“Self-recognition can be the most difficult confrontation in life. But in recognizing the incomplete aspects of yourself, you have already begun the process of changing them.” Tristine Rainer
Re-reading your old journals is a great way to reflect and to inspire changes in your life. Feeling stuck when you want to blossom? Sort, sift, and enjoy your own journey.
As you know, I set this blog up to talk about journaling as a valid tool for healing. Journaling is more than a self – indulgent hobby. Many journal writers are in the helping professions and are themselves, therapists. Some of the greatest writers used journals. What other people think about diaries or journals is inconsequential.
One way to get new ideas for writing prompts for non-fiction essays, memoir, and for fiction writing is to revisit your old journals. Re-reading serves at least five constructive purposes:
• Shows your progress
• Shows changes you made in your life
• Highlights your themes-what are you still grappling with?
• Serves as a springboard for writing
• Inspires ideas for titles
For example, in 1994 I wrote everything longhand. That was 19 years ago. We didn’t own a computer, nor did we have cell phones. I was working two jobs. I had been journaling for 24 years already. My daughter was 17, my son 13.
My daughter was starting to look at colleges and we were figuring out how to fill out Pell grant forms. I was thinking about helping my son get his first skateboard for his May birthday and worrying about helmets.
I didn’t know my best friend would be dead in four years.
During the week of May 5th, 1994, one of the kid’s friends crashed a car because he was driving too fast …bald tires on rainy mountain roads.
From the journal entries of that week I read:
My uncle Bennie died. I ached for losing loved ones. I felt homesick for the land of my childhood.
My kids wanted to go to the movies.
I read the book, I, Tina,
The first actual democratic voting occurred in South Africa.
Nelson Mandela was elected president in South Africa.
All I wanted to do back then was have a day off so I could sleep in. I wrote about my dreams. In my sleep, a wise man, a shaman was laughing at me because I took things too seriously. There was something I did not understand. Now I can look back and learn something from each one of my entries. Almost every page held a teacher or gave me an idea. Reading Tina Turner’s bio was one of the catalysts urging me to work with domestic violence survivors. I learned that I could deal with grief through writing. The dream about humor lead me to find one of my favorite teachers, BearHeart, and his phenomenal book, The Wind is My Mother.
Suggestion: if you journal on the computer, print out your pages and put them in a binder. This way they are easier to read. Turning pages is still something most readers find enjoyable.