Writing for myself-thoughts on personal journals (March Post #11)

Slice of Life logoWe are about 1/3 of the way through the month of writing. I usually have no problem with ideas. It is usually the time to write that is difficult for me to find. This year I have the time but not the ideas. They are not popping like before.

The classroom and a school setting provides so much feed for thinking and reflecting. Now my writing turns to a more personal nature since I don’t have 30 students running through my thoughts each day. I did not anticipate that this would be an issue for me.

I realize I don’t write about myself. I write about my students or others with ease. I view the world around me and will share my thoughts about that world. I raise questions but I don’t write about me.

I never was able to keep a diary or journal as a child. The writing never seemed to go anywhere and I could not see the value in that personal account. Who wants to know I went swimming today? ( I wasn’t a very thoughtful child – it was all action and on the go for me.) images

I have kept notebooks for years about my work. I get the value of a work journal. I comb my work journals for ideas, for names, dates and sometimes even for story ideas. There is rich information hidden there.

I know and have read that people use their personal journal in the same way. It is a bit of a marvel for me. It is something I have always wanted but can’t seem to get past a writing wall that I have around myself. I say writing wall because I can easily talk about myself with others. My concerns, loves, experiences and thinking flow quickly and maybe a bit to much when chatting with someone.

So the task now is to turn that active verbal process into a more personal writing practice. I have a feeling this is something that many of my students have had trouble doing as well. When I slow down, and become still my writing mind goes quiet. Does this happen for our students?

I think there are some steps to moving from verbal to written work and I think those steps are going to be personal as well. I am not talking about getting the journal, giving it a name, dating each day, adding the weather. I am talking about what happens in our heads, the thinking.We each must find our own way on this journey of writing.

There is writing about books (good old book report), writing non fiction (research paper) and experiences (memoir), writing fiction – completely creative expression(story telling).  We teach these well. Then there is that personal journey into words that express who we each are.

I am thinking about how I begin that exploration. Also how and when do we help our students learn the “how to” of personal journaling and the value of that type of writing. When is there time in our busy lives to stop and write about ourselves?

I am finding my way there now that I have retired – it is not to late (it is never to late to start writing) but I am sure it might have been helpful for me to have begun this style of writing years ago.

For now, I don’t have answers on how I am going to take my active personal thoughts and get them into writing. I am not sure why I find this type of writing difficult. I am seeking for ways to get over that wall.

I am wondering if you have students who also need help to scale that personal writing wall.

  • How do you help them?
  • Are there tricks?
  • Do you teach personal journaling in your classroom?
  • Is there an age group that this type of writing should be shared with?
  • Is it something we can “teach”?
  • When do you fit this into the whole of a very busy day?

I told you I was good at questions – once I get to writing questions I feel like I have come home! Do you have answers?   Marcy




About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, help in schools and write. Life is good!
This entry was posted in Reflection, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Writing for myself-thoughts on personal journals (March Post #11)

  1. blkdrama says:

    I think these are great questions, but not any I can really answer because I don’t think I’ve ever had trouble putting myself out there and maybe I created that same feeling for my students. I’m sure some kids were not so open but the atmosphere lent itself to sharing the person.

  2. In school I think books really help, because we naturally see bits of ourselves in characters. I find with the ‘slice’ I get fuel from reading others and what they have written. Lately, I am searching so much about what I’m going to be doing next year…that I have the tendency to write it. xo

  3. Tara Smith says:

    In my sixth grade class, we keep writer’s notebooks, and write slices of life on our blog once a week all year long. I am lucky in that my students come to middle school well versed in note booking, and that helps me move n to deeper writing. I think that you gain a facility for this with mentoring and practice – exactly what the SOLSC is all about.

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