Day 16: How can I dive deeper into my writing?
Do you remember learning to read and write?
There were a few basics I feel pretty confident that we all learned.
First, we learned that a sentence always starts with an upper case letter. Then we learned a little about punctuation.
Not long after that, teachers started to encourage us to add more details to our writing. Sentences grew from “I like to play at the park” to “I like to play on the slide and swing at the park with my friends.”
Later we might have added details about the slide being red and that sometimes the sun would heat it up so that it burned our legs on the way down. Maybe we beefed up our story with the deets about mommy holding us while we cried until our legs felt better.
See what just happened there.
Detail is how you go deeper. And at some point in your education, whether it was public, private, or home, you learned about adding details.
In college you may have learned how to write for the academy (not as in “I’d like to thank the Academy…” that came later). You learned what was acceptable for your professors. You learned the rules of the game well enough to earn your degree.
What kind of writing do you do now? Grants? Business proposals? Menus? Emails to your employees or employer?
Do you text or use inner-office message tools? Are you writing for a blog?
How detailed is the writing you do now on a daily basis?
(It’s funny how we write in the simplest of sentences as kids, expand that skillset for years by learning to add details and information, and then often in adult settings, we revert back to short and sweet.)
The lessons we learned as we made our way through school about adding more detail and depth to our writing is exactly how you can dive deeper into your journal writing experience.
Are you a prompt user? If you find that a prompt isn’t stimulating enough, try responding to the original question and then deepening your experience by answering the number one curiosity question of all time: Why?
You can do this with almost any prompt. If you are responding to this one – what is the most memorable Fourth of July you had as a child? – and your initial response is “the year we moved to California” you can deepen this response by answering the question “why?”
Adding more detail to intensify your writing experience is an easy concept. What makes it hard is the training we had about this as kids.
When we were in school and learning to write by adding more, applying rules of grammar and punctuation, and earning grades for it, we could very easily get nervous about our writing.
Writing is personal. It comes from within. Even if you’re researching a topic and dissecting what you read to put into your words, there was still a level of judgment coming down the pipeline.
We would turn in our writing for someone else to review, edit, grade, or give comments on.
What would happen to us as writers when we were writing for another person?
We would start to write for them.
There are few people on the planet who get excited about being critiqued. Or graded. It’s perfectly natural to want a first attempt to be perfect.
So, we hold back and try to write to please another person. And we had years of training in doing this.
Now it’s time to write just for you. No one is looking. No one is judging. There will be no grades assigned.
Your journal is the place for you to write what you want to write. Explore your thoughts, be curious about the world, and process your life experience.
If you want it to be deep and meaningful, you have to write in a deep and meaningful way, but only inasmuch as it serves you.
If you want to write about penguins, do it. If you have a story about the first time you looked through your grandmothers jewelry box when you were a kid, write it down.
It’s not about anyone else now. It’s your time.
Those years of training can be hard to overcome. What it takes is one entry at a time, writing what you feel and to hell with the rules.
In fact, I encourage you to put something in your journal that feels like you are breaking the rules.
Don’t use a period at the end of a sentence
WRITE IN ALL CAPS.
Use rainbow colors.
Or write a dirty word in the middle of a page. (Shit)
I promise, no one will come knocking and you’ll get more out of your journal. Go deep. You’ll be glad you did.
Prompt for today (Writing thoughtful prompts can be challenging; I’m sure some of mine are super lame. But I’ll keep doing it anyway.): Choose a noun (cloud, apple, bear), set a timer, and write for five minutes anything you can think of that relates to that object. Write as much detail as possible. Tell a story about the object you choose, share your greatest fear or happiest moment, whatever feels write (right). Take a deep dive and see what happens.
Like this article? Please feel free to use it on your own blog or newsletter. I simply ask that you please include this blurb:
Sara Marchessault is a coach, writer, and mom who helps busy women use journaling to create more space in their life for being productive without feeling overwhelmed. Visit www.saramarchessault.com to get your FREE Journal Protection Plan and start using your journal to create more joy in your life.