People have often asked me how I decide what to write, day after day. I’ve been journaling since I was a little girl of around nine years old. Some years, I am more prolific than others. Never once have I wanted to write and found myself without something to write. Never. I cannot imagine the moment when I touch my nib to paper and nothing flows. That would be a strange day, for it seems to me that would mean I have stopped thinking.
Writing, to me, is simply an extension of my thinking, and thinking is something that I do constantly. From the moment I wake up in the morning until I drift off to sleep, I am aware of thoughts. I would suppose that is consciousness. No? And as long as I am conscious, thoughts occupy my mind, thoughts that deserve and need to be explored. And writing comes easy. It is my constant companion, and I feel fortunate for it. It has soothed and comforted me. It has provided me with solace and the opportunity for reflection. It has given birth to seeds of wisdom that I can call my own.
As I am about to step back into my classroom, as a writing professor, I have put on my teacher hat. I’m wearing it right now, as I write this, and I am thinking about how I will inspire my college students to want to write this semester. So many of them do not see the value in it. But you do. You want to write, but sometimes some of you just don’t know where to begin. Begin anywhere because your life is a magnificent story filled with unbelievable characters, who are embarking on magnificent adventures and facing down monsters. Some characters are heroes and others quite villainous. And like with all good stories worth reading and writing, there are morals and lessons to learn. In your writing, anything is possible.
Here are ten of some of my favorite topics and questions to guide you in your September journaling. I often revisit many of the same topics and themes, over and over again. Each time my writing takes me somewhere new, deeper, providing me with greater insight or new questions. It’s all about self-discovery, and we are ever-evolving.
- If you were a superhero, what would your superhero name be? What would your superpower be and what would you do with it?
- Write about a time in your life when you did something that made you proud of yourself? Acknowledge just how amazing you are.
- We all have a story that we don’t want anyone to know. It causes us shame. Shame is poison. Please allow your shameful self to have a dialogue with your most compassionate self. Your critical self is not invited to this meeting. Remember this: There is nothing in this world that cannot be forgiven. Forgive yourself.
- Make a list of five people for whom you are great and the reasons for your gratitude.
- Write about the thing that scares you the most, and then visualize experiencing that thing. In other words, imagine it happening. Call upon your courageous self in your visualization, face this fear. What do you do to overcome the fear?
- Write a compassionate letter to your younger self. Be kind and compassionate, sharing the wisdom that you know now, but didn’t know then.
- Write about a great olfactory memory. When my father used to bake peanut butter criss-cross cookies...I can only remember him cooking those in our first hours. We moved from there when I was 10 years old. So, memories of that cookie scent bring me back to a very specific time and place.
- Write about a descriptive piece about someone who is or was very special to you. Describe them, in addition to writing about what it was that made him or her so significant.
- Write about where you’d like to be five years from now. Dare to really think big.
- Write an apology to someone.
Have a magical time transitioning into autumn. Happy writing.