Remember when you were in elementary school and your homework was to read and write about current events? A common assignment was to flip through the newspaper, cut out an interesting article, glue it to a piece of paper and write a short report on it.
Even if you don’t have fond memories of past homework assignments (who does, really?), this concept is a great way to breathe some new life into your journal writing routine. Now that you’re all grown up, you can choose any topic that interests you and write whatever your little heart desires.
Journalism Meets Journal Writing
1. Pick up a copy of your favorite newspaper or magazine and skim articles until you find one that strikes your fancy. It can cover a serious topic, like Occupy Wall Street or education reform, or something lighter, like Kim Kardashian’s divorce or the current NFL season. Choose one that you are genuinely interested in and excited to write about (in other words, don’t select a piece on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when you really want to write about “Dancing With the Stars”).
2. Read the article thoroughly a few times until you are familiar with the narrative. Cut it out and paste in your journal. Jot down a few notes in your journal, covering the 5 W’s: who, what, where, when and why. This part doesn’t have to be extensive, just a brief recap of the highlights.
3. Now go beneath than the surface story and look for deeper meaning, social commentary, lasting implications or anything else that stands out for you. Why did you choose this article in the first place? What about the topic did you find fascinating? Does the story have an effect on your personal life, your professional life, your family, your community or your country? If yes, is it a short-term or long-term impact? How do you feel about the situation? Set a timer for 20 to 30 minutes of free-writing, and see where your pen takes you.
4. In conclusion, write the outcome or follow-up story you would like to see for this article. Why do you feel this way?
What topic did you cover in this journal writing exercise? Me? I chose to write about the Pittsburgh Steelers, the NFL's underdog with the most Super Bowl wins ever. How about you? Please share your thoughts in the comments!