I have been using the frameworks in the Module Handbook in order to try out a couple of different styles of journal writing: the first couple of entries are in free form writing: "I did this, I felt like that..." etc as I reacquainted myself with continuous writing (it's sad to notice how little we actually write by hand these days - most communications are typed, and on the rare occasions I remember to send a card or note it's hardly writing an essay!)
I actually thoroughly enjoyed this style! In order to write more 'descriptively' I wrote about my day as though I was writing a first-person narrative. It was a lovely way to write as, at the risk of sounding corny, it made me appreciate the beautiful moments more: things that seemed completely mundane at the time took on a different life.
I think I will write more often in this style - on days where nothing much seems to have happened, writing descriptively opens my eyes to the little things that mean more than we give them credit for and will help me reflect on my thoughts and feelings in the future.
Sample from my 'Descriptive Writing" Day
For this day I kept my diary near me so I could jot down ideas, thoughts and feelings as they came to me. Maybe I chose a bad day as not a whole lot happened: however not very much happened yesterday either, yet the style of writing, in reflection, made it seem a lot more romantic than it was! However, writing as the event was taking place, or as soon as possible after it had happened gave me a lot more insight into my immediate emotions and thoughts that would probably have faded by the time I got around to writing in the evening!
I didn't really like this style: I would adapt this slightly to something closer to my usual style of continuous prose with thoughts and feelings on events mentioned as I remember them from the day.
I made a list of things I had done during the day, starting with waking up! I also made a parallel list of things I had thought or felt as they occurred to me. I felt it made my day seem very set: I have a similar schedule most days so I tend to think and feel the same things as well! "On the train = Commuter Stress..." etc. It was a useful technique to break my day down, however, into 'manageable chunks' and if I had a busier, or more confusing day it would be clearer when looking back.
I would probably adopt this style of writing as it allowed me to make visually clear parallels between what I was doing and the thoughts or emotions this triggered.
I wasn't really sure at first how to approach this writing style as surely evaluation is the result of writing about the day anyway? I wrote relatively similarly to my usual style but tried to look at my actions and feelings more critically and evaluate why I did or said certain things more than I would usually. When I looked at my day in this way it certainly made me see why I react in particular ways and critically evaluate my responses.
After struggling at first with this style, once I worked out a way to make it work for me I enjoyed it - so far it has been the most similar to my usual style of journal writing with more self-analysis thrown in and I feel like this is a good style for me to adopt principally in the future.
Charts and Graphs
This was more fun than I actually thought it would be! When I think of charts and graphs I think of mathematics and science - things that I'm not particularly good at! However I worked on a couple of images regarding my mood, my time, etc. I don't feel like it really helped me look at my day in a constructive way but it was certainly interesting to do!
I don't think I'd adopt this as a main journal style in future as I don't feel it would help me, when looking back, to critically assess my days: while the charts did show my emotions they didn't necessarily reflect why I'd felt a certain way. However it is a new and comparatively useful tool and I may integrate this into my usual journal from time to time.
A Couple Of Graphs and Charts I made during the day
Although the Reader suggests 'you could be amazing' I don't know whether I particularly enjoyed reflecting on my day in this style. Maybe it's just me being pessimistic but I found that most of my "What If's" made what was an otherwise enjoyable day seem like a bit of a let down! For example: "A lovely day browsing the Car Boot Sale with [my boyfriend and friends] but what if I hadn't spent so much money? We could have gone out for dinner in the evening..." However on the other side of the argument I found that I had written: "[my friend] made us a gorgeous Sunday Dinner and we curled up on the sofa to watch our favourite television programme. What If we had just gone home after the pub? It wouldn't have been such a nice evening..."
I don't think I will use this style in the future. My usual writing style already encompasses reflections and re-evaluations, which I assume that is what this form is encouraging. I found that when I tried to think of positive "What If's" they seemed quite far fetched but maybe I just lean more towards the melancholy!
I had an extremely interesting day today as I went into the University for a Campus Session! I chose to write about the day from the point of view of my pen (who was very tired by the end of the evening!) I thought I would struggle with this style of writing but found that it was very similar, in a way, to the 'Description' style: so more like a Creative Writing assignment than a journal entry!
This style did make me evaluate my day from a different perspective but, for my own thoughts and moods I don't know how useful it would be for future reference. I may adopt this style from time-to-time when struggling with my own thought process as it allows me to view the situation from a removed standpoint.
Part Two - Critical Reflection upon a specific day...
I then used the different styles in a Critical Reflection of a specific day: it was a completely normal, routine day and I tried to use all of the different styles to see whether I could amalgamate them all together - I found it very useful to use all of the frameworks together and I felt in enhanced my usual style, allowing me to look at the day, my thoughts, my perspective and critically evaluate the events of the day. Below is an ever-so-slightly edited sample of this days journal entry...
"Today was a relatively normal day: I was in work at the shop I am the manager of, and it was quiet but steady. Working in a small store in a small town it can be quiet for long periods of time which means I am often left alone with my thoughts - it's a good job I enjoy my own company! The village is beautiful though: when I first started there I felt like I was working in an Enid Blyton novel! My walk to work is lovely through tree-lined pathways that, at this time of year are covered in flaming coloured leaves and empty conker husks.(1)
I'm finding that as I get more comfortable with the role of Manager I am able to complete my work relatively quickly, although I still worry that I am making mistakes or getting things wrong: I honestly think that as I've got older I've become more unsure about myself and my abilities. However I'm pretty certain I'm doing okay and I have to let these negative thoughts go. (2)
Anyhow: after work, on the train home, I took out my notepad and pen (that pen has been busy these last couple of days!) and carried on working my way through one of the additional reading texts for the course. When I'm reading things like this I have to have a notepad and pen handy to make notes, scribble down thoughts as they occur to me and raise points for further study - I don't read normal books like this! Could you imagine?! What if every book I read I had to make notes on? I'd be drowning under piles of paper!(3) I read an awful lot, and very quickly, so when I have to actually study a text the only way I can be sure of it sinking in is to make notes as I go along.
Once I was home I was able to type up my notes: I like to do this for a couple of reasons:
* It enables me to get my thoughts down in a coherent manner while they are still fresh
* If I leave it too long in the evening I get tired *When I'm tired I get muddled
* I have more time left afterwards to relax! (4)
While I was on the computer, beavering away at my notes (which don't make any sense when I look back at them) my boyfriend was working on editing some photos of a couple of Circus performers he had a shoot with a few weeks ago. I often wonder what goes through his head when I try and explain my random thought processes: "Oh Crikey, what's she talking about now? She's making no sense but I have no opinion on any of this. I mean, I'm proud of her for starting this course but I actually have no idea what she's talking about! Maybe if I nod, smile and agree with her she'll shut up and let me get on with my work..." (5)
All in all I think it was a pretty good, if quite uneventful day. I got all my work done for my job so everything should go swimmingly for the rest of the week, and I made some headway on the next task for this course, which is reassuring as I felt like I was losing my focus a little before the campus session. I'm enjoying the different challenges I have in my life at the moment and looking forward to the next one! (6)"
A little graph I made for fun, to get them all in there! (7)
(2) INITIAL REFLECTION
(3) WHAT IF?
(5) ANOTHER VIEW
(7) GRAPHS AND CHARTS