Monday Morning Writing Prompt – 8/28/17

One of the books I’m currently reading is Turning Memories Into Memoirs: a Handbook for Writing Lifestories  by Denis Ledoux.

In the second chapter is a section called “Dealing With Pain”. The author acknowledges that:

  • The very act of writing about a painful experience can generate relief from pain. In a sense, your paper or notebook becomes a confidant, an ideal listener. Writing is an effective way of assuaging your pain and sometimes freeing yourself of it once and for all.

  • Perhaps you can begin to approach your pain by writing around it. For instance, if the death of (a loved one) is still too difficult for you to write about, you might try writing about when your first became aware of the signs of illness….Eventually, like peeling an onion layer by layer, you will come to the center of your grief–and of acceptance and understanding.

  • Writing your lifestories is not intended to be emotional or psychological therapy or a substitute for such work under the guidance of a professional psychologist. Yet lifewriting sometimes conveys benefits very similar to therapy.


When I worked at the halfway house, journaling was encouraged as a major coping skill when dealing with difficult issues. I would tell my clients that their journal was their “cheap, portable shrink”. I would also offer to allow them to shred anything they had written, if they had privacy concerns, as the process is the important part, not necessarily the product.

Ledoux continues with a writing exercise for painful memories:

  • Identify a past experience that is painful to you–either because it was a loss, or an unresolved interaction, or because it caused you shame. Try writing a few sentences about the experience. Write for as long as you feel comfortable.
  • Now switch to writing a few sentences about what you will gain by exorcising this painful experience. Write about how it would feel to have your pain gone.
  • When it feels right, continue writing about the painful experience until you feel you need to stop again. Allow yourself to return to this subject whenever it comes up for you until you have laid it to rest.


These are good guidelines for dealing with painful memories. If you find yourself overwhelmed by the process, though, it would be better to put it aside until you can continue under the guidance of a licensed counselor.


Time, Time, Time

Time 2017-08-25 08.15.17
Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping….

In Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Wayshe talks about starting the day with three pages, in long-hand, of stream-of-consciousness writing in order to prime the pump of creativity. Which is all well and good if you have unlimited time. My morning schedule allows time for journaling OR other writing–not both. I love journaling and my “Morning Pages”, as Julia calls them, and I’ve been banging my head on the wall o’ time for years, trying to rush through journaling and still have time for other writing before I have to get ready to go to the job that actually helps pay the bills.

The last three days, I’ve chosen to write blog entries, which makes me feel productive as a writer, but now my brain is starting to feel antsy on the edges because it hasn’t had the freedom of unfettered pencil time. Since my affirmation practice is part of my morning journaling process, no affirmations over the last few days, either. And now I have all the song lyrics about time in my head, just one example of the clutter daily journaling helps clear out.

I pretty much have about an hour each morning. I guess I need to set up an alternating schedule of journaling and blogging/writing so neither side is neglected. Except that I hate strict schedules. Maybe there’s an affirmation for that.

Still Writing, Still Crazy

Pencils 2017-08-23 07.14.44
Jar o’ retired pencils, proof that I’m writing something

I started a new blog at the beginning of this year about being the caregiver for my mom, a part of my attempt to write my currently crazy life a little more sane. It’s helped, but as her care needs ebb and flow, so goes my writing time.

I’m still journaling regularly, still writing morning affirmations. And lately, thinking about this blog and how neglected it’s been. It occurred to me that, if nothing else, I could share links to writing and journaling articles that I find interesting or helpful, hopefully both.

With that in mind, I offer this link from Omtimes e-zine to an interview with Julia Cameron, who got me (and many other people) on the path of morning journaling through her book, The Artist’s Way


Music To Write By

When I was in college, I used music to help me study. Unlike some hardcore rock-and-rollers, though, my study music had to have a calming tempo and no words, like Bach or Native American flute or Celtic harp. I eventually expanded that to include Enya because the music was smooth and the vocals unobtrusive. When I’ve needed music to drown out the TV during writing time, these have been my stand-bys.

Recently, though, I started wondering what other people were writing to, and put “music to write by” into Google to find out. The first link I clicked through on (and the only one so far, since I’m still exploring the site) is Writers around the world have put together mixes of varying lengths and loaded them for others’ inspirational pleasure. Over the past few days I’ve listened to some really nice indie music that I would have never run across otherwise, and found that the increase in tempo in some of the songs really increases my writing flow. I also have realized that part of why I no longer listen to commercial radio is not only the annoying commercials but also that I just don’t have the patience to listen to sad, depressing songs anymore. Me and Carly Simon FTW.

Still Journaling

decorated journal 9.16.14

Even though I haven’t been posting here, I have still been writing daily. It is what helps keep me sane (hence the title of the blog). I’ve also been playing with collages as a form of journaling and decided to jazz up my current notebook a little bit. I bought some clear adhesive shelf liner to protect the cover, since my notebooks get knocked around a bit on my desk and in bags with other books and other stuff.

Visual Journaling

Visual Journaling: Going Deeper than Words is the book I’m reading/working through now during my morning journaling sessions. I’m terrible about reading workbooks like this and then never actually doing any of the exercises, (and there’s several I’ve skipped over in this one, too) but I have found the “check-in” exercises useful and interesting.

You are directed to close your eyes, take several deep, calming breaths to relax, and essentially ask your body, “what’s up?” Then notice what part of your body your attention is being drawn to, think about how that feels, and then draw something that represents that feeling. As you progress through the book, first just getting used to the process, then working on identifying the meaning of the different parts of the image, you eventually open up a dialogue between yourself and the image you have produced.

The most interesting one in my journal so far came after I had done a color/chakra meditation prior to my journaling session, producing this:

Heart-Voice 2014-08-07 09.11.13
Connect with your heart to find your voice.


In the “connection” part, my attention was drawn to my throat, which the chakra meditation advises is represented by the color blue. But at the bottom of my throat area, I felt a heaviness or a pulling, which I translated into the brown brace underneath. As I continued to play with the pastels, the brace became more pointed at the bottom, like it was being weighted down. In the chakra meditation, the heart chakra is represented by the color green, which became the green circle. But it felt guarded and restricted, and I added the darker green “protective barrier” around it.

Even as I was finishing the drawing and putting the chalks away, I was thinking about how guarded I am with my writing, afraid to give offense, afraid to expose myself, and how this image seemed to embody that, with my “voice” being weighted down by my guarded and heavy “heart”, and how in order to find my voice in my writing, I would first need to break through the formerly-protective-but-now-obstructive barrier that guards my innermost thoughts and feelings.

I’ll let you know how that goes….