Journalling Through a Time of Corona 3


One great thing about writing is that even if we are physically stuck in one place, our writing is not in lockdown. Although in recent days, the Foreign Office has warned against holidaying abroad, we can still travel with our pens. This week’s journalling suggestions focus on writing about place. 

Before we set off, it can be good to settle ourselves down in the here and now. One way of warming up is to put words to what our senses are experiencing. Our senses are a rich resource for vivid writing. 

Sensory Check-in 

Complete this short list of what you are sensing right now:

1 Something I can see

2 Something I can hear

3 Something I can touch

4 Something I can smell now or have smelt today

5 Something I can taste right now, or have enjoyed today.

This list can itself be a prompt for further writing. It is also adaptable. You could focus on different aspects of one sense e.g. something I can hear now, heard yesterday, would like to hear, a favourite sound a sound I can’t stand, etc. 

Once our focus is grounded where we are, we are ready to roam.


First House 

Our first journey is back in time to the first house we remember living in as a child. If that home is not a place you want to return to, choose somewhere else from early childhood – a grandparent’s or friend’s house, perhaps, or maybe your first school.

Write about it, drawing on all your senses. Write in the present tense to make this writing even more immediate. What is this house like? What is there? How does the light fall? What can you hear? Do you have a favourite room or hidey-hole? 

Are you aware of any sensations arising as you write? Include how it feels in your body to be in this house. Write through your childhood eyes. Be aware of your size in relation to the furniture, of what you can and can’t see. 

Don’t worry about not knowing everything. As you write, you are likely to find that memories surface. These are part of your inner storehouse of experiences that writing can access, and they are unique to you. If, like me, you’ve revisited a childhood home years later, you’ll know that it is is never quite the same. Houses and neighbourhoods change, as do you. But inside you the original experiences is preserved.

Poet Philip Larkin wrote that one quality of being older is ‘having lighted rooms inside your head/ and people in them acting.’ What lighted rooms do you carry in your head?

Re-read what you have written and add a few sentences about insights and feelings you notice from re-evoking that place and time in your life.


Letter to a Missed Place 

The second exercise focusses on a place where we are not, but would like to be. Think about a place you are currently missing, where you look forward to being after this time of lockdown.  It may be a favourite haunt. It may be a new place you had arranged to go on a long-anticipated trip, but have had to defer your plans. 

Once you’ve called that place to mind, write a letter to it. What are you missing about it? Why do you want to go there? Tell this place how you feel, recalling how your senses experienced it when you were there if you’ve been before. Or use a bit of sensing imagination for a place that you have yet to visit. What’s attracting you to that place? What do you imagine it will look, sound and feel like? Explore your relationship with this to-be-visited place. What does it mean to you? 

Tell your place about your intentions, and end with your promise to be there when you can.

Take some moments to reflect on any insights and feelings that have emerged from your writing. Express these in a few sentences.

You could put this letter aside and take it with you or re-read when you do come to visit this significant place. How will the reality match what you have written about today? That could be something else to write about when it happens.

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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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