Thursday, 21 April 2011

Journal Writing Prompt 19

"Melancholy diminishes as I write. Why then don't I write it down oftener? Well, one's vanity forbids. I want to appear a success even to myself." 

Above quote is from Virginia Woolf's diary. From October 25, 1920. So many years before our time, and yet I bet it would resonate with each one of us. Just look the amount of prompts you have in that one quote. 

Let's break it down. And see how you can use this.

"Melancholy diminishes as I write" - How does journaling make you feel? Does it ease your burdens? Does it give you insights? Does it surprise you? Does it comfort you? How do you feel as you write in your journal?

"Why then don't I write it down oftener?" - Well, why don't you? What stops you from journaling regularly, or frequently? What are the reasons you think are facts? What are the excuses you make to yourself?

"Well, one's vanity forbids. I want to appear a success even to myself." - I don't know about you, but I'm certainly familiar with this problem. It is sometimes easier to use self-deprecating humour or comments to others, but admitting failure to oneself is harder. It may be just little failures, or perhaps just injury to one's vanity. How do you deal with it? Does your journal know the truth about you, or does it know the truth as you want it to be? 

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Journal Writing Prompt 18 - Busy Life / Stress / Responsibilities

Let's face it - this must be one of the most common excuse for not journaling. People have jobs, families, hobbies, and other obligations. Most of the time it feels like we don't even have time to do what we need to do, let alone sit down and journal.

I picked this topic today, because currently I am going through incredibly busy period. That is saying something since my to-do lists are usually a mile long. But usually my busyness is self-made, whereas right now, there are more external factors outside my control. Most of the time my days seem to go in such a flurry of movement that it seems like blink of an eye between beginning of a Monday and ending of Sunday.

But here is the thing - I STILL JOURNAL.

Okay, admittedly I don't write pages after pages on most days. Though some days, I even do that. In fact, when I am incredibly busy it almost seems more necessary, because there are far more things going through my head and much less time to process them. So journaling means taking the time to clear my thoughts, reflect on what I am doing. As I said, I can't do it everyday, but I still manage to capture the highlights of my day.

So here is an assignment for you - no matter how busy you are, take few minutes to write in your journal. Write about your day. Write about what is keeping you busy. If you can't seem to focus on your thoughts because your brain is scattered all over the place, then write about all the things that you are doing, thinking. Even if it is mere fragments of thoughts going through head, and they make no sense. It doesn't matter. Write. Journal. Capture those thoughts.

If you are stressed - what is stressing you out? You may not find all the answers right now, and that's okay. At least you will know the causes.

Responsibilities - are your burdened by them? Perhaps you wouldn't even want to admit that it is a burden. Very well, but you are shouldering those responsibilities nonetheless. What are they? What do you HAVE to do? And now here is the interesting bit ....what IF didn't do it? That's right. Go ahead. Speculate. What will happen? This will either show you the importance of what you are doing (in which case, hurray to you, and feel empowered for having this power over something), or make you realise that you could either stop doing this or delegate it.

So go ahead and journal. Your days may be busy, but make sure that your life is still productively busy, not merely stagnant.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Journal Writing Prompt 17

Keeping a honest journal takes time and effort. I'm not talking about honesty in terms of facts, what you did, what you ate, wore etc. I am talking about honesty of feelings.

How did you feel when various things happened to you? What about feelings you don't want to admit? What if you got so mad at someone you know you really wanted to hurt them? Or perhaps you felt attracted to someone you shouldn't be feeling attracted to? Or maybe you are ashamed of something you have done.

Do you admit those feelings? Sometimes, we don't do it, because writing them would be admitting and acknowledging them. At other times, we don't do it, because we are not aware of it.

Avoidance is easy. Acknowledgement takes an effort.

So today I want you to acknowledge and accept one negative feeling. Pick one negative emotion. Whether it's anger, shame, pain, greed, jealousy....whatever you want.

Pick an emotion and write a letter to it.

Yes...I am talking about ....Dear Anger...

Then free write. Set a timer for minimum 10 minutes, longer if you feel up to it. Start writing. Don't worry about what you are writing. Don't worry about words or grammar or reptitions. Just write.

When you finish the letter, sign it. Seal it in an envelope.

Put that envelope away.

Give it a few days, or even few weeks, depending on how strongly whatever your wrote effected you.

Make a note in your calender, set a reminder in your PC, in your Blackberry...whatever you use. Make sure. Do it.

Set a date. And on that date, open that letter, read it, and journal about it.

Writing the letter was admission of your feelings.

Reading it, and journaling about how you feel as you read it, is acknowledgement of those feelings.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Dr. Who Moleskine 2.0

I decorated my last moleskine with Dr. Who stickers. That's well-worn now, and full of course, so while I am using Jane Austen journal for a bit of a change, I spent some time decorating my next moleskine. Dr. Who theme again :-) So that's Dr. Who Moleskine 2. Totally Love It!! This is going to be my next personal journal, and I can't wait to use it. 

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

The Isherwood Diaries

Now and again I come across a book or an author, and I find myself annoyed thinking, "How the hell didn't I know about this writer before?" Christopher Isherwood is one of those people.
I discovered him just recently, a mere few weeks ago thanks to BBC. There was a dramatisation of "Christopher and His Kind", Isherwood's biographical book. After the dramatisation there was a recording of Isherwood's interview from California. I watched these two programmes, and I was fascinated.

So that weekend I went to the Central Library, looked through the shelves, and found "Christopher Isherwood Diaries Volume 1." This volume 1 is over 1000 pages long, and covers his diaries from 1939 to 1950s I believe. I haven't gotten that far yet.

I got this book from the library, but after reading the introduction and about 150 pages, I know that I will definitely buy a copy for myself. By the time this book begins, Isherwood is settled in America, and has been in a habit of keeping diaries. His diary entries reflect his life - life that to us may seem glamourous where his everyday contacts are authors, poets, hollywood directors. Life that seemed to exist for a lot of people in 30s and 40s who were part of a class which either came from blood or money or sometimes just right connections.

What I find fascinating is the fact that his diaries are about his life, but also about his inner journey. His struggle with himself, to find a deeper meaning in the world, of his confusion, of his relationships. This is a person's life. And what that person is someone as observant and insightful as Isherwood, reading those diaries take on a whole new meaning. They are also fascinating for the observations they offer of other people we may recognize. Imagine a casual observation by Isherwood that Huxley is writing a new novel, called Brave New World, set in an Utopia. You see, as you read this, how their writing, their choices, the beliefs and themes in their books, are reflected by the world they live in and the confusion they face.

I always enjoy reading other people's diaries. I wouldn't dream of reading someone's diary without their consent, simply because as great a temptation as it would, I wouldn't want someone to read mine. So published diaries are a treat. The authors are giving one permission to pry into their personal thoughts, into their intimate details. When these diaries belong to writers, they become even more fascinating for me.

Isherwood Diaries, I am sure will become one of my favourite book ever. Something that I would like to thumb through for a comforting read, or for journaling inspiration.

If you enjoy reading diaries, I strongly recommend this book. And if you have never tried reading diaries, what are you waiting for?

If you have read good diaries, then please recommend those in the comments. I would love to read more.