Monday, 20 August 2012

Journalling School Session 5: Role play

Welcome to the fifth session of Journalling School. Today's session is something of an advanced topic and it won't be for everyone. It is about being someone else for a while.

This idea is inspired by an exchange in the Arnold Schwarzenegger film "Total Recall" (which started life as a much better short story by Phillip K Dick called "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale".) In the film, our hero, Douglas Quaid, visits the HQ of a company called Rekall Inc. At Rekall, they offer a service which implants false memories of a holiday. Rather than the expense and inconvenience of actually going to a place, you can simply remember the experience.

Doug meets Bob McClane there and explains he wants to have memories of a holiday on Mars implanted. Bob outlines a new optional extra:
Bob McClane: What is it that is exactly the same about every single vacation you have ever taken?
Douglas Quaid: I give up.
Bob McClane: You! You're the same. No matter where you go, there you are. It's always the same old you. Let me suggest that you take a vacation from yourself. I know it sounds wild. It is the latest thing in travel. We call it the Ego Trip.
Doug decides to be a secret agent on his holiday, and the film then gets rather weird. But the point is this: you can use a similar trick in your journal. You can write in the persona of a secret agent, or a visiting alien, or a TV reporter, or whatever your imagination can conceive.

When writing, you can think about what your persona would notice or find interesting, and write about that. One of the most effective roles to play is that of a child, perhaps a younger version of yourself, who doesn't understand much of what is second nature to you. You will find yourself wondering about and questioning all sorts of things you normally take for granted and this can throw up some great insights.

Set yourself the task of staying in this persona in your journal for a few days, perhaps for a week, and just see what emerges. You will undoubtedly write about things that would ordinarily never have made it to your journal, and at the end of the 'Ego Trip' you can evaluate the exercise and decide what you'd like to keep writing about even after you drop the persona. 


Take an Ego Trip in your journal. Be someone else for a few days. Write about the things that you normally would, but look through different eyes. Focus on what this persona would focus on and write accordingly. Afterwards, go back and read your entries. Think about what emerged that wouldn't normally find its way into your journal. Which of these elements would you like to incorporate in your regular journalling?

If this is just too weird for you, then reverse the situation. Be yourself and write in your normal way, but write about an imaginary day that didn't actually happen. Imagine a dramatic event. If you like, you can include famous people that you don't know. Write just as if this were a normal day. Afterwards, go back and read your account, and think about what is different in the way you wrote this entry. Can some of this find its way into your day-to-day journalling?

That was the fifth session of Journalling School. In the next session we'll be looking at personal goals and how journalling can help you reach them.

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

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