Journaling Through Uncertain Times

journaling through uncertain times 

Throughout history, we’ve taken to pen and paper during periods of intense and uncertain global and personal events. Whether you're a seasoned diary keeper or are looking to carve out space to record your thoughts, join us in a 4-week journal keeping challenge equipped with weekly prompts, quotes, and inspiration on starting and keeping a journal.

Week Four: You

Australian writer Helen Garner said, “This diary is not the story of my life. It rarely records, for example, untroubled times of happiness.”

For our fourth and final week of this journal keeping challenge, let’s reflect on something lighter, more joyous. Right now there is an incredible amount of grief, both on the personal and collective level. Maybe you’re seeing that reflected in your writings, your thoughts, your feelings. For today, let’s consider enjoyment, let’s consider joy and excitement and fondness.

Today’s format is up to you, it can be long form (like paragraphs) or a bullet point list, whichever you choose, write for 5-15 minutes (or about 3 pages if you choose long form) about your most joyous memory or memories. Perhaps it’s a time where you felt full of love, maybe it’s when you baked an incredible pie and shared it with loved ones, maybe it was the birth of a child or climbing a mountain and finally seeing the view. Write about your excitement, your smile, your sense of freedom. If this memory tracing doesn’t come easily, perhaps it was in a dream or is a future happiness you envision. Your journal is your oyster, let it take you.

Week Three: Amongst the Physical

“My greatest desire—to exist in a physical world.” Jane Mead.

Spend some time in reflection of your favourite place on earth. Perhaps it is a childhood home, or maybe it’s that park by your house, maybe it’s your own kitchen. Maybe your favourite place on earth is a small rock formation at the base of a neighbourhood tree. Maybe it’s the warm embrace of the old chair in your lounge. Maybe it’s the bath or when you’re staring out the window of the tram, maybe it’s not a place but a feeling; when you are loved and appreciated, when you are hugging your best friend. Perhaps, it’s somewhere you’ve never even been but can see it in your mind.

Write for 5-15 minutes (or about 3 pages) and describe in detail this place that is so significant to you.

Week Two: Remembering 'I Am'

“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.” Sylvia Plath.

Sylvia spent a lot of her writing and journal keeping investigating who she was in the world, so for Week Two, the prompt is ‘Remembering I Am’. These uncertain times have been confronting in terms of our personal autonomy; we aren’t able to do the things with the freedom we’re used to. Who are we when our autonomy is challenged?

Take 5-15 minutes (or around 3 pages) to write a list or paragraphs of Who You Are. Here are some examples: I am a person generous with my kindness. I am a baker. I am curious about different types of clouds. I am reckoning with my grief. I am an auntie to incredible kids. I am scared. I am excited. Feel free to keep these short or expand on what it means to be these things. This is about remembering your unique self, always living within you, even during unprecedented times.

New prompts each Wednesday until 3 June.

Week One: ‘Discovering Ritual’

Margaret Atwood said, “Take me to your trees. Take me to your breakfasts, your sunsets, your bad dreams, your shoes, your nouns."

To keep a journal is an act of ritual. Carving out space and time to take to the page is quite like having a tea - we might begin or end our day with this significant gesture.
Consider for yourself what small ceremonies you are able to practice in these uncertain times. Are you having breakfast each day outside, and what’s that like? Are you leaving the bed unmade, and how does that feel? Are you noticing the same neighbours on your daily walk - do you smile or shy-away?
Write for 5-15 minutes (or about 3 pages) about the mundane magic you’re discovering during these uncertain days.

Keywords: new routines, magic in the dull moments, observance, daily practice.

At the end of the day, this journaling practice is for you. It's self-paced, meaning no deadlines, no submissions, no sharing - this is about you! If you're itching to get your writing into the world, check our upcoming events listings for creative writing programs we offer such as The Write-In. Whatever you decide, this journaling practice is for you to engage with your inner emotional world. Consider it a time capsule for your future self.