This post forms part of a serialisation eventually building into a complete reference on Creative Journaling and the writer's notebook. One that will demonstrate how to journal in order to improve creativity and effectiveness of artists, writers or anyone needing to be creative.
This is a journaling word game that asks you to confront and rationalise your own strong emotions in a safe manner. It is a short game, played in two parts, and is perfect for filling the slightly longer gaps in your busy day.
How to play
Think of a word or short phrase that you don’t like and causes you to feel aggrieved or irritated. This may be a big issue such as “legalised rape” or something lighter such as “shops stocking Christmas too early”. As long it raises your ire, it is a good choice.
Open your journal at two clean pages and use your word or phrase as the title on the top of the left-hand page.
For a minute or so, just study the word or phrase and consider what it is about the word or phrase that annoys you. As you do this, read the word or phrase out aloud so that you can easily hear it. Do not read it quietly or mumble it under your breath. Reading it aloud forces you to engage your muscle motor functions and your hearing (I will explain this below).
Next start to freewrite on the left-hand page about your feelings on the word or phrase until the page is full. Whilst doing this, write as fast as you can and do not stop, do not make any corrections, and do not worry about grammar. Just keep your pen moving, keep writing words, and don’t stop until the end of the page. If you run out of words, write “I have run out of words” again and again until new words start to flow down your arm.
Once you fill the page, read it aloud back to yourself and circle any words or phrases that stand out. Again, don’t read it quietly or under your breath, read it aloud to yourself as if delivering it to someone across a table from you. Feel free to write in the gaps, draw linking lines between circles, add arrows or doodles.
Finally write an essay entry on the right-hand page about the initial word/phrase using the thoughts and emotions embodied by the circled words in the previous prose.
"..after I had written a lot and figured out a lot of thinking, I could go back and find order and reassert control and try to make it good.”
Peter Elbow, “Writing Without Teachers”
The purpose of the game
The game uses a combination of strong emotions and flow of consciousness writing to draw out harboured emotions and thoughts on to the page where they may be observed dispassionately. Often we are not fully aware of why we feel the way we do about things and this game allows us to move into full awareness of ourselves.
The game outlined above is being played with the strong emotion of distaste but it will work with any emotion that you can hold in focus; trust, love, wonder etc.
The first part of the game expects us to select a word carrying an abstract emotion. We are also required to read the word aloud, the action of which causes far more mental activity since the mouth, ears and muscle motor controls all have to be involved. This extra activity stimulates far more areas of the brain than ones involved directly. We then put the logical-mind ‘on-hold’ by using focused freewriting to portray our feelings and emotions on to the page. This allows us to draw from the creative-mind the main and secondary associated emotions connected to the word/phrase.
Having collected these, we then highlight the most important points (to us) and request the logical-mind to consider and rationalise them in a journal essay entry.
Have you played this game? If so, how did it work for you? I would love to hear about anyone’s experiences of playing this game. If you have, then please tell us in the comments area below.
Photo credit: Aaaaah!!!, by Jon-Eric Melsaeter.
"Journaling word games: Write about a word you don't like" by Andy Shackcloth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.