Journalling Through a Time of Corona 10

This the tenth of a series I started as a way of offering some support for those either starting or wanting to carry on journalling through this unique and unanticipated episode in our lives. But with the sense of things moving on around us, this will be the last piece for now. This week I want to pick up on some questions that a newcomer to journalling asked me in a recent telephone conversation.

The person had found themselves writing down thoughts and feelings, and reflecting that they would not have written with such depth on Facebook. It was the sort of writing they wanted to continue and they had some questions about it.

1) Why do people start journalling – and why might they stop?

There may be many answers to that one. Some people, like me, are naturally drawn to putting things down in words. I can’t remember when I didn’t have some sort of journal on the go from teenage years onwards. Sometimes I have stopped for a while. Perhaps life has become busy and the journalling habit has drifted. But then usually something kickstarts it again – perhaps a problem I want to process on paper. Sometimes people choose to journal through a particularly significant time – from an illness to a holiday or new project or season in life. They want to remember it and/or navigate their way through.

2) Should I journal every day? 

You don’t have to be rigorous about this, but it helps to write regularly. I have non-negotiable set time each week for a personal review. In between I might write every day or on just a few days. Some days I write more than others. The beauty of having a journal with empty lined pages where I date each entry, is that it is not like a diary that tyrannises you with the date already standing over the blank space.

3) Should I share what I write?

Journal-writing is primarily by you and for you, and it’s absolutely up to you what you make known and what is for your eyes only. You might want to trust the right someone with some personal writing on an issue where you need some support. Your writing may also be a rehearsal to help you work out how to approach someone in a difficult but necessary conversation. You set the boundaries between what is private and what is disclosed – and in what form.

New journallers can feel uncertain about how they should do it. But we need to relax and resist any ‘hardening of the oughteries.’  Your journal is unique to you as you discover the techniques and practices that serve you best.

This week I’ve made a bit of a mess in my journal. I generally write neatly and continuously, but over the Bank Holiday I was doing some personal planning. There are scruffy lists, crossings out, linking lines and neater lists – of priorities, of promises I’m making to myself. At one stage I turned two pages ahead by mistake and created a gap of blank pages, then filled in with a later train of thought. I remind myself that my journal tracks my journey in progress, which can often be untidy. But it’s been quite refreshing to break the mould. This patch of writing looks so different, I won’t have any problem finding it when I need to refer back to it. So, one suggestion for your journalling this week is to 

Break a Taboo

Write about something you don’t usually write about. If you never write in lists and headings, try it. If you always write like that, try some continuous free-writing. Write with your other hand, in another colour. Turn the page sideways on and write about something you want to see from a different angle. There are many possibilities, but have fun and do something a bit different. After all, these times are taking us where we have not been before. 

I am now shaping an online six-session online journalling course to run over the summer, for those who want to start up or freshen up the journalling habit. More details to come within the next week on my website and Facebook Page. Let me know if you want to join me. Meanwhile, happy journalling!


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  • About Julia


    From writing stories for my younger brother, to penning poems for the School Magazine and filling a growing pile of personal journals, the written word has always been part of my life’s journey.

    I started out as an English Teacher and subsequently retrained as a Counsellor. I have counselled in a GP Surgery and worked with various Employee Assistance Schemes and Charitable Trusts alongside seeing private clients.

    Although I have done some freelance journalism and written four non-fiction books, creative writing has become my main focus in recent years.

    My poems have appeared online on sites including Amaryllis, Silver Birch Press, Clear Poetry, Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis, Riggwelter and Ink,Sweat and Tears. I have been published in Curlew and Bucks Mill Magazine, and anthologised in Our Hearts Still Sing. My first poetry collection, Chester City Walls, came out in 2015.

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