Post #36 – Memoir Writing, Journaling – Amber Starfire
I have often written that journaling is a good way to gain clarity about your life, and that it helps you to move through and understand emotional issues. If you are new to journal writing, you may be wondering how to go about this process of clarity and understanding, or how writing down what you already know makes anything clearer.
I’ll let you in on a little, three-letter, one-word secret. When you want to move from simply recording the events in your life to understanding them on a deeper level, ask, “How?” (How is also short for, “In what ways?”)
Though journaling prompts typically ask “why,” I have discovered that “how” can be a more powerful tool for unearthing hidden thoughts, feelings, and associations. And a “how” can replace the “why” in almost any question. For example,
- Why How (in what ways) is this event or thought or feeling or memory important to me?
- Why How does this bother me?
- Why How did this happen?
- Why How does this remind me of another time in my life?
Additionally, “how” can be used to form questions that “why” cannot.
- How (in what ways) can I learn (or am I learning) from this?
- How does writing about this event influence my thoughts about it?
- How do I want to remember this day?
- How does my thinking about this event influence my responses?
Increase the power of this journaling tool by using it to drill deeper — continue to ask “how” of any responses you write to a previous question.
Using my first question above, if I answer, “This feeling of anger is important to me because it helps me protect myself from future hurt, and it makes me feel more in control than feeling helpless does,” I will then ask a “how” question for each of my responses. “How does anger help me protect myself from future hurt?” and “How does anger make me feel more in control?”
I might then write, “Anger helps me protect myself because it causes me to be more alert, to be less trusting, and to make sure I always have a ‘Plan B’”. And, “It makes me feel more in control because it gives me energy and helps me to take action.”
Continue to ask “how” questions until your feel that you’ve learned something new about yourself or reached some core emotional truth.
Try this technique, then leave a comment and let us know: How did it go?
For more about ways to journal, writing tips, and prompts, be sure to connect with Amber on Writing Through Life.
Image Credit: Helga Weber