Gift Someone A Journal This Christmas
With the start of a new year days away millions will start a journal and abandon it within a week of starting. So how about engaging a book mentor as a companion for your journal writing journey? Jackee Holder lets you into her thirteen recommended journal/writing books to choose from to gift someone along with a blank journal or notebook this christmas.
The writer Flannery O’Connor famously said, “If you survived childhood then you have plenty to write about.” Whilst this may very well be true it’s easier said than done to conjure up enough material to keep up the habit of writing a journal. Most people abandon journals with seven days of starting. This may well have been the case with the mother of writer Terry Tempest Williams who gifted her daughter her journals and asked her to promise not to look into the journals until after her death. When her daughter leafed through the three shelves of cloth bound journals every single one of the journals was blank.
The new-year is an ideal time of the year to start a new journal. But most people hesitate because they’re not sure how or where to start, what to should write about and how to keep going.
Over 26 years of writing a journal what has kept me going and got me back on track when I have fallen off the wagon were the book mentors in my collections of books on journaling and creative writing. These are books steeped in the art of journaling or creative writing. I have never felt alone on the journey of journaling as one or more of these books have always been close to hand to dip into for inspiration, ideas and motivation to stay on the page.
With proven physical, psychological and emotional benefits of journal writing being evidenced significantly in recent research giving a gift of a blank journal makes holistic sense. Especially if you want to give someone a gift with personal meaning then a blank journal or notebook with one of my recommended journal writing books from the list below as a companion makes perfect sense.
A Writers Book Of Days, Judy Reeves
Whoever receives this as a gift won’t ever be stuck for something to write about. Reeves, ploughs you with hundreds of writing prompts to keep you going for the year. I love all the quotes about the idiosyncrasies of writers and how they write. The layout is spacious with text that’s easy to read.
Saved By A Poem, Kim Rosen
If you want some fresh or new ideas for writing in your journal then you won’t be disappointed with Saved By A Poem. It’s all about the heart and soul of poetry and how to use a poem to learn about yourself and life. Reading this book inspired me to start learning poems again off by heart. It brings home how poems can connects us to those emotions and feelings we may have difficulty in expressing. This one is ideal for teenagers, someone facing adversity or when you’re feeling adrift in your life or career. There’s a CD that comes with the book of all the featured poems.
Poem Crazy, Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge
I never tire of reading Poem Crazy. Each essay is a deep dive into the wonderful mysterious force of nature that poetry bestows upon us. But it’s not airy-fairy text as each essay features real life situations from the authors work as a poetry teacher. In fact it’s very moving when you realise how deeply poetry can touch and move people and groups whom others have often given up on. This is a playful, fun book, which is also full of surprises. I think reading an essay a day from Poem Crazy will get you to the page and keep you there. The prompts are not what you would expect which keeps the whole process stimulating. I’ve read my copy several times over now and I’m never bored by the content. This one is great gift for a teenager who maybe finding it hard to vocalize experiences and feelings.
Fruitflesh, Gayle Brandeis
The succulent pomegranate on the front of this book was what originally drew me to buying it. But I was bowled away by the richness and juicy writing prompts that focus on writing prompts inspired to get women writing about their bodies. Brandeis writing prompts are refreshingly appetising, savoury and short but yet deep and reflective. Whether you write or not every woman should have a copy of Fruitflesh. Unfortunately someone in marketing made a startling choice and changed the book cover design which I am sure has had an impact on sales of the book.
A Walk Between Heaven and Earth, Burghild Nina Holzer
Don’t be fooled by the slimness of this book. It’s a years worth of journaling by creative writing teacher Burghild Holzer. This is a great companion for someone new to journaling. Holzer shares a year of writing in her journal around the time of her brother dying. It’s an ideal companion to a journal for someone who maybe experiencing grief or loss.
The Sound of Paper, Julia Cameron
I have read every non-fiction book by Julia Cameron and I like them all but the Sound of Paper is one of my favourites. I love the image on the cover and the chunky feel of the book. The essays are beautifully crafted using metaphors of the earth to illustrate the contours of the writing life. I found the essays in The Sound Of Paper meditative and they really inspired me to write more sensually and connect to the senses in my writing.
49 Ways To Write Yourself Well, Jackee Holder
It’s an easy to read illustrated guide to journaling and therapeutic writing. It helps you get started with journaling and offers loads of journal writing prompts. It includes writing exercises to deal with everyday life challenges as well as ideas for becoming a better writer.
Soul Between The Lines, Dorothy Randall Gray
This is one of my favourites. The book is well structured and crafted and the author comes up with some gems for writing a journal and for developing writing practice in your journals. I like the practices of finding “seeds” and the “food for thoughts” in early writing drafts. Come on publishers you need to bring this book back into print. You can still find second hand copies on line.
Writing As A Way Of Healing, Louise de Salvo
This book is a more serious take on the expressive and therapeutic benefits of journal writing and is best suited for those needing to work with emotional and psychological material. It is evidenced based so draws on research and case studies. I like this one a lot and have returned to it many times as research for articles and writing projects. This is a great writing book to gift to a friend or family member who works in the caring or helping professions or someone who is going through a difficult time.
One Continuous Mistake, Gail Sher
This is another slim volume but not to be underestimated. Sher an ordained Buddhist minister has pulled together a volume of Zen like essays on the writing habit. A strong message throughout the book is the reminder that we can learn a great deal from our mistakes. I have been sharing her four noble truths for years with writers on writing retreats and they really resonate with people. This book is both spiritual and sacred. I wrote loads of quotes from this one and kept stopping to follow up references.
Still Writing, Dani Shapiro
This is a new edition to my collection which I read earlier this year and spent most of the time either laughing out loud or nodding my head in agreement. If you know someone who is struggling with believing in themselves as a writer than Shapiro’s down to earth story telling about becoming a writer will kick you up the butt and hopefully onto the page. This book teaches you about writing and life. I loved it, tweeted it and she conversed with me on Twitter. Not bad for a best selling author who’s been featured on Super Soul Sundays with Oprah.
Page By Page, Heather Sellers
I couldn’t believe my luck when I stumbled across Page by Page. Newly in print in 2009 I felt like I had found a new friend. This is a hearty book. It won’t allow you to get off the page. It breaks down the writing process in an easy to follow, friendly way that you leaves you not feeling intimidated by the writing process, I promise you. It’s one of those guides that you know and feel it through the writing that the author has walked her talk. Heather is an experienced writing teacher to writers and it shows. Great book gift for someone who wants to write but hasn’t started.
Deep Writing, Eric Maisel
I really like Eric’s work and his books are always well researched and thought through. Deep writing should get a lot more attention than I think it does. It’s great for those who want to take their writing more seriously and beyond the pages of the journal or seasoned writers who might be feeling stuck. But equally it’s a great guide and companion for deepening into your own journal writing and writing well about the things that are meaningful in life.