Absolute Blank

By Lisa Olson (Boots)

I had written this fabulous article about how to show and tell in writing, but I just couldn’t bring myself to finish it. In light of the terrorist attacks in New York, I’d like to talk a little about journaling instead.

Background Image: Cindee Snider Re/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

Overwhelming, confusing, and highly emotional tragedies are a good time to return to your personal journals, or to start one. The blank pages can become a therapist, a confessional, or a padded room. It can become a source of strength and solace as you pour out your anger, your grief, and your questions.

Journals aren’t only for moments of crisis that come from the world around us. Personal tragedy, personal triumph, and even personal growth are all welcome in the pages of your journal or diary. There is no subject that is off limits, no language barriers, and no points taken away for misspellings, bad grammar, or sloppy handwriting.

It doesn’t matter what your journal looks like. It could be the back few pages of your phone book, your word processor, or a fancy leather-bound, gilt-edged tome from Borders. As long as there is paper and you have a pen, you have a potential journal.

When you have some words on the page, add a few pictures. Sketch a memorable moment, or cut out your newspaper headlines and photos, or copy and paste off the Internet. Make a whole collage to express how you felt at this moment, on this day, about this issue or event.

The most important thing you can remember about a journal is this: Unless you say otherwise, the remarks and content are only for yourself. Don’t be afraid to lock, hide, warn off, password protect, or just NOT tell anyone what it is. Just write it all down. Save your feelings and you’ll thank yourself later.

I have three or four pages about the Gulf War in an old binder. My children were babies and I was terrified they would grow up in a world of war. The thoughts on those pages aren’t pretty and they make little sense. If anyone else read them, the garbled messages would confuse them. It’s pure feeling in written form. And I felt a lot better after I vented on the page.

Journaling is a personal and expressive way to open up the feelings you have inside. I urge everyone touched by the immensity of this event to take a few minutes (fifteen, even!) and share their emotions with their future selves.


Some technical notes and ideas:

Microsoft WORD users can copy and paste pictures as well as text within their documents. Simply right click on whatever picture you want to put inside a document, choose “copy” or “copy picture”, return to WORD, place your cursor where you’d like the picture to appear, right click and choose “paste” or “paste picture”. There are function short-cut keys for both copy and paste at your disposal in the usual tool bar, as well.

You can insert pictures from a saved file by using “INSERT” and then “Picture” and either “from file” for those on your computer or “clipart” if you’d rather use Microsoft Clip Art ones. If you choose “from file”, be prepared to dig through the files on your computer to locate the correct picture.

Once you have a picture in your document, you can move, shrink, etc., by double clicking on the item.

For WORD users: To password protect your file, simply choose “File”, “Save As” …then choose OPTIONS (before you save the file). Choosing OPTIONS will allow you to set a password for the document down at the bottom of that screen.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email