If you're like me, and your mind either has a gazillion linked ideas, resulting in shutdowns (unable to think, feel, do anything), plus short-term memory impairments, then there are ways to capture things, to use creatively, later. Some ways are journalling and visual arts.
I decided to crack open a journal from 2018, specifically with September in mind. To see if there were other reasons I am quite set on publishing my memoir in September 2023 (so far, that is well within reach).
September 2018 was when I painted Snowball, who became the cover art for my novel, Pet Purpose: Your Unspoken Voice. The painting helped me to focus on completing my goal. I self-published Pet Purpose in 2021.
Journalling as processing
Journalling is one of my many forms of expression. It's no point just ruminating about something and staying stuck in the pain. The key is transformation. Capture insights, creative ideas, symbolism etc. That I might use later, even years later. My creative process drives me.
I will revisit the older journals, for inspiration, when I get back to writing Soar Purpose. Journaling is a fantastic way to capture themes, ideas, anniversary triggers, feelings, sketches etc. I don't usually write in full sentences now, more my own version of colourful shorthand. I now use a lot of colour. I take care to note the date, as it might be relevant, later (the month, or seasonal holiday, at least).
My journals are locked away from prying eyes. Journals are capturing some raw stuff, that I might want to use later. Don't read other people's journals - that's massively invasive and a huge breach of trust. If people don't feel safe to journal, they don't feel safe to express. I advise to lock journals away, anyway.
There's something therapeutic in scribbling something down, or having the freedom to do a sketch or loose mind-maps. When I want to work on my manuscript, I type sections, which I can cut, paste, move around. I still use the written from as an accompaniment. Not sure if this is a reflection if my age (as a teenager, I learned to touchtype on old-fashioned typewriters, before computers were used in schools).
Sometimes, I've burnt my journals. They will eventually be destroyed but in the meantime, they've captured useful things to help me remember, when I'm writing. I'm intending to explore fiction terroritory more than with Pet Purpose (Pet Purpose is actually mostly memoir, with some disguise elements like composite characters and composite scenes).
Snowball was finding her voice
Just doing a quick skim read over a few pages, a few things stuck out from September 2018:
snowball found her voice
I wove the conversation with my psychologist into the story. Relevant extract from Pet Purpose:
Snowball was a composite character, inspired by some of my childhood pets, including Snowy (white cat) and Tommy (a tabby). What happened to Snowball, happened to Tommy.
Photo of me, when I was a child. I was around 9 years old, around 1981, here, with sun-bleached hair and a tan (spent a lot of time outdoors).
1981 was the year a childhood friend died. This friend, 1981 etc kept recurring in themes, songs I recalled etc. Even though I'd shut it down for decades. Kat, in Pet Purpose, is a composite inspired by my childhood friend, Michael, who died from cancer.
I liked to type on the family typewriter, back in the days before electric typewriters. I was the fastest typist at school but I didn't continue with it as I wanted to take other elective subjects instead.
Learning to touch-type has helped immensely with my writing process, although I do hit the backspace key a lot, these days.
I'm currently polishing Bipolar Courage: are you sure you're not autistic? A friend is currently reading it, to pick up missed words etc that both me and writing apps didn't notice (writers tend to see what they meant, not what is there). The friend reports back that it's a compelling read.
It's my best writing effort since Pet Purpose. I have at least one more book left in me (my big goal is Soar Purpose). Some friends have said they would be keen on a book about how I went about writing as therapy and entertainment, with the self-publishing process. This means, paying no body upfront (don't fall for scams, people) - just a small fee from each book, as purchased.
I started something, so might work on that, too, as I took different approaches with my books. The key is not to have it all planned out (with writing or art). Be free to experiment and improvise and see where it takes you.
Note that publishing a book doesn't necessarily mean it's a commercial success. Pet Purpose went to readers in at least a dozen countries. There is so much competition with books, that books will soon be buried under millions of others. It's still been a meaningful journey and some have reported that they've enjoyed my creative efforts.
Disclaimer: the author of this blog is not an expert by profession and her opinions should not be taken as expert advice.