Monday 6 August 2012

Journalling School Session 3: Restarting a Journal

Welcome to the third session of Journalling School. Today's session is about how to restart a journal after you've spent a time not writing.

When you are in the journalling habit, you tend to gain a momentum that makes it easy to keep going day after day, week after week. But this can sometimes break down.

What happens when you have neglected your journal for a period and want to restart? Perhaps you entered a busy period and your journal fell by the wayside, or perhaps you just lost interest. For whatever reason, you want to make a fresh start.

The thought of cataloguing all that has gone on since you stopped recording your life is likely to be daunting and may put you off starting again. But you might feel that you can’t just launch in again as if nothing has happened either. What I suggest is this:
  1. Take a blank sheet of paper – not a page in your journal.
  2. Divide the sheet into sections by drawing lines. If it’s been just a few months since you stopped, then each space represents a month. If it’s been years, each space represents a year.
  3. Write the names of the months or the years in each space and then write one or two bullet points of notable events from that month or year. Don’t add any detail – just use a word or two or a memory trigger.
  4. Tuck the completed sheet in your journal.
Now, start writing in your journal again regularly. If you have to, you can use a new journal, but I'd recommend you use the old one and just start on the next fresh page, because what you're going to be doing is recreating the continuity, repairing the gap.

Once a week (or whenever you feel like it, or have the time), pick one of your months or years and write up the events as you remember them. As you record your memories, cross them off on the sheet. Before long, there will be nothing left on the sheet and you will be back to journaling in the normal way.

You should also treat restarting your journal as an opportunity. Think about why you stopped. Was it because of an aspect of the way you were journalling? Is this a good time to try doing things differently?


If you have fallen out of the habit of writing a journal, then try the exercise above. Remember what you were hoping to achieve when you originally started your journal. Consider if that is still what you want, or whether you should take this opportunity to journal differently. 

If you've yet to start a journal, and last week's prompts didn't inspire you, try the exercise above. Rather than a few months or years, though, you'll be looking at your whole life. Have a space for each decade or each significant period (e.g. University, newly-wed.) Make bullet notes on the sheet and then start your journal, taking one period of your life each entry.

That was the third session of Journalling School. In the next session we'll look at... well, let's just say it might surprise you.

Feedback, thoughts and ideas are always welcome. Please share your experiences in the comments.


Babs said...

Great post Ray. Hopefully I'll get the time (and inspiration) to start this week (and overcome some personal obstacles in doing so!)

Ray Blake said...

Good luck with that. If you really want to, you'll find a way. said...

Awesome idea! I love that.


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