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Mari's #WriteON! Journaling Blog

Journal Power: Playing with Words

Posted by Mari L. McCarthy on Wed, Nov 27, 2013 @ 08:00 AM

Journal Power with CreateWriteNowTo my mind, one of the coolest uses of journal writing is playing with words. When you sit down to write something, usually there’s some reason for doing so, something you want to communicate to someone. In your journal, that someone is yourself. Still, you write because you have an urge to share ideas, stories, feelings, and the like. 

Now think about this: before you communicate or share (even with yourself), maybe it would be enlightening to explore more fully the way words – the building blocks of your communications – work, and the extent of their power. 

Most of us use words we’re accustomed to, the words we use in speech and that habitually run through our brains. But if we stop for a moment and let imagination play around those words, it’s fun to discover what we didn’t know we knew. 

So try a session or two of journaling around word play. 

1.  Synonyms – Start with any old word you want. Like, for example, kitchen or purple or homesick. Then write as many synonyms as you can think of, or make up.  For instance:

kitchen – cooking place, hearth, oven, stove, food preparation station, yummy creation room

purple – dark blue, lavender, violet, royal color, work color, sunset, old ladies hue

homesick – lost, afraid, disconnected, sad, lonely, blue

2.  Antonyms – Try coming up with words that are the opposite of what you start with. Such as:

kitchen – bathroom, bedroom, desert, swimming pool, anorexic, fast

purple – black, white, foggy, pink, colorless, drab

homesick – comfortable, secure, loved, connected, confident

3.  Free association – Now let your imagination open to whatever naturally connects to the word as you freely let it roam around your mind:

kitchen – flavors, warmth, work, creativity, memories

purple – velvet, crowns, grandma, veins, grapes, mountains

homesick – nausea, fear, melancholy, Mom, friends, yesterday, the past 

How does this kind of exercise help you? I can think of a few ways it can make us stronger and happier.  

  • It lets us appreciate the world around us more fully. It is no longer just a kitchen, but a locus of satisfying experiences. 
  • It opens us to a wider understanding of our life. Now purple is not just a color (an adjective describing something), but it has become a range of impressions and feelings. 
  • It helps put our obsessions in context. No longer do we simply feel homesick; now we see more clearly why we feel that way and what we might do about it.

You may have thought that journaling was all about your life and experiences, but even more fundamentally, journal writing is about words and the energy that they contain. Play around with them intentionally, every now and then. You’ll realize their power and possibilities, and open up ever more enthusiastically to their inherent magic.


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Topics: journaling, journal writing, words, personal journaling, word association, word play

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Journal Writing Benefits

I started journaling over 18 years ago and soon realized the wonderful benefits journal writing can have.  When I started this blog, it was with the intent to share my own experiences and the incredible health benefits I was experiecing through my journal writing practice.

As things have evolved and I've continued to experience the impact journaling can have on overall  health -  including physical, mental, emotional aspects -  the content here has expanded to cover all the ways individuals can benefit from their own journal writing.  

In addition to sharing my own experiences with journaling, this blog now includes guest articles from other writers - including health practitioners, coaches, psychotherapists and others.

Whether you are an exerienced journaler or new to the practice of journal writing, this blog will provide you with many different voices, insights and ideas to inspire your journaling journey.  

In addition to the personal stories of other journalers and contributors, you'll also find journaling writing tips, prompts, videos and more. 

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