MAKE A LIST. This is simply what it is. Make a list of whatever comes into your mind, like "advantages of chemo" or "things I love about myself..." or "things that make me smile" or "What I've accomplished in my life" or "things that made me smile today" or "things I want to remember about this season" or "what I want to accomplish in my life" or "people that I love", etc. The list of things that you can write lists about is endless. One that feels particularly good is to make a list of five things, people, events, etc. in your life that you are grateful for - and write this list at the end of each day. Think of new items to add from the day's events. Make sure at least two items are things about YOU that you are grateful for. The expression of gratitude on a regular basis can make a big, positive difference in one's outlook on life.
WRITE A QUESTION, and then pause for a moment to listen for the answer, writing down whatever comes into your mind. Or, better yet, after writing the question, move the pen into your non-dominant hand, then listen for the answer (you won't hear an actual voice) and write down whatever comes into your mind, without analyzing it. This switches which side of your brain you're thinking with. Then, read it to see if it makes sense to you. A question can be on any subject, like "why do I feel so exhausted today?" or "What makes me feel better when I'm feeling down?" or "Why did I react that way to...?" WHY seems to be the most frequent question I ask myself, which I'm sure started when I was a small child.
WRITE A STORY. Try this - write the story that describes the most joyful moment of your life. Use your senses to include every detail you can remember – the setting, the weather, what you were wearing, the people who were present, sounds, words, fragrance or taste, the emotions you experienced. Now, close your eyes and relax, replaying every detail of that memory in your mind. Re-live those joyful feelings as if it were happening again, right now. ENJOY the memory. Don’t allow your brain to insert any negative thoughts that might spoil your enjoyment. Stay focused on the joy as long as you wish. Then, the next time you’re feeling down, bring yourself back to that joyful memory and repeat this exercise to see if it will lift your mood.
If your story has an unhappy ending, as the writer, you can change that. Imagine a different, perfect ending - one that helps you to FEEL BETTER. It's not like you're writing for an audience that is going to judge the accuracy of what you write. Or, write a whole new story that's totally fictional that just MAKES YOU FEEL BETTER. Or, write the story of what you and your life will be like when you are totally healed. Embellish it with as many details as you can IMAGINE - use all your senses to give your story more "life". FEEL GOOD about your story.
Clustering – Begin by choosing a word you want to write about. Write it in the center of the page, then write down every word that comes to mind. Write down words even if they don’t make sense and even words that seem odd or silly. You can work in a circular fashion. Keep concentrating on doing this and you’ll feel a shift in your consciousness as words just occur to you. Write them down quickly before the judge censors them. Notice how one word leads to another. Sometimes, your mind will jump to a more concrete word or an unexpected one. Draw lines from one word to another as your thought moves from one to the other. Do the clustering in whatever way works for you. Later, you can use Stream of Consciousness writing from the ideas or feelings that emerge from the cluster and see what new thoughts arise. Here is a typed example, for ease of reading. I started with the word NOW and 'clustered' around it.
I often write prayers and affirmations in my journal. I believe that writing things down makes them more real, more concrete, more achievable, more believable. My favorite affirmation now is I AM PEACEFUL. I AM JOYFUL. I AM VERY STRONG AND HEALTHY.
Sources: The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
Stirring the Waters by Janell Moon
Journaling for Joy by Joyce Chapman