Monday 1 October 2012

Journalling School Session 11: Looking back

Welcome to the eleventh session of Journalling School. In today's session we'll be talking about the concept of looking back at earlier journal entries and how this can influence your journalling today.

I often take the opportunity to look back in my journal. I find it fascinating to read my words of - say - five years ago. Seeing a particular phrase, or even a flourish at the end of a word can spark off a Proust-like reverie in which I am transported to the time of writing. Suddenly, forgotten sights and thoughts are recaptured and for a while I can see the past as vividly as the present day.

Other times I look back to the more recent past. Before I write on the very last page of a book I go back to the front and read the first entry that I would have written two or three months earlier. This can sometimes prompt some thoughts about the main events in the period covered by the book. Now and again I will find there has been a significant change in my life that is only appreciable in hindsight and that without my journal I would never have recognised.

So I encourage you to look back and look often, and to write about what you find. Here are some aspects you might write about:

  • What do I know now that I didn't know then?
  • What else do I remember about that time?
  • How have things changed for me since that time?
  • What did I not write about then but perhaps should have?

More than anything, looking back can tell you how far you have come and hint at how much further you might still go. I recommend it highly.

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Pick a date earlier in your journal - perhaps the first entry you made, or one from an important or difficult time. Read your entry and reflect on the questions listed above. Write about the experience of looking back and the thoughts and feelings it has prompted.

That was the eleventh session of Journalling School. Next week's session will be an end of term special, reviewing all the sessions so far. After that session, Journalling School will take a break but I'll set you some holiday homework.

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

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