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Reply To: Finding your story in a time of uncertainty


James and Stephen and Everyone,

Please forgive my absence from the Forum. I know we do not have to feel pressured to hurry and respond to things here and that it can unfold, over time, as Stephen says. But I never meant to be so absent to all the vital conversations going on. I had a lot of computer work to do and after I would get my work done I would feel computer overload or sensory overload with the light on the screen on my eyes. The only media I have been on lately has been quick facebook visits where I was not reading any loner articles or forums or pages. feeling eye strain and shoulder/arm strain. The anniversary forums on dance were wonderful and I had not been back here since until now. I think this topic of writing and journaling and getting inside oneself to then let things out in self-expression is a great reminder in these times of this pandemic, as James says. And I think it so wonderful that Stephen brought up how keeping a journal or diary is not just a fun hobby (with implications to some people when people think of that as being perhaps somehow self-indulgent also as if those who journal should be more “actively” doing something more “important” or pressing with their time (unless one is a professional writer writing for a magazine or newspaper, or who writes books, etc.) as if those who are “not writers” may as well not keep a journal. But unless a person slept in late and is running late for work, what is more pressing than something that needs to be expressed? When expression is repressed, it can become depression. Depression presses down and into the skin beyond the skin-deep layers of being. I think it is a wonderful idea that people write or find whatever kind of expression they find wanting to arise out of them–journals, poetry, song lyrics, musical melodies, drawing, painting–and oh the loveliness of sketchbooks with both doodles and journal notes!–or dancing or singing–any form of expression. What is nice about writing is that we can “talk” to someone else we are “writing to,” so to speak. I also like how Stephen brought up how therapuetic a journal can be. I did not yet get to the pages James suggested in the Art of Living book. Thank you both of you and for the sources pertaining to the ideas you provide here.

For people who think/say “I can’t write!” there is an exercise that writing teachers often use called ballooning. It is a rather well-used exercise for what is called the “pre-writing” stage; it is a good way to get comfortable writing out one’s thoughts or thinking them out first before stringing sentences together. Make a balloon in the center of a page, and put a word or topic in it such “this pandemic” and then draw lines out from it, and then at the end of each short line drawn out from the balloon, write another word/idea that comes out of that word and then circle that one too. Then you can blurt out more that comes to mind about each of those subtopics by making more lines going out to more balloons…Pretty soon, there are circles/ovals all over the page and it looks like some kind of big bang creation on paper. Then if you want you can write a paragraph, a few paragraphs or even a whole bunch of pages out of those immediate thoughts. It is fun for people who are visual thinkers too. It is one form of brainstorming. It isn’t important in a journal that you write the best sentences or use correct spelling and this or that…just that you write. It is a fun exercise for people who say, “I can’t write” and also fun for people who write all the time. You can also draw an umbrella and the thoughts are the lines pouring down from it into raindrops, and each drop is a new thought. Writing students often think they cannot write; but I believe that if you can sit down with a friend over a cup of coffee or tea at a coffee table and express an idea or a story, that you can write. Or, in short, if you can talk, you can write. Again it doesn’t have to be formal–if it’s a private journal, no one else will mind (!) except you! so you may as well get over any imperfections!