Journalling Through a Time of Corona 7

This is the seventh week of journalling prompts I’ve offered since lockdown started in what feels like way back when…After around 6 weeks, any novelty of the experience has worn off, and we may feel we’re facing the weariness of same old, same old. One of writing’s great qualities – alongside its capacity to help us find words to nail down the extraordinary – is that it can also help us to make the familiar fresh and re-inject a sense of discovery.

An oft-quoted insight of the French writer Marcel Proust is that ‘the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.’ 

I just have one prompt this week, so as not to tire us all out even more! And this one is the challenge to take a fresh look. 

Take a Fresh Look 

Whether your daily exercise walk takes you round a garden at home or further afield, or you are off to the local shop again for those essentials, your regular routes will have become increasingly familiar. 

Well before lockdown, Yorkshire poet Ian McMillan has used his daily morning walks to look for something new, and tweet something he’s noticed (see @IMcMillan). He challenges himself to find creative words for something different each day. Why not follow suit, be intentional about tuning in your senses and open to a fresh encounter on a well-worn trail? 

Instead of walking past that patch of wildflowered grass or treeful of blossom, take some moments to observe them closely. Pause on your way and simply listen. How many layers of different sounds can you hear? 

As you walk along that same road, pick out something particular to focus on – doors, windows, skylines. Or stop and simply look up at the sky. Walk your regular route the other way round, or at a different time of day, and see what you notice. As you stand in the supermarket queue, resist the temptation to take out your phone for a scroll. Just look around you.

On your return, journal what you’ve observed. You might want simply to write a few descriptive or reflective sentences from the prompt ‘What I’ve noticed today…’ Or you could focus your observations in a short poem, in a form such as a Haiku. 

A Haiku is a traditional Japanese 3-line poem which traditionally comprises a first line of 5 syllables; a second line of 7 syllables and a 3rd line of 5 syllables (a syllable is a unit of sound) The Haiku is a snapshot of words that distills some aspect of nature or a significant moment. 

Writing a Haiku can be calming way of focussing our attention. Even if you’re  not able to bring your reflection down to the absolute precision of 17 syllables, writing three short lines can provide challenge enough.  

If you want to find out more about the Haiku, and how it has become a fashionable international form, take a look at this 4-minute Youtube introduction to ‘the world’s shortest poem’ here . It’ll whet your appetite for having a go! 


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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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