Friday, April 04, 2008

Is Journal Writing Are Bad For You?

It is a fair question ... a recent study published in the Journal of Psychiatry suggests that emailing and texting excessively is a new century mental illness. So does anyone know if journalling might be bad for you?

Oh come on now. Surely not. Surely ...
Hmmm ... that thought could spoil my weekend ...

Monday, March 31, 2008

What for determines what style!

Writing a journal without having an idea what you want to get from it is kinda like taking a forest trek without a map or compass and then wondering why you keep going in circles.

There are as many reasons for writing a journal as their are journal writers. What is important to remember however is that the style that you write, how often and what you do with the journal after you have written in it, will all be determined by the reason you were writing in the first place.

Let me start with:
There is no one right way to write a journal.

Then go on to:
Whatever you write, it will have an impact on you in some way, so it might as well be something useful and positive.

Some of the basic journal types are:
Health journals - including exercise and diet dairies.
Well being journals - psychological, social and emotional well being which raise your EQ. Including Sarah Ban Breathnach's Gratitude journal.
Reflective practice journals - for study, pondering life and spiritual matters and your reading or your work and careers.
Creative journals - for all artists and wanna be artists, writers etc. An example is Julia Cameron's Morning Pages.
Recording journals - to record your life, your decisions, aspirations and dreams. These commonly have lists, and charts and photos as well as scribbling.

What you want to get from it will determine how you write, where you write, how often, on what and what you do with what you have written.

If you have been keeping a journal for awhile now, take stock for a moment and think about your purpose. And are you getting there or have you been a little lost lately?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What do I write?

What a good question - for any diarist. But a really good question for students writing reflective journals.

Can I share a really simple framework that works for most journal writing situations?

  • * What happened?
  • * How did you react to this? Feel about this?
  • * Did it remind you of anything?
  • * What could have happened differently? What information would have been/is useful to you about this?
  • * What are you going to do next? (If anything) Or next time?
  • * Answer the question "So What"?
If you cover these basics you really can't go wrong in a general sense.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

So what is reflecting?

Artist: Pat de Groot

As a writer, I often start my own contemplation from a creative perspective. And to begin examining reflection I talked with a couple of painter friends about reflections. The connection between reflection and light is one that hit a chord for me. There is a connection between considering the importance of light in a reflection in nature (or a painting) and the act of reflecting being an act of casting some light on a situation you have experienced.

In talking with these painters I discovered there are other connections to be made. Learning to paint a reflection, paint the impact of light is a basic painting technique learnt by all student painters. When I raise the issue of reflecting with my students, I always link it to being a basic skill they must learn to be able to move on and effectively critically analyse. In a more practical setting in human resources I also always described reflection as a critical skill which practitioners need to practice habitually, to be able to fully develop as a practitioner.

Like the art of learning to paint though, reflection and the casting of light, is not a simple skill to learn. It is not material. It is not simple to describe. It is not solid or shaped.

A lesson from maths reminds us that reflection is a map that transforms an object into its mirror image. It is transformative. It is a mirror image - not a pure image.

In writing, reflection is contemplation with a conscious intent. Observing and interpreting what you observe - and continuing that observation and interpretation on the impact of any event, or even of the reflection itself. Perhaps as endless as light appears to be in masterful painting.

Dear Student: You can see why reflection is not easily taught. Like a student painter though, you can take the tools you have and practice. It is in the practicing that the reflection begins, and moves and grows and takes a life of its own. Remember the last posting - perfection is not part of the journey or the journey's end.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Perfect Reflection?

I'm thinking about my students again ... asking them to reflect on their learning, reflect on their experiences, reflect on their feelings ...

The ability to reflect is such a critical part of the qualification they are completing at the Uni. For one of my units, a reflective assessment has been set for another purpose too - to assist them to do some self-debriefing in what can be endless reading and viewing about the horrors of past historical treatment of marginlised people.

So I am finally biting the bullet. In my own post grad study on tertiary teaching, I have decided to look at the act of reflection. What do we mean when we ask our students to reflect? How does this look as a behaviour and how would it read as an article/journal entry/tutorial.

I thought it only fair to record some of my summary thoughts here as I go.

Defining reflection is obviously the starting point - and while I will be looking at all kinds of philosophical and pedagogical musings on this ... I want to record some early thoughts I have, where I think they might be of some assistance for students ...

My first link to the material world was to think about reflections in mirrors or water ... where a reflection is a copy of another image - and two things immediately came to mind.

In the mirror we see what we choose to concentrate on - the good, the bad, the ugly! Then there are those lovely fun house mirrors which are a great example of how the reflection in a mirror can be distorted for us.

A reflection in nature, say a tree reflected in a lake, or the picture at the beginning of this blog posting, is open for some interpretation too. The reflection is never quite like that of the original picture. While it is close enough to see what it represents, it is never as clear as the original is it?

Dear students: There is a powerful lesson here. Your reflection is just that. A reflection, and not a perfected image of the experiences you are having. Some distortion of the experience and feelings is going to be a part of the experience.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Reflective Journal Writing Resource for Nervous Students

In a previous post I created a link to a useful site for students having to writer reflective journals ... I figure its worth putting it up here again.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A journal ends ...

I may have mentioned this before ... but I never write in the last few pages of my journal .. I just start the new one ... I'm sure Jung would have his say on this.

How do you end yours? Do you hand it on? Name it? File it? Go through and rip out pages or embellish? Do you have a standard "ending" or perhaps even writer "The End"?

We all have our little journal ending's habits ... or maybe you choose NOT to make a big deal at the end ...

I came upon the last words in Swiss Family Robinson in which Father finishes the book with ...

“For the last time my united family slumbers beneath my care. Tomorrow
this closing chapter of my journal will pass into the hands of my
eldest son.”

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Benefits for kids ...

A blank journal is a great gift for kids ...

There are so many benefits to creating opportunities for kids to writer freely in a journal. I would strongly suggest a paper copy diary or journal for primary ages kids ... even for older ones. There are enough excuses for them to be using the technology that comes with computers without adding a new one. There are some cute voice activated journals that offer full privacy that I would have loved to have when I was a youngster.

Skills and opportunities include:
  • writing
  • handwriting
  • reflecting
  • debriefing
  • self directing
  • creativity
  • reading
  • contemplation
  • self reliance
  • imagination ...
The list goes on ... ask any primary school teacher ... so consider the real gift behind giving a journal and pen to a little friend ...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Go inside .... journal quote for the week ...

Some people call journal writing 'ego centric' or selfish and self centered ... who cares?

There are so many healthful reasons to write a journal and I would love to hear your ideas about this ...

For now, I love Christina Baldwin's sense of adventure when she claims ...
"Journal writing is a voyage to the interior."
Christina is co-owner of Peer Spirit and author of journal writing texts such as Life's Companion: Journal writing as a spiritual quest and One to One: Self understanding through journal writing.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Spiritual Journalling

Journal writing can be a rather intrinsic experience. The ultimate for many respondents to my journal writing research was writing a spiritual journal ....

The benefits from writing such a journal appeared to be quite incredible, and experienced on many different levels. The most common theme was the sens of being on a pilgrimage ...I can't imagine any reason why this wouldn't be a deep and fulfilling experience. Here are a couple of sites that you might find useful if you are contemplating such a journal.

And if you want to know more you can always try Ronald Klug's book ...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Designing Reflective Journal Tasks

I admit to waxing lyrical about student journals. I especially admit to finding them difficult to grade - great to read, mark and provide student feedback that is really individual, but difficult to put a numerical value on.

So while I am preparing for the new semester of students which will soon be upon me, I am pondering how to design a journal activity (as opposed to an open journal) for the students. It's for a first year University class, in which we look at some pretty awful parts of history and try to make sense of them with contemporary minds ... thus there is plenty to reflect on.

In breaking down some tasks, it has taken me on a little internal journey examining how it is that I reflect in a journal piece. I know the theory about reflecting, I know how to do it ... but breaking it down into arbitrary steps is another thing.

So I'm taking my time in the design - despite the looming deadlines of the new semester ...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Journal Stolen!

What would you do if your journal was stolen? Would it matter what was in it - or who read it?

Hmmm - that's a new worry isn't it journal writers?

I watched the DVD of Man About Town this week and, and having a stolen journal was a major plot point. Written and directed by Mike Binder, it raises some interesting thoughts for most journallers I am sure!

The main character (played by Ben Affleck) is a top Hollywood talent scout agent, and he has written quite freely in the journal. In short, his journal is kinda kidnapped and held for ransom ... A drama/comedy flick worth watching.

I'm just going to find a good safe place for my journal now ....

Friday, January 11, 2008

How True are You?

Diary quote for the week:

"I tried to keep a diary but writing isn't one of my skills and also there was no way of presenting a true picture.

Charles Dance

Thursday, January 10, 2008

New Writer's Resource Launched

There is a new blog space on the black dedicated to writer resources, musings, creative exercises and guest writer bloggers ...

I am pleased to introduce The Writer's Room to you ...

The blog is by yours truly, but dedicated to the craft of writing more generally than a blog on Journals (in all their exciting shapes and forms) can provide.

Do pop by and have a look - and regular visitors here who are writers are welcome to do a guest blog post if they have something interesting to say!

Freelance Writing Privilege

Every now and then as a write you get the privilege of a contract really worth doing ... one you know could make some small difference to someone ...

I had this pleasure just before Christmas when I was asked to write the dedication for this year's Red Sky Ride, a fundraising event for SolarisCare who provide pretty incredible supports for people diagnosed with cancer.

This year's ride is being dedicated to a young woman Carys Gilbert, who passed on in October 2007 at the age of 17. Her family have shared Carys' story to remind people of the reality of living and dying with cancer in the hope that there will be some donations put forward for this cause.

It was a Christmas present and a half to have the privlege of meeting Carys' family and writing the dedication. Thanks.

Now to the riders of this year's 8-day ride ... all the best! You're all doing a great job getting prepared and I'm sure its going to be tough but well worth it when the donations start flying in.

(c) Pamela Weatherill 2008

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Quote Journal

Chuck Swannell of Burlington County College created a useful classroom exercise based on a Quote Journal. It is worth having a read about - as it had a really positive effect on the students involved in his writing classes and I suspect it could easily be adjusted for other topics at all educational levels as well.

The basic idea is that students are encouraged to find quotes that move them - from films, bumper stickers, books TV etc. and then reflect upon them. Chuck also had students read them out in class each week ... The possibilities for this type of exercise are endless in a number of different subjects and at primary, secondary and tertiary study levels.

Never underestimate the value of journals in teaching!

Friday, January 04, 2008

I was here!

Something I have questioned in my research on journaling is "Why do you journal?"

For many people their responses were based on somehow leaving a record that they were here, alive and lived a life. This is a reasonable deduction to make about human behaviour without any intense research really. In pre-historic times we carved pictures on cave walls, we build structures, take photos, write books, put our foot print on wet cement .... and some of us write in journals, keep visual diaries, video diaries or blogs ... all as ways of saying "I was here".

I understand this desire. I write a blog, keep numerous journals and yes, I have done the wet cement thing and even had a hand in some graffiti when I was a teen ... I actually have no problem with graffiti that doesn't destroy property ... I have worked in youth services and have even created graffiti projects ...


There is always a but isn't there?

Don't destroy the beauty around you to record you were here. It just tells everyone you're an idiot, with little self respect and no respect for the world around you. Who wants to be remembered for that?

This posting is inspired by a visit to the Perth Zoo where some really great conservation work is going on ... and where the photograph above was taken by yours truly ... the gardens at the zoo are stunning ... and this bamboo (as was much of it) is ruined ... for goodness sakes find some wet cerement somewhere or buy a blank book!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Gramma's Diary Has a Home!

Regular readers will remember how exciting it was for the Australian side of the family to get to read my Gramma's diary from Canada ... well the story continues. The diary has been doing the rounds of family and recently returned to me again.

This time it had been with the namesake of its original owner. My sister was named after my Gramma you see ... so she really enjoyed having a read and finding out that they had some things in common. My sister was lucky enough to know and love Gramma (she died before I was born) ...

Anyway having had her turn reading it, my sister made a beautiful box to keep the diary in - hand painted with her folk art. It was SO OVERWHELMING to receive this! It is painted with my Gramma's favorite flower (the pansy) and has a photo of Gramma and my sister (as a baby ) on the top. My sister did a stunning job and I am still feeling really emotional about it. She also wrote out some memories she has of Gramma so I have left those with the diary ... who knows what generations will do with it in the future, but the stories will be cherished, that's for sure.

So Gramma's diary now has a real home ... and is in the pride of place in my office for all to see ... I just hope Gramma doesn't mind us all reading it!

Thank you Esther for such a wonderful gift for ALL the family ...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Christmas Lights are on in Madison

Regular readers have heard about Madison Town before ... it's Stuart's model railway town ... his hobby ... his deal ... but as a writer I can't help but give every little model person a name and wonder who lives where and why the young boy is skateboarding while the other kids are at school ... I see it a little child-like I think ... almost as if it all comes to life when we aren't around.

Of course the other option here is that as a writer I am in need of the men in white coats to take me away too.

What's important, here in the season of Christmas, is that Madison town has its own Christmas lights! Not enough to have lights in our house and yard, Madison had to be all gussied up too!

You gotta love this time of year!

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Christmas Journal

Of course there is such thing as a Christmas Journal! How else do you think Santa keeps himself organised to get around to doing everything on his list?

Christmas Journals are often a mixture between an organiser for the Christmas Season and a perpetual annual journal ... sometimes only used for one year, more often dragged out year after year in December.

Some start as Christmas Card lists in a book, or lists of presents and present suggestions, menus, and shopping lists. Even without ramblings of what went on each Christmas, a book of these simple lists can be enough to bring back the memories of Christmases past.

If you don't want to buy a blank notebook, or can't find one that is Christmassy enough for you, then you can always cover an old notebook in your favourite Christmas wrapping paper from this year.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sex and the City

They say when you are looking for something ... you will find it ... often in amazing places!

During my research for New Century Notebook, there have been plenty of references to writing about sex in diaries.... it's a part of life! Some came from members of the Erotica Writers Association and were linked to erotica writers using the diary form to create stories and adventures. Others were from run-of-the-mill folk who just wrote about sex in their diaries. It often came up as an issue people were worried that others might read about. One woman wrote about a sex diary that she and her husband kept for fun - and to keep their sex life interesting.

As you know I have been looking out for references to diaries and journals in the movies ... and had a little giggle when watching an old episode of Sex and the City ... where Charlotte's doctor gets her to keep a Vagina Diary because she thinks her vagina is depressed ... Typical Sex and the City it was a fun perspective ... but that got me to thinking about people who are asked to keep them for medical reasons ... I haven't had any responses from people in my research who use diaries for medical reasons somehow linked to sex ... So if you are out there please feel free to email me for a copy of my survey - I think this would be a useful inclusion in the book don't you?

Oh and for Sex and the City fans ... the new movie was announced in Australia today ... cool huh?