Tuesday 18 May 2021

Creative journaling with seagulls - by Lu Hersey

Last week I went on holiday to Cornwall with my partner. A keen kayaker, he was looking forward to getting out on the water, and perhaps doing some fishing for the first time in ages. I wanted to go walking on the cliffs, and hoped for some quality writing time.

For the first few days, gale force winds and constant squalls of rain meant he couldn't take the kayak out. Instead he stuck with me, bored and slightly miserable, constantly looking out at the weather and asking me to check the forecast again, or sitting watching car programmes on TV. 

Meanwhile, I was hoping Cornish internet would be up to zooming. Before we left, I'd been taking part in Jenny Alexander's excellent, five week Creative Journaling course, and the holiday coincided with the final week's instalment. I really didn't want to miss it.

The aim of the course is to help you explore different ways of thinking about journaling and approaches to creativity, and Jenny covers a fantastic range of ideas in the process (if you want to find out more, here's a link to Jenny's website). Anyway, as a taster, you could try out a couple of ideas I picked up, which incidentally turned out to be relevant to the holiday. (These are my versions - the course encompassed far more, far better.)

The first is something I've come across before (even Oprah is a keen advocate).  Simply make a list in your journal every day of three things that you feel grateful for. Whatever you like. As simple or complicated as you want to make it. It can help you feel more positive, even on a bad day.  

Secondly, try writing a journal entry from different perspectives. Chose an emotion to write about, such as 'sadness'. Start by making an observation about the emotion you've chosen, neither good, nor bad. For example: My partner never reads anything I write

Now write about your observation from a negative perspective. How incredibly sad it makes you feel that your partner doesn't ever read your work. Perhaps it affects you so much you lose confidence and stop trying to write anything. Whatever. Indulge the sadness.

Now write the same piece again, but put a positive spin on things. You never have to suffer from non-committal or negative feedback on your writing from your partner, and this frees you to write whatever you like. It avoids any arguments or tensions.  Also, you're part of a critiquing group of writers which is probably way more helpful...something like that. 

The point of the exercise is about exploring different perspectives. To think about how you feel when writing about an emotion in different ways. 

So back to the holiday, and the final week of the Creative Journaling course. If my partner had been taking part (which obviously he wasn't), for the first few days he might have written a few diary entries about the terrible weather, lack of kayaking opportunities, and worries about whether my offspring were looking after the cat properly. His list of positives would probably have included being able to watch Wheeler Dealers on TV and that (according to family updates) at least the cat was still alive.

Meanwhile I was finding it hard to get writing time because the TV was busy blaring out car maintenance tips. On day three, it was still raining, and I gave up trying to write and took the ferry across to Fowey to browse in the bookshop. My partner hates shopping and doesn't like Fowey that much as it's full of shops and there are too many people. But he was bored, so he came too.  Frankly, I was wishing he'd stayed back in the cottage watching Wheeler Dealers - or possibly wasn't there at all.

Then, as we stepped out onto the quay, the sun came out and a seagull pooped over him. I don't know how much you know about seagulls, but their poop is disgusting and there's a lot of it. Sticky brown excrement splattered all down his face, T-shirt and jacket. 

Life is all a matter of perspective. I didn't laugh or take a photograph, even though part of me really wanted to. Instead I kept the grin off my face, helped wipe off the crap and told him getting pooped on by seagulls was supposed to be very lucky. 

The weather improved from that afternoon onwards, and so did the holiday. He went kayaking and I went walking and found some writing time. I even managed to get enough internet to join the last zoom class of the Creative Journaling course. 

And my list of positives for that day included:

My partner never reads anything I write


Lu Hersey

Twitter: @LuWrites


Jenny Alexander said...

What an excellent article, Lu - it made me laugh! Love the photo too. And ps thank you
very much for the lovely mention x

Joan Lennon said...

Thanks for this, Lu - and awesome photo!

Penny Dolan said...

Brilliant post with perfectly captured tensions and turn-around, and I can't help laughing about those seagulls.

Good wishes for plenty more journalling time. Lu, and glad the wifi worked well enough, overall, for that evening.