journaling through the years

journaling through the years

A hot summer day in the Chicago suburbs, 1996. In my backyard, I wore my tight short jean shorts and a tank top, pulled out my lawn chair, my stereo, a notebook and a pen. I spent most summer days outside writing journal entries, plays, poems and songs. Mostly, I wrote pages and pages of journal entries based on prompts that my friends or I wrote to inspire the day’s writing assignment. I gave myself these assignments by filling the entire journal with these prompts and I looked forward to writing them as much as I loved watching the gorgeous next door neighbor working on his house. Both gave me inherent inspiration.

Some days I cheated and answered several prompts. I remember when I couldn’t stop writing. When I didn’t care what I wrote because I knew I was the only one who would read it. Sometimes the neighbor would ask me what I was writing about, but I never had to show him. These were my journals. My hopes. My dreams.

After becoming a published writer with a writing degree, I judge the writing before I even start. I think no one will want to read this. I have to choke it out of my system, coughing and spitting up words until they make sense. Getting the words on the page is work. Real work. Not summer dreamy fun.

90% of those journals were probably silly teenage junk. But they instilled the love of writing that will never leave these fingers. The prompts guided the writing in a focused direction but gave me the freedom to brainstorm without the critic who took a long-term residence in my brain.

My goal this summer is to send the critic on a month long vacation. I won’t try to get back into my short shorts but I’ll grab an old-fashioned notebook and write some prompts to help the ideas flow. Some will be my own. Some will be from The 3AM Epiphany.

Anyone else  feel like sending an inner-critic on a vacation too?

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