Mari's Journal Writing Power Blog

How to write about very sad and challenging experiences and still leave the reader feeling hopeful

Posted by Mari L. McCarthy on Mon, Dec 01, 2014 @ 08:00 AM

I'm pleased to welcome Linda Appleman Shapiro,our current featured author touring with WOW Women on Writing. Learn more about Shapiro and her memoir, She's Not Herself: A Psychotherapist's Journey Into and Beyond her Mother's Mental Illness



Mari asks, "How to write about very sad and challenging experiences and still leave the reader feeling hopeful?"

I suppose the best way to start to answer your question is to say that I would never want to read a book that was filled only with sad experiences, so it was definitely not my intention to write one.

Although it’s true that some people live lives that are far more painful and difficult to navigate than others (and those whose challenges are chronic are to be commended for whatever ways they find to cope) . . . life, for most of us – even those of us who have experienced significant trauma – still brings good days and bad days, joyful days and sad days. The sun rises even when we may not be able to appreciate its light; the dark of night can seem glorious or dismal.
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Topics: memoir

Reflective Moments in Memoir

Posted by Mari L. McCarthy on Tue, Nov 25, 2014 @ 08:00 AM

by David W. Berner

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Topics: reflection, memoir

Journaling Around Love

Posted by Mari L. McCarthy on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 @ 08:00 AM

The definition of love and awareness of it in your daily life is always a healing journal writing prompt.

And speaking of Baby Boomers, it’s arguable that the single most influential phrase of our blossoming years was the Beatles’ immortal lyric, “All you need is love.” 

It is still such a comforting and helpful idea. Whatever the situation, looking for the love inevitably provides a solution. I don't know why governments and judges and the world at large haven't figured that out yet.

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Topics: journaling, journal writing, love

Donna's 7-Day Journaling Challenge

Posted by Mari L. McCarthy on Tue, Nov 18, 2014 @ 08:00 AM

by Donna Donabella


“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” – Alan Watts 

I am not a good journaler. I don't journal daily. I don't have a regular practice. I have tried, but as of yet I have not been able to fully plunge in. Maybe because to be a good journaler you have to develop a habit, and I bore easily with habits and routine. Maybe there is a fear that I will not have enough to say, or is it a fear of what I might say on the page. 

But no matter the reason I do not journal regularly; I will journal for specific reasons from time to time throughout the year. For instance, if I am feeling the need to acknowledge gratitude, I will keep a gratitude journal, which is actually the longest journal habit I have been able to maintain.

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Topics: journaling, journal writing, 7 Day Challenge, 7 Day Self Discovery Journaling Challenge, Self discovery Journaling

Journaling and Your Legacy

Posted by Mari L. McCarthy on Wed, Nov 12, 2014 @ 08:00 AM

There are many qualities of journal writing that make it ideal for anyone seeking understanding. For baby boomers, journaling may become an indispensable tool for understanding the process of aging. 

A friend told me she felt some guilt over the not-so-great economy and the sharply divided society we’re handing down as boomers to our children. It’s not hard to see her viewpoint. Whether just nostalgically or not, in America people my age remember a kinder, gentler world, where opportunity was far easier to come by. 

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Topics: journaling, journal writing, baby boomers

Journaling to Get Unstuck

Posted by Mari L. McCarthy on Thu, Nov 06, 2014 @ 08:00 AM

by Lauren Persons

It happened again--another night that I fall asleep quickly while trying to read a great novel or movie I have wanted to see for months. I sleep well and then it happens … I wake up, staring into the dark. A heavy weight lies upon my chest, perhaps an elephant.

It is the designated hour for solving all problems of my day, my life, my lack. It is three a.m. What do I do? Where do I start? I can go to a 24-hour grocery store but that would require getting dressed and what would I buy? I am sure it would be a gallon of salted caramel ice cream, and then that would compound my problem.

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Topics: journaling, writing therapy

Journal Power: Opening Up to Dreams

Posted by Mari L. McCarthy on Wed, Nov 05, 2014 @ 08:00 AM

Someone said recently, “Dream as if your life depended on it; because it does.” 

Continuing the discussion about baby boomers and how we are now facing our (ahem) older years, this quote is a good place to start. How many of us in our 50s or 60s or 70s can say we have lived our dreams? And are we still dreaming, or have we put all that aside by now? 

If you lack energy and positivity, if you’re feeling old, if you feel disappointed, or like a failure, it could be because you no longer cultivate your dreams. 

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Topics: journaling, journal writing, journal power, dreams

Why and How Writing a Memoir Evolved from Writing in a Journal

Posted by Mari L. McCarthy on Tue, Nov 04, 2014 @ 08:00 AM

by Jerry Waxler

In this guest post, part of a WOW book tour, a long-time journaler talks about his book Memoir Revolution. Jerry Waxler makes the memoir form of writing seem like an inevitable answer to questions about our psychological, social, and spiritual well-being. What ways do you experience the connection between journaling and memoir writing?


My college years were every parent’s nightmare. Instead of preparing for adulthood, I joined Vietnam war protests, became fascinated by hippie beliefs, and smoked lots of marijuana. For years afterward, my thoughts and emotions continued to race out of control, as if I was recovering from trauma. I tried many techniques to help me find inner strength, including meditation, exercise, and yoga. One of my favorite self-help techniques was journaling. I wrote in a journal for at least a half hour a day, for about 10 years. 

Over time, I realized that I was falling in love with writing. During one of my many job changes, I mentioned my interest to the interviewer at a computer company. I got the job as a technical writer, and began earning my pay by putting together sentences. In my forties, I wanted to move beyond computers, so I went back to school for a master’s degree in counseling psychology. By the time I was fifty, I changed roles, sitting in the therapist’s chair, listening to clients who were attempting to sort out their lives. 

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Topics: journaling, journal writing, memoir

Working with the Homeless

Posted by Mari L. McCarthy on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 @ 08:00 AM

Our latest guest from the WOW-Women on Writing Book Tour shares thoughts about her book and experiences with the homeless. You might want to journal your thoughts after reading this article.

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Topics: journaling prompts, self-improvement journaling

Baby Boomer Blues and Bliss

Posted by Mari L. McCarthy on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 @ 08:00 AM

This post is especially about people of my generation, though everyone will deal with these issues sooner or later. Journal writing is key to navigating what can be a treacherous road as we age. 

No use hiding it: I am an aging baby boomer. And yeah, I know that everyone grows old and every generation must wrestle with the loss of youth. 

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Topics: journaling, journal writing, journal power, baby boomers

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