In “Revisionary Journals: A Mini Course in Extreme Visual Journaling” (Cloth Paper Scissors March/April 2009), artist and workshop leader Juliana Coles guides readers through several self-reflective creative journaling exercises. Here, she provides “homework” for taking it further.
“Let‘s keep going! I have some homework for you to try out, because we can see that doing the work and connecting with our inner self can be fun in an extreme visual journal!”
Homework # 1
Everyone from Lucia Capacchione to Julia Cameron recommends this exercise, and I think it’s a good one: Write a letter to yourself from your 80-year-old self, telling you about your life and all that you have accomplished. This can be very empowering. Next, find a picture of yourself as a child. The one where you look like you can do anything. Set this young self where you can see her while you are working. She has something to tell you.
Now I want you to write a letter to your 8-year-old self. I want you to ask her if there’s anything you’ve forgotten about her dreams, and if there’s anything she would like to tell you about what she wanted to be when she grew up. You will have to introduce yourself and coax her out—she can be angry if you’ve never talked with her or it’s been a long time, so be patient and loving. Let her know it is safe and you will value what she tells you.
Now put the pen in your other, non-dominant, hand and have your 8-year-old self write back. Your non- dominant hand will represent this child self. It will be hard to write and very slow going. Do not take the pen out of your awkward hand saying, “Oh I can do this fasterxI know what you are going to say.” Be very patient. This kind of work can be emotionally intense so make sure you have plenty of uninterrupted private time. Don’t try to make sense of what comes out. Allow it to flow. Write back and forth until you feel done. Then immediately go back and clarify the words that you can’t read because otherwise you’ll forget. Let this child tell you of her dreams. Ask her how you can still make them happen. Live some part of it. Create an image about this conversation in your journal combining words with imagery.
Homework # 2
Create a textural collage using 20 words and 20 things that describe visually and verbally what you desire in your dream life. (So, if you made a collaborative group future collage, this is your opportunity to make your own or make one that is more thoughtful rather than rushed and unprepared).
What do I mean by textural collage? In one of my visual journaling workshops with gifted children at a local grade school, one of the little girls was blind. When we would share our work, she would always exclaim, oh let me see, and she would grab the book and feel the page, and say, oh yes, I see. So I want you to be able to feel this collage.
Want to talk with other like minded souls about this revisionary process? Join my extremejournalism Yahoo group.