“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” — William Wordsworth
Whilst researching, writing and now delivering a course on DIARIES & JOURNALING I realise much of my engagement on THE DAILY HAIKU has become a way of keeping a creative diary but in haiku form specifically senryu; often with video and photographs. The theme focus, brevity and emphasis on a daily creative outlet has offered a space that I might not otherwise have made to record my thoughts, feelings and observations. As with more conventional diaries and journals these bite-sized moments experienced in haiku have often inspired other creative work including longer pieces of work often as poems, but also short stories and scripts.
What is it about diaries and journals that make them so appealing? Of course they are places we can reveal our secrets. They are deeply personal, reflective, also practical but aspirational too. They can be highly therapeutic… However there is one defining feature that binds all these eclectic ideas about diaries and journals together. Looking at the start of one of the most famous published diaries illustrates this.
“I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone, and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support…. (a later entry reads) I can hardly wait for the moments when I’m able to write in you. Oh, I’m so glad I brought you along!” This is the opening to Anne Frank’s diary that she kept for 2 years while hiding in the family home in Amsterdam before her tragic death at just 16 in Bergen Belsen concentration camp in 1944.
For Anne her diary was a friend, a comfort, and poignantly her only freedom, a place where she hoped to express her inner most thoughts openly. Crucially this extract reveals the essence of a diary or journal that IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU! Reading back through many of the Interviews with THE DAILY HAIKU members and feedback in the group we also offer that comforting space where you can express yourself and your feelings, always be listened to and supported.
What an extraordinary time we are living in. Millennial Katie Crick on re-reading the diary she kept throughout the last year writes: “The Joy of journaling is looking back on the smaller, less historic moments… It’s more important than ever to capture everyday moments both mighty and miniscule”
When you look back over your haiku during this time what do they reveal? My own show me that I have reconnected with nature but also started to be more open about the death of my mother. Also that I have taken time to be more creative, slow down and notice the world around me. But most importantly they evidence the fact that I am finding time everyday for my creativity.
Salman Rushdie reminds us that we should “Never forget that writing is as close as we get to keeping a hold on the thousand and one things – childhood, certainties, cities, doubts, dreams, instants, phrases, parents, love – that go on slipping, like sand, through out fingers.” Virginia Woolf writes in ‘A Writer’s Diary’ of the importance of revisiting our diaries where our thoughts will have ‘sorted itself and refined itself and coalesced, as such deposits so mysteriously do, into a mould, transparent enough to reflect the light of our life, and yet steady, tranquil compounds with the aloofness of a work of art.” I have certainly been surprised when revisiting my own daily haiku, sometimes for the two weekly round-ups or just for reference. Re-reading and collating favourites reveals new meanings that I may not have realised at the time, alongside the emergence of personal overriding themes.
For me a creative approach to journaling, here in the form of a collection of haiku, feels liberating but also achievable. I can fit it in to my busy day. The wellbeing focus is a really good way to get in touch with my feelings, help overcome some issues with the distinct benefit of sharing with others. Kasee Bailey points out these 5 powerful health benefits of journaling to write yourself to better health stressing their benefits for you PHYSICALLY, MENTALLY and EMOTIONALLY.
- Reduces Stress. A study showed that expressive writing (like journaling) for only 15 to 20 minutes a day three to five times over the course of a 4 month period was enough to lower blood pressure and improve liver functionality. Plus, writing about stressful experiences can help you manage them in a healthy way. Try establishing journaling as a pre-bedtime meditation habit to help you unwind and de-stress.
- Improves Immune Function. Believe it or not, expressive writing can strengthen your immunity and decrease your risk of illness. Those who journal boast improved immune system functioning as well as lessened symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Expressive writing has been shown to improve liver and lung function and combat certain diseases; it has even been reported to help the wounded heal faster
- Keeps Memory Sharp.Journaling helps keep your brain in tip-top shape. Not only does it boost memory and comprehension, it also increases working memory capacity, which may reflect improved cognitive processing.
- Boosts Mood. Want more sunshine in your life? Try journaling. A unique social and behavior outcome of journaling is this: it can improve your mood and give you a greater sense of overall emotional wellbeing and happiness.
- Strengthens Emotional Functions. As journaling habits are developed diarists become more in tune with their health by connecting with inner needs and desires. Journaling evokes mindfulness and helps writers remain present while keeping perspective. Research even shows that expressive writing can help individuals develop more structured, adaptive, and integrated schemes about themselves, others, and the world. What’s more, journaling unlocks and engages right-brained creativity, which gives you access to your full brainpower. Truly, journaling fosters growth.
The Mass Observation Project (MOP) is a unique national life writing project about everyday life in Britain, capturing the experiences, thoughts and opinions of everyday people in the 21st century. On the 12th May 2021 we have Mass Observation day where you are invited to submit diary entries. However if you miss the day you can do this retrospectively. This could be a chance not only to kick-start a wider journaling habit but share your day through haiku. You will be contributing to a really fantastic study which focuses on us as individuals who all see the world differently, have our own thoughts, creative ideas, feelings and experiences. I would really urge you to take part.
I leave you with the final thoughts of Anne Frank “Will I ever be able to write something great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer? I hope so, oh, I hope so very much, because writing allows me to record everything, all my thoughts, ideals and fantasies.” This is what she confided in her diary on 5 April 1944. Her wish did come true, but she herself was never to know that. Anne died in March 1945 in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. She was fifteen years old.” She reminds us to never stop recording our thoughts, ideals and fantasies.
Mass Observation Project
ESF Diaries & Journaling Course Saturday 22nd May 2021 with Amanda White https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/esf-get-creative-cultivate-programme-diariesjournaling-no2-tickets-152247904581?aff=erelexpmlt