Many of us will be finding that the New Year’s Resolutions are already a distant memory and the familiar pattern of commitment and resignation has kicked in. Perhaps you have started, renewed or continued a writing practice as part of that. Several people have asked me recently:
How can I deepen my writing practice?
It seems a good time to learn, remember or re-activate what I call the Feedback Loop. This is what distinguishes the therapeutic or reflective journal from the purely descriptive. Many people use their journal to remove things from their minds, to excise painful or difficult emotions.
But that is only the first stage (catharsis is not enough!): the therapeutic benefit comes from reflecting and eventually re-integrating the experience.
Journal Prompt 1:
After writing a journal entry read it through (out loud if you can).
Then write a few sentences of feedback to yourself. Select from the following sentence stems:
When I read this I am interested that… ␣␣
When I read this I notice… ␣␣
When I read this I remember… ␣␣
When I read this I realize that…
When I read this I am aware of…
Try this after everything you write for a period of time – see what happens, notice what you learn.
Journal Prompt 2: Repetition. Describe the view from your window every day for a period of time – each time finish
with a Feedback Loop reflection.
And there’s reading…………
One of my students on an ethics course in an existential setting said to me that unfortunately, now that term had started, she was unable to find time to read novels. This seems such a deprivation that I was happy to be able to help her with a couple of relevant suggestions from my recent reading:
Stoner – John Williams (is he an existential hero?)
Me Before You – Jojo Moyes (whose death is it anyway?)
Aren’t there always novels relevant to our work?
I asked a group of colleagues for suggestions of published accounts about or by people with depression or existential concerns. My colleagues were surprised that I would include fiction in my list. But that’s where I start from.
What do you suggest?