diary, this post is for you.
It’s a little taster of my 30 day journalling course, with story prompts and writing reflection exercises to get you writing every single day and closer to your dream of writing a book-length memoir.
Why I keep a diary
I’ve kept a handwritten journal since I was 14 and an English teacher sent us home with the exercise to fill two pages. Journalling is a wonderful way to both reflect on what you think and process the day’s experiences. And the material you produce for your journals can actually fuel a published memoir.
I’ve used my journals to write both my published memoirs, and even before that, I journalled my way to my first published essays and pieces. I journal to figure out what I think and to slow down in a super-fast world.
Read on for two prompts from my 30 day journalling course…
Daily prompt : In which we make a comeback
“Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.”
I’ve been thinking about comebacks, how the people I most admire are those who stuck at something even when they failed umpteen times before it came off.
You know when you have a migraine, or are in excruciating physical pain, you can’t see or focus on anything else?
You just think “this is the way life is, now” and can’t even fathom being pain-free. I pulled a nerve in my lower back last year, and it was exquisitely painful even to breathe. I thought that was just my life!
Success and failure are a bit like that.
When you’re pain-free, it’s difficult to even recall such pain.
But that’s how it is with success, too. While I’ve had work published somewhere big, you don’t see all the articles and books I pitched (and wrote!) which were never accepted, which weren’t even rejected – but just met with silence.
There were many times I was face down in the ring, so-to-speak, working at a banal day-job, wondering how to make my creativity work – or even if I should bother to continue trying.
So, today, I want you to consider your own ‘face down in the ring’ moments. When have you felt like you’ve hit rock bottom – through rejection or failure or some other idea or business that hasn’t come off – and journal about it. Write about what didn’t come off, and what you learned from the experience. Was it a creative project? A relationship? A health issue? A career crisis? A financial issue?
Now, journal about your comeback. How did you bounce back? Did you have to lick your wounds before you tried? Write about it.
If you haven’t yet bounced back from whatever it is that you consider a loss or a failure, what would be your ideal comeback? Picture it, envision all the little details about it. What will you see, where will you be, how will it feel?
Write it down.
Writing has a sort of shamanic power to it – from thought to form on the written page, we can bring things into being. Write about your greatest comeback – even if it hasn’t happened yet.
Then, go and create. A word, a poem, a page, a mess.
The powers you have to create from nothing (AND make a comeback) should terrify you! Keep writing, for two pages, and don’t look up from the page until you’ve finished.