Journalling Through a Time of Corona 8

Throughout lockdown, the Government has conducted 3-weekly reviews of our national situation regarding coronavirus, to note any changing trends and make adjustments where appropriate.

This periodic stopping to take stock is a practice that can also help make our words work for us. It’s tempting as we finish a piece of journalling to put our pen down and think that that’s the end of it.  Of course, it’s not good to be constantly looking back at the expense of living forward, but a review can help us identify what we want to take with us as well as what we want to leave behind. It can help clarify our focus as we make plans or set intentions.

When we looked at free-writing a few weeks ago, I suggested an immediate review of what we’d put on the page. But we can also do this at longer intervals  – after a week, month or year, or as we reach the last page of our current journal.

A review entails: a reflective re-reading; writing down in some form what you have noticed and concluding with some sentences on what you might want to do in the light of these insights.  

As you re-read what you have written, you will naturally pick up on different things. But if simply reading your words with no specific agenda feels too vague, you can angle your re-reading by looking out for particular aspects. Here are some suggestions for what these could be:

  • Note recurring words and phrases. What tone do they set? e.g. words like ought/never/should can indicate a judgemental, parental voice. 
  • Do you use intense or extreme words – ‘best’ or ‘worst’ ever? Or is the language more nuanced? Where is is most flat?
  • Are there things you avoid writing about? 
  • What proportion of your writing is focussed on past issues/future wishes/the present? 
  • What changes can you see in your writing over a period of time?
  • Are there issues or problems that you seem stuck on, or repetitive emotional patterns?
  • Can you see any destructive patterns of thinking, perhaps in assumptions and prejudices?
  • Are there any discrepancies between what you write about a person and what you tell them?
  • What ‘voice’ do you have for yourself – kind or self-critical? indulgent, fair or harsh?
  • Do you notice any connections between different aspects of life such as physical ill-health and emotional states or events or relationships etc. 
  • Do you celebrate the good times as well as express the tough ones? 
  • What do you like about yourself from your re-reading? Are there personal strengths that you want to develop? 

You may introduce categories of your own to review, such as work life or relationships, health or a particular problem or project, gratitude or even the details of a hobby or interest. In this case you could plan in advance to use your journal to focus on these things – maybe even under different headings – to simplify the task of reviewing at a later date.

Take a Road Check 

Finally, one exercise for a quick personal review that you can do every week. If you have attended one of my workshops, you will have done this with me at one time or another. 

Choose a road sign that most speaks to you about where you are in your life-journey right now. You can find images of these online if you need to refresh your memory of what’s along the carriage-way. 

Are you going round in circles at a roundabout or round the bend? Do you need to slow down or give way? Do face a choice at a junction or are you going up a hill? 

Once you have chosen a sign (and don’t think too long or hard about your choice), write about what it is saying to you.

This is an exercise that can be repeated regularly – once a week, once a month – to track where you are on your life-journey. It can be fascinating to note how different signs speak for different times.

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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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