Starting Points for Journal Entries
A GET-STARTED LIST
A sheet of "permissions" I found some time ago helps keep me from taking myself too seriously as a journal keeper. Its reminders tell me that I can try anything. I can make mistakes. I can take my time. I can do it my way. I can risk looking foolish. I can wait until I feel ready. I can experiment safely in the pages of my journals. I can make a mess. I can even be willing to clean up my messes.
Among my permissions is a reminder that I can "play games" in my journals. I can use my imagination as I play with words. I have a list I call "Other Stuff to Do" that also works as an antidote to "nothing to say" times. A copy of that list is attached.
Remember: The "get started" ideas are simply a brief itemization of the ways in which you can start your own journal-keeping juices flowing in unexpected directions. Once you've discovered the joys of journal keeping, you will find ways that are uniquely yours.
And don't forget -- you don't "have to" write every day. However, you will find that the more often you do a journal entry, the more likely you are to find the greatest pleasure in this form of writing.
And the more you are likely to learn about yourself.
- ASSETS & LIABILITIES (MINE first, OTHER PEOPLE'S second)
- PRIORITY LISTS (with comments added)
- LIFE LISTS (list the events of your life having to do with a
specific theme -- deaths, marriages, children, births,
love and other relationships, education, enemies,
alcohol history, etc. -- the possibilities are endless)
- SIGHTS & SOUNDS & SMELLS
- BOOKS TO READ OR REREAD AND WHY
- WHAT I WANT TO ACCOMPLISH (now, in a year, in my life)
- PEOPLE WHO ARE OR HAVE BEEN IMPORTANT TO ME
- Today at a meeting. . .
- Today at work. . .
- Today my wife (or husband or boyfriend or sister). . .
- Today in class. . .
- Today at dinner. . .
- What if I decided to?
- What if I went to?
- What if I tried to?
- What if I believed that?
STATE OF MIND
- I am happy because. . .
- I am bored because. . .
- I am tired because. . .
- I am angry because. . .
- I am pleased with myself because. . .
- A house I once lived in
- The policeman who didn't arrest me
- My first sight of the ocean
- My first AA meeting
- A time, a place, a person -- what do I really remember?
- A time, a place, a person -- what else might "really" be true?
AN UNSENT LETTER
- Start with a list of people who have been important to you.
- Choose one to write to -- and be honest in your letter since you're probably never going to send it.
- Write to someone who has been important to you and is no longer alive.
- Write to your unborn children or grandchildren.
- Have a two-sided conversation in writing, but be fair -- make the other
person's voice as real as your own.
- Have a dialogue with a part of your own body.
CUSS & DISCUSS
- "Who does he think he is anyhow!"
- But once the anger is out, once the cussing is done, do some
discussing as well.
- What do you really want from that person?
- Ask yourself questions. You aren't obligated to provide answers unless you choose to do so.
- What might you ask?
- How would I change my life if I had only a year to live?
- Where would I live if I could live anyplace I wanted?
- If that's what I want, what am I waiting for?
THE DAILY NEWS
- Violently object to or agree with something you've heard on the TV
or something you've read in the newspaper or in a book or magazine.
- Talk to books, movies, stories, etc. -- talk to the author or the characters as if they are as real as you are.
MAKE STUFF UP
- Visit yourself in the future or in the past.
- Write the story of your life the way you wish it had been.
- Make some marks. Make some more marks.
- Explore in words what the marks mean to you.
- Practice drawing pictures in words of people, places, things (you may make discoveries about yourself)
DREAMS & DAYDREAMS
- Tell about a dream you remember or half-remember.
- Do some daydreaming. Then report it as if it had really happened (this is a great way to "rehearse" a desired result, step-by-step).
- Write a poem, silly or serious. Nobody has to see it if you decide not to
share it. What are you afraid of? It doesn't have to be a work
of art, a masterpiece‹do it for the fun of it!
- Write a fiction, a page-long "story" that pleases you.
FIND A THEME
- In your previous journal entries, do you find anger? Loneliness? Grief?
Excitement? Explore the trend you have discovered.
- Having found a theme and explored it, is it something you want to keep
or to get rid of? Does it belong in a 4th Step inventory list?
CLIPPINGS, MEMENTOS, LETTERS, REMINDERS
- Punch holes in anything you want to keep as a reminder or that you may
want to write about later. Insert into your binder.
- Put twelve blank pages at the back of your journal.
- Number them from 1 through 12.
- As you think of an idea about a particular Step, write it onto that numbered page .
- Some Steps will need more than one page, of course.
And this is just a list of possibilities -- since possibility is open-ended, you will find many more ideas you will want to incorporate into your journals as the years pass.
Again, HAPPY JOURNAL KEEPING!
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