February 10, 2014

Creative Journal Writing

When the topic of journal writing comes up, I usually meet two kinds of people: the kind that say “Journal writing is not for me” and the kind that say, “I used to keep a journal but then it got too difficult to write in it regularly.” Journal writing doesn’t have to be chore. It is not something you have to do every day, or even every week. If you do want to incorporate journal writing into your regular routine, try experimenting with different forms of creative journaling. Give yourself a prompt or exercise every day and let yourself have fun with it. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Day 1: Make a list of all the things you did today.

Day 2: Flip open your dictionary, randomly select 10 words and then write a paragraph using all 10 of those words.  

Day 3: In 100 words, describe what you see out your window. (Sometimes it is nice to give yourself a word limit. Then you know you won’t be spending hours on a journal entry.)

Day 4: Cut out pictures from a magazine and paste them to your journal. Make a collage of your favorite images.

Day 5: Do a word association. Begin with Banana and go from there. 

Day 6: Draw an emoticon of how you are feeling, or 10 emoticons of your most common expressions.

Day 7: Create a cartoon character of yourself. Draw him/her and give him/her exaggerated characteristics.

Explore other journal prompt ideas online and look at other people’s blogs to get an idea of what they are writing about. Remember that you can make your journal anything you want.

February 4, 2014

How to Manage Writing Anxiety

Everyone gets anxious about something. Most people are anxious about things they either don’t have much experience in or have struggled with in the past. Maybe you are out of practice with writing, or maybe you did poorly in a previous English class. Even though writing is often graded and evaluated using certain guidelines, writing in itself is a very individual process. Writing is just another form of communicating with others, and everyone does this in their own unique way.

Do you find it easy to express your thoughts verbally? If so, see if you can transfer those verbal thoughts onto paper. Consider getting a tape recorder and vocalizing your thoughts, then listening to a recording and transcribing it. You might discover that writing is easier than you thought.  Even if you do not consider yourself a strong conversationalist, think of some other areas of strength for you. See if you can incorporate some of these strengths into your writing. Are you good at coming up with ideas, organizing them, explaining them in simple terms, writing concisely, summarizing, or researching? Do what you are strongest in and get support in areas that you might struggle with.

Pushing through the anxiety and getting the job done (whether it is writing a paper, taking an essay exam, or writing a college application statement) will make you feel more accomplished, more confident, and more capable.