Writing Prompts

Word Prompt: Vision | Story Prompt: from the book “Expressive Writing: Words That Heal” by James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D. and John F. Evans, Ed.D.

‘When Writing To Heal was published in 2004, it was the first journaling book that was rooted firmly in scientific research. What drew me to it was my own need for healing, my hope that after all my years of teaching and studying academic writing that I might find something that would allow me to write my way out of a serious depression.

After reading just a few pages, I discovered why my own writing hadn’t been helping me. I was stuck in a never-ending cycle of rumination — telling the same story over and over. There was no arc in my story; it was a flat line. Then when my story arc turned starkly downward, I knew it was killing me from the inside. Writing To Heal explained why I needed to write a new story in a new way.

Pennebaker’s book provided me a way to work out the most troubling events in my life, but in a way I had never done before. The writing assignments provided a life-course correction by helping me bring closure to painful childhood memories, recall experiences from my youth with a more positive perspective, and get beyond the emotional turmoil from my own adult mistakes.’


About fifteen years ago, one morning on a GO train between Barrie and Toronto, I picked up a journal and pen, and began to write. Yes, now I had the time, but there was more to it, even if I didn’t admit it to myself then. Writing helped me to capture the whirlwind of thoughts I’d been having and preserve them on paper. In hindsight, even though my journaling remained very inconsistent for the next five years or so, this was the start of my “writing for wellness” journey. Writing things down, honestly and uncensored, allowed me to look back and see where I’d been. To see that I was, in fact, not spinning in circles. I was actually making progress – slow progress to be sure, but progress, nonetheless.

Here is my very first journal entry:

“April 23, 2008 – Hello new journal. Welcome to my life. I hope you can help teach me about myself. I promise not to rip out any pages, because that would mean I am judging my thoughts. I will just accept my thoughts for what they are: a part of me, in a moment of time. I want to be able to collect my thoughts, my goals, and sort them all out to understand myself better. I want to grow. To improve and be the best me I can be, so I can share the best me and help others around me. I hope… I have many hopes – if I can start with myself then that will help my hopes to take form and become real. The more I can help myself, and accept myself, the more I can be a better person. Thanks. I just wanted to say, thanks. I don’t know what kinds of stuff I’m going to put in here yet – I think I need to be able to trust you first, journal, because I never felt I could before. I’m really going to try.”

Do you journal? Are you thinking about journaling? Thoughts? Feel free to share them here.

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