Make a List by Marilyn McEntyre is a book on how to use lists for journalling / emotional exploration / figuring stuff out, etc. I love this, because if I just do freewriting, I end up ruminating and complaining and spiralling in a not particularly helpful way. Lists limit you as well as getting you to generate thoughts you might not have otherwise got to.
Some of her suggestions for lists to try (the book has hundreds, as well as more broad conceptual themes for what you can get out of writing a list):
- Things I’ve wanted for more than five years
- Concerns about [a particular loved one]
- Things that are no longer useful to me
- Changes I find threatening
- What happens on my best days
- Things I’d like to understand about [viewpoint I don’t understand]
- Things I’d like to know about my bioregion
- Words to describe my father
She’s Christian and that comes out in her writing, but it’s very straightforward to adapt to your own beliefs / lack of beliefs, or just ignore those suggestions. Anyway I recommend the book if either you like journalling-type activities, or you don’t but have always wanted to do more of them.
But you don’t really need a book — just next time there’s something that’s worrying you or confusing you and you might normally journal about it, try setting yourself a list. (Or a more fun list, “things to research” for example.)
This piece was originally published in The Whippet #121 – subscribe to get the next issue in your inbox!
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