Narrative writing is a skill all students must learn and all writers must master—whether you write memoir, fiction, or non-fiction. Daily journal-writing can be a fun way to build this skill, but anyone who has ever kept a sixth-grade diary knows the learning and development as a writer can be lost if one falls prey to the tedium of day-by-day. In “Journaling Without Tedium,” Ruth O’Neil, writing for writermag.com this spring, listed some journaling topics any author could mine for future projects. Here they are:
Write down memories from your childhood. Write about things children say and do. Write your prayers. Write down family stories that you have been told by older relatives.
O’Neil includes ideas to help mold your journaling into finished articles and stories, and shares tips for organization. For example, she keeps a separate journal for each kind of journal-writing she does; that way when she wants to go back and find something she remembers writing, there are not so many unrelated entries to scan.
I have found journaling to be a valued method of exploring and learning from experiences, emotions, and ideas. And if you ever go back to read what you’ve written, you can trace the arc that has made you who you are today.
Keep a journal. Play with your words. Dig deep. Describe in detail. You may even find you feel saner and calmer for having done so.
P.S. Check out the other journals I have collected on Pinterest—Search “Deborah Zigenis-Lowery” or “Journals”
It’s nearly June. Young adults are graduating from high school and college. Teens and schoolchildren are looking forward to the end of the school year and summer. Couples are getting married. It is a time of year marked by milestones and achievements.
Write about a day in your life when you felt proud. Don’t just say you felt proud, write the story of that day. What led up to this moment when you rightfully felt you could pat yourself on the back? What did it take to get there? What part of your achievement do you feel best about?
Tell the story. Include who was involved, what happened, when and where this took place, and why it mattered to you.
The moment can be as simple as shooting your first basket, baking your first cake, receiving your Boy Scout Eagle rank, or earning your PhD.
When you are done, share your narrative with your writing partners. Compliment each other on the strengths you see in one another’s writing. Call attention to turns of phrases or details you particularly enjoy.
Share your narrative as comment. Everyone can use a little inspiration.
For pre-readers, get out a pen or pencil and some paper. Sit down together. Talk about what it means to be proud of something. Then ask the child to tell you about something he or she is proud of. Ask questions. Write down all the child’s responses.
When you are done, read back what he or she has said, pointing to the words as you say them to reinforce the one to one correspondence between written and spoke word.
Leave some room on the paper, or get out an extra sheet, for the child to draw a picture, paste a photo, or create a collage to go with the memory.
Write the story of this experience. Where were you? When did this happen? Who went with you? What did you experience? What impact did this experience have on you? Feel free to use all the techniques of fiction. Establish the setting, flesh out the characters, describe the conflicts or issues involved in the experience, use dialogue and recount your thoughts.