Journal Writing: A Catharsis as Well as a Gift
By Victor Westgate

If you’re anything like me you always have good intentions when putting pen to paper but for reasons like schedule, interruptions as well as laziness you never follow through consistently. I love journals, diaries, letters, and historical documents, but maintaining a specific topic or question worth pursuing an answer to each day in a journal is not always easy or interesting for me to complete.

So, if you are like me consider one or two of the questions that follow as a sort of prompter in your quest to write down your thoughts on these particular questions. I suggest this set of questions because I consider them very thought-provoking and quite simply enjoyable in challenging myself to write about. At a certain age if we are honest, we know the value of putting pen to paper for our children and those that follow in order for them to have a glimpse into the kind of person we are (or were) based on our responses. Some sample writing prompters follow:

  • Look at your daily newspaper. Circle one or two articles that really tug at your heart. After reading them, explain why they are meaningful to you and what you would like to change in your life or in the world as a result? Not bad or right and not your typical teacher- driven question such as “What did you do on your summer vacation?”
  • Create a list of two or three people who have been your guides or mentors during your lifetime. How did they change your life or the way you thought about things?

Let me be the first to respond to the second exercise/question. For me, two people come to mind quickly:

First, my teaching supervisor as well as history professor during my undergraduate studies. Professor John Rodgers made history come alive for me; when he taught history it was in the form of storytelling and he could slide into anecdotes like opening a dresser drawer both quietly and smoothly. When I went out student teaching he served as my supervisor and provided guidance that I carried through 35 years of teaching. The second person was my father whose combination of humor and candor provided me with a foundation when facing life’s challenges. My dad taught me never to envy anyone because we do not know their inner as well as exterior challenges and try to be as honest as possible for your own well-being more than for anyone else…

So, there you have it. I have provided you with a writing assignment and you have been given a glimpse into what makes me tick and what I consider of value to share with others both on paper as well as in person. Turn on your laptop and start typing!


About the Author

Victor Westgate, a high school educator of 34 years, along with his wife Dr. Lisa Cowley, a holistic chiropractor and nutritional counselor of 25 years, are authors of Pack Lightly: Making Sense of the Second Half of Your Life. You can learn more at:


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