Basically, this is my semi-regular reminder that keeping a journal can change your life. Now more than ever I rely on a handwritten diary to give my life context. It’s partly the virus and the way we live now. Partly my fears and confusion about aging and what I mean to do with what’s left of my life. Partly trying to figure out the best way to use my creative ability to make the world a better place. Identity. Infinity. Vocation. Vision. Regret. To be honest, I don’t see how anybody figures this stuff out –  or even makes a stab at it – without a written journal.

Journal keeping

These are painful days, and writing out your pain and fear and rage is powerful. It can also be terrifying – some of us are just managing to Hold It All Together by squinching our psychic eyes shut and I understand: admitting this pain (and anger and feelings of helplessness) could be taking a hammer to the dam in our spirits – the one that is holding back despair. Or. It can be a tool. As the earth seems to crumble under you, your writing can be a rope that you toss to the other side and use to pull yourself to safer ground. I call this “writing through.”

Weekly Journal Prompt

For the rest of the fall I will be sending out a Thursday journal writing prompt to get you jump-started. This week I want you to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and ask yourself:

“Why am I so hard on myself?”

And then write through. Diary hack: it may help if you write in the third person, meaning the prompt is “Why are you so hard on yourself?” You can answer to your imaginary therapist, priest, friend – whoever the Listener is. Just write.

I probably write through this idea at least once a week and it really helps me get perspective on what I can and can’t control. I almost always find that I am doing more and often better than I realise in the moments when my fear, anger, etc., tell me that I am a terrible person, that what I’m doing isn’t good enough. And that gives me enough wind in my sails to stop taking myself so seriously and go another round.

Give it a try. You have nothing to lose but your anger and a little ink.