The advice below is excerpted from a piece I published in Inspire Me Today, three years ago.
Since then I’ve had numerous articles published in print and e-publications. I’ve also published my YA, Talent, after starting, stopping, revising, reshaping, and adding new strands for years, and I am almost finished with a memoir about getting married for the first time at age 62 to a two-time widower seeking his third wife on … Craigslist.
None of this would have happened, though, without the benefits of journaling. At the risk of sounding like I am writing in my journal, where anything goes, I am living proof that journaling works and you don’t lose until you quit trying.
Here is some advice for starting or reviving your journal:
Record what matters. No one can tell your story but you.
Who’d be interested? Kids, grandkids, spouses, your siblings who remember each moment differently, and generations you may never meet.
Write as often as you can. Add photos. Remember you’re writing to friends and family who may live a very different life. What do you want them to know about you and the way you lived?
Don’t worry about rules. Your journal—your rules!
Not sure how to start? There are two surefire ways:
One is to start with a sensory image:
I’m writing on my laptop and listening to the muted clicks of the black keys that glow from the light underneath.
I’m at Starbuck’s, listening to the snatches of conversation that whirl around me.
Afternoon sunlight makes the leaves on the ivy outside my window look shiny.
The second surefire way to start is with a sentence start:
- I want…
- I remember…
- What if…
- Today I feel…
- On the best day of my life…
- Love is…
- A year from now…
Where can you find sentence starts?
There are over 200 of them listed in You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers. This isn’t an ad; it’s a resource.
You can also take them off of TV and out of books, but why reinvent the wheel? Don’t let the subtitle fool you. It should be Journaling for Everyone.
Can you reuse a sentence start? Absolutely! It shows your change and growth.
As you’re writing, trust your instincts. Trust yourself. Who do you want to be? How do you want the world to perceive you? What do you want the reader to know? Let those questions guide you.
Want to share your results? Leave a comment here or share it with me through www.writeradvice.com.
B. Lynn Goodwin owns Writer Advice . She’s written You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers (Tate Publishing) and Talent (Eternal Press). Goodwin’s work has appeared in Voices of Caregivers; Hip Mama; Small Press Review; Dramatics Magazine; The Sun; GoodHousekeeping.com; PurpleClover.com; and elsewhere. She is working on a memoir about getting married for the first time at 62.