Reading List – November 2018

I managed to squeeze in some extra reading time this month by lugging my iPad everywhere with me. Honestly, Auckland Libraries OverDrive is one of my favourite uses of the internet. It’s free to use once you sign up/in with your library card, and the selection is actually pretty damn good. I make sure to recommend books for them to purchase regularly too.

I received some books on my birthday so this month I have actually read some analogue novels too, but it’s hard to beat the convenience of digital. That being said, I’m not sure it’s done my eyesight any favours.

Lots of crime/suspense/thriller/mystery stuff this month, including some by my all time faves: Tana French & Stuart MacBride (yep, I like my murder mysteries to be really messed up). I’ve also been smashing out a lot of Anne Bishop fantasy, but I’m still undecided on whether I like her or not… The more I read her works, the more I see disturbing gender-essentialist “woman in jeopardy” themes coming through and it’s just not my cup of tea. Even when everything else is good, that kinda thing leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

Anyway, on to the list:

The Spirit Ring by Lois McMaster Bujold
The Unsound Issue 1 by Cullen Bunn
Exile by Denise Mina
The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham
Insidious Intent by Val McDermid
The Wych Elm by Tana French
Post Mortem by Kate London
Things We Have in Common by Tasha Kavanagh
Pig Island by Mo Hayder
Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines
The Phantom Tolbooth by Norton Juster
Daggerspell by Katharine Kerr
Tarot by Kim Arnold
Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
Holistic Tarot by Benebell Wen
Black Jack by Mari Carr
Junk by Melvin Burgess
The Hoarder by Jess Kidd
21 Ways to a Happier Depression by Seth Swirsky
Weycombe by G.M. Malliet
Death of a Cozy Writer by G.M. Malliet
Death and the Lit Chick by G.M. Malliet
Death at the Alma Mater by G.M. Malliet
Sugar Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke
Candy Cane Murder by Joanne Fluke
Plum Pudding Murder by Joanne Fluke
Gingerbread Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke
A Haunting is Brewing by Juliet Blackwell
Written in Red by Anne Bishop
Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop
Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop
Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop
Heir to the Shadows by Anne Bishop
Lake Silence by Anne Bishop
Thicker Than Blood by Erin Kelly
Betwixt and Between by Storm Faerywolf
Brazen Virtue by Nora Roberts
The Rising Sign by Jeanne Avery
Dying Light by Stuart MacBride
Flesh House by Stuart MacBride
Broken Skin by Stuart MacBride
Blind Eye by Stuart MacBride
Dark Blood by Stuart MacBride
Shatter the Bones by Stuart MacBride
Close to the Bone by Stuart MacBride
22 Dead Little Bodies and Other Stories by Stuart MacBride
The Missing and the Dead by Stuart MacBride
Partners in Crime by Stuart MacBride
Now We Are Dead by Stuart MacBride
In the Cold Dark Ground by Stuart MacBride
The Blood Road by Stuart MacBride
Birthdays for the Dead by Stuart MacBride
A Song for the Dying by Stuart MacBride
The Halfmen of O by Maurice Gee
The New Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer
The Wrong Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer
He Said / She Said by Erin Kelly

57 in total.

Reading List – October 2018

October is always a busy month for me – and with low mood issues, it’s also been a difficult one. But I still managed to squeeze in 18 books, which I feel good about. It’s quite a collection too. Spec fic (I think I love Jo Walton), romance, crime thriller, fantasy, and the odd non-fic for research purposes.

Short month, so short recap. Here’s the list:

The Just City by Jo Walton
The Bourbon Thief by Tiffany Reisz
The King’s Name by Jo Walton
Blood of the Earth by Faith Hunter
Curse on the Land by Faith Hunter
Flame in the Dark by Faith Hunter
The Celtic Goddess by Trevor Greenfield
The Philosopher Kings by Jo Walton
Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton
The Twelve Faces of the Goddess by Danielle Blackwood
Rivers of London: Black Mould 1 by Ben Aaronovitch
Rivers of London: Black Mould 2 by Ben Aaronovitch
The Dead Fathers Club by Matt Haig
The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness
The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney
Garnethill by Denise Mina

18 in total.

Reading List – September 2018

September was Comic Book month at Auckland Libraries, so I tried a bunch of graphic novels, and found some amazing stories. I liked comics as a kid (particularly X-men and Catwoman) but always kinda wished the stories were longer so I became a fan of collected editions and graphic novels. My first G.N. was “Dragonflight” by Anne McCaffrey – I’d read and loved the series beforehand, so the graphic novel was a wonderful find (at Rotorua Library back in the ’90s). As an adult, I became obsessed with Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” overture, and I’ll admit there are lots of online comics that I regularly ready. So finding “The Wicked + the Divine” and “Locke & Key” had me feeling really lucky this month.

I also started making my way through Naomi Novik’s alt-hist/fantasy “Temeraire” series – dragons in the Napoleonic Wars, what’s not to like. I read the first novel shortly after it was released and really liked it, but for some reason I never picked up the rest. Mistake! They are great, just wholesome fantasy with terrific language.

I also finished a few other series (Rendell, Blizz Chronicles), and started a bunch of new ones by Jo Walton – I’d read “My Real Children” a few years ago when I found it in a pile at Mum’s place, and it was weird in the best way. This month, I got “Among Others” and it was so perfectly attuned to my interests that I didn’t want it to end. After a brief mourning period, I moved on to her alt-history “Farthing” and her Arthurian-esque “King’s Peace” – both trilogies, so yay!

Resilient by Rick Hanson
The Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz
Craft by Gabriela Herstik
Witch Child by Celia Rees
Sorceress by Celia Rees
the witch doesn’t burn in this one by Amanda Lovelace
World of Warcraft Chronicle Volume 3 by Blizzard Entertainment
First, We Make the Beast Beautiful by Sarah Wilson
Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes by Cory O’Brien
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Temeraire by Naomi Novik
Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik
Black Powder War by Naomi Novik
Tongues of Serpents by Naomi Novik
Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novik
Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik
The Pillars of the World by Anne Bishop
The Gods of HP Lovecraft by Martha Wells
Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popovic
Beyond the Woods by Paula Guran
Conversations with Spirits by E.O. Higgins
Shadows and Light by Anne Bishop
The House of Gaian by Anne Bishop
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
The Monster in the Box by Ruth Rendell
The Vault by Ruth Rendell
Don’t Know Jack by Diane Capri
Inherit the bones by Emily Littlejohn
Wytches Volume 1 by Scott Snyder
The Wicked + the Divine Volume 1 by Kieron Gillen
A Study in Emerald by Neil Gaiman
Locke & Key Volume 1 by Joe Hill
Among Others by Jo Walton
Farthing by Jo Walton
The King’s Peace by Jo Walton
My Real Children by Jo Walton
What Makes This Book So Great by Jo Walton
No Man’s Nightingale by Ruth Rendell
The Magic of the Spring Equinox by Danu Forest
Gwyn ap Nudd by Danu Forest
The Wicked + the Divine Volume 2 by Kieron Gillen
The Wicked + the Divine Volume 3 by Kieron Gillen
The Wicked + the Divine Volume 4 by Kieron Gillen
Locke & Key Volume 2 by Joe Hill
Locke & Key Volume 3 by Joe Hill
Locke & Key Volume 4 by Joe Hill
Locke & Key Volume 5 by Joe Hill
Locke & Key Volume 6 by Joe Hill
Ostara by Kerri Connor

49 in total.

NaNoWriMo: Writer’s Agreement

In November 2018, I will participate in NaNoWriMo, with the goal of completing 50,000 words by midnight of 30/11. This averages out to 1667 words per day. I know that I can accomplish this because I have done it twice before, so I will not let  anxiety or negative self talk try to convince me otherwise!

I will write every day, between noon and 5pm, with no exceptions barring serious illness or natural disaster. Playing catch-up is hard, so my actual daily goal will be 2k words just in case the serious illness or disaster does occur! If the worst happens, I will not give up just because I’ve fallen behind my word goal. I will carry my notebook and iPhone with me so that I can write anywhere at any time.

I will not give in to boredom, laziness, or FOMO. To achieve this, I will follow the plot plan that I have created, and write the parts I want to write, regardless of order. I give myself permission to abuse coffee if required.

I will shelve my inner editor. I will not re-read anything that I have written until December. I give my novel permission to be terrible until December. This novel is ultimately for me – I don’t have to live up to anyone else’s standards.

I will not let outside interference dissuade me. I am allowed to prioritise this for myself, and the world will not end just because I have done so! I will retreat to my office if required, or the cafe, or the library. I will wear headphones and turn up my music.

I am allowed to be excited about this, even if nobody else understands. I will use FB groups and write-ins to discuss this with like-minded folks.

I want to accomplish this because I need to add structure and discipline back into my day, so that I have solid foundations for the rest of the work that I do. I want to teach my mind that “the perfect is the enemy of the good” and encourage no-holds-barred creativity. I want to give in to the urge to write.

Reading List 2018 – August

Well, Jesus fuck me gently with a chainsaw: this month I finished 53 books. FIFTY THREE!

It still counts if much of that was volumes of poetry, right? Actually, I feel like I should get bonus credit for reading poetry. I enjoy it occasionally, when I’m in the mood, but since August 24th was National Poetry Day, I pushed hard to try works from a wide variety of poets (and squeezed in a few of my faves too – I’m looking at you Rupi Kaur and Selina Tusitala Marsh, with heart eyes!), with a focus on including Kiwis, women and people of colour.

The rest was a fairly typical mix of crime thrillers & spiritual stuff, with the odd Spec Fic novel thrown in.

The NZ Book Council released survey reports stating that  86% of adult respondents read/started at least one book in the past year, and gave an estimated average of 35 books read per reader. Honestly, that seems high to me and I suspect it’s because of book nerds like me fuckin’ with the bell curve. Danyl Mclauchlan of The Spinoff floats the idea that people are prone to fibbing in these kinds of surveys, which makes a weird kind of sense too. He says that Wellington Library reported the average number of books borrowed by members in 2017 was about 11 per person, but there’s no mention of how many registered members they have. If I look at my immediate circle of family, not many use the library: me obv., and I know my brother borrows ebooks, and my mum may rarely go (she usually just buys her own books though, or borrows from friends), and after 18 years with my spouse, he did actually get a library card last year – to borrow a grand total of three books.

Anyway, for those who are curious, here’s the big list!

Wheels of Life by Anodea Judith
Cold Granite by Stuart McBride
Before the Storm by Christie Golden
The Witch’s Athame by Jason Mankey
Essential Oils in Spiritual Practice by Candice Covington
Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter
What’s a Witch to Do? by Jennifer Harlow
Wicca for Life by Raymond Buckland
Bloody January by Alan Parks
How to Stop Time by Matt Haig
If You Go Down to the Woods by Seth C. Adams
Little Wolves by Thomas Maltman
Magicians Impossible by Brad Abraham
The Murder Book by Jane A. Adams
The Merry Spinster by Mallory Ortberg
Wrede on Writing by Patricia C. Wrede
Writing With Intent by Margaret Atwood
Sometimes the Magic Works by Terry Brooks
Wicca for One by Raymond Buckland
A Little Book on Form by Robert Hass
In Perfect Love by Taliesin Govannon
The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur
Poisoned Apples by Christine Hepperman
Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong
The Dream of a Common Language by Adrienne Rich
When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities by Chen Chen
Rumi: Bridge to the Soul by Coleman Banks
100 Best-Loved Poems by Philip Smith
The Poetry of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson
The Black Unicorn by Audre Lorde
Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke by Rilke
The Best of Best New Zealand Poems ed. by Bill Manhire
Winter Trees by Sylvia Plath
Auckland ed. by Witi Ihimaera
Allen Curnow: Collected Poems ed. by Terry Sturm
Tightrope by Selina Tusitala Marsh
Selected Poems by James K. Baxter
Collected Poems 1951-2006 by C.K. Stead
Mauri Ola ed. by Albert Wendt
Poems 1960-2000 by Fleur Adcock
Al Que Quiere! by William Carlos Williams
A Miscellany by e.e. cummings
yesterday i was the moon by Noor Unnahar
The Silver Child by Cliff McNish
Omega by Stewart Farrar
Sign of the Labrys by Margaret St. Clair
Witchcraft from the Inside by Raymond Buckland
A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin
Failure of Moonlight by Rosemary Edghill
Murder by Magic ed. by Rosemary Edghill
Modern Wicca by Michael Howard
Witches of America by Alex Mar
Merry Meet Again by Deborah Lipp

53 (!) in total.

Reading List 2018 – July

July was a bad month for my mood, so my read list mostly consists of the comfort of fantasy and spirituality, although I did manage to pound out a few Ruth Rendell’s too.

Props for Robert Dinsdale’s “The Toymakers”, which is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read. Loved it.

I Am Rebecca by Fleur Beale
How to Start a Red Tent by Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost
Simisola by Ruth Rendell
Road Rage by Ruth Rendell
Faerie Tale by Raymond E. Feist
Strange Devices of the Sun and Moon by Lisa Goldstein
Aromatherapy for Women by Maggie Tisserand
Not her real name by Emily Perkins
The Greek Myths by Robert Graves
Tithe by Holly Black
Ironside by Holly Black
Valiant by Holly Black
Harm Done by Ruth Rendell
The Babes in the Wood by Ruth Rendell
The Everything Tarot Book by Skye Alexander
Tarot Court Cards for Beginners by Leeza Robertson
Traditional Wicca by Thorn Mooney
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale
Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones
The Amulet by Michael McDowell
Sweep: Book of Shadows by Cate Tiernan
End In Tears by Ruth Rendell
Not in the Flesh by Ruth Rendell
Witchcraft: A Very Short Introduction by Malcolm Gaskill

25 in total.

Reading List 2018 – June

Still making my way through Ruth Rendell’s Wexford novels. It’s fascinating to watch as both Rendell and her main characters adapt to the changes of time: the first Wexford novel was published in 1964, and the one I just finished, “Kissing the Gunner’s Daughter“, came out in 1992. A lot happened in real time over those ~30 years, but Wexford only ages about a decade (maybe? she’s left it pretty vague) so it would’ve been a challenge to update her characters for more modern audiences without totally changing their personalities. It’s indicative of Rendell’s skill as a writer that she accomplished this so smoothly.

Speaking of writers, I spent June organising a local writers group, which necessitated reading some books aimed at writers as part of my prep. I spent quite a bit of time with Diana Wynne Jones’ writing memoir – “Reflections” – and then had to re-read some of her books so that I could give context to her musings. I will forever be in awe at her mind. It’s always been obvious to me that she was a terrific writer, but then when you read about her story-building process (especially for “Fire and Hemlock” – my God!), you realise she was a wildly creative genius who left the world a better place for having had her in it.

The other observation that reading “Reflections” left me with was when I’m struggling with low mood, reading anthologies is a wise choice – being able to pick up and put down a book at regular intervals seems to improve my concentration and focus at such times. In that vein, I recommend “Te Kōrero Ahi Kā“: a delicious collection of scifi, fantasy and horror submissions from members of SpecFicNZ

Honourable mention goes to Vanessa Cuccia’s “Crystal Healing and Sacred Pleasure“. The founder of Chakrubs has done an excellent job of writing about sexuality, healing and the use of crystals in this book. It was a beautiful and edifying read.

Murder Being Once Done by Ruth Rendell
Plus+ by Bethany Rutter
Angel Fire by Lisa Unger
The Perfect Cookie ed. by America’s Test Kitchen
Some Lie and Some Die by Ruth Rendell
Shake Hands For Ever by Ruth Rendell
Witch, Please by Misty Bell Stiers
The Workshop Handbook for Writers by Jackie Wills
Medea by Kerry Greenwood
Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones
Daily Writing Resilience by Bryan E. Robinson
Pep Talks for Writers by Grant Faulkner
Reflections on the Magic of Writing by Diana Wynne Jones
A Sleeping Life by Ruth Rendell
The Game by Diana Wynne Jones
The Power of Three by Diana Wynne Jones
Eight Days of Luke by Diana Wynne Jones
Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones
Put On By Cunning by Ruth Rendell
The Witchmaster’s Key by Franklin W. Dixon
Bless This House by Donna Henes
The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones
Crystal Healing and Sacred Pleasure by Vanessa Cuccia
The Speaker of Mandarin by Ruth Rendell
An Unkindness of Ravens by Ruth Rendell
In the Shadow of the Trees by Elenor Gill
The Writing Group Book ed. by Lisa Rosenthal
Te Kōrero Ahi Kā: To Speak of the Home Fires Burning ed. by Grace Bridges, Lee Murray, Aaron Compton
The Veiled One by Ruth Rendell
Kissing the Gunner’s Daughter by Ruth Rendell

30 in total.

What and Why I Write

For me, writing is a method of learning about myself and the universe at large. “Know Thyself” instructed the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, and Socrates declaimed, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” In a modern life full of distractions, we can hit retirement age before realising we’ve not once paused to ask these most important of questions: who am I? why am I? how can I become what I desire?

All things change as they age. This change is inevitable (and vital!) – so I believe it’s important to embrace it, and choose how to shape it for ourselves. One of the key methods of doing this, for me and probably for a lot of other people, is by examining my values, core beliefs, ideas about self. With that knowledge, I can guide my life towards purpose that makes life worth living.

As a child, I believed that life was a straight line, and that all I had to do was follow the “correct” steps to be successful – but of course I didn’t really know exactly what success I was hoping to achieve. My plan was typical and straightforward: school, uni, career, marriage, house, children, age, die. But during my teen years, I came to a crossroads where I realised that I had to make a choice – keep blindly following one path and ticking off goals as if life was some sort of game with a strategy guide to help me win, OR change my paradigm to acknowledge that life is an ongoing, fluid process – and that reaching a destination doesn’t matter as much as enjoying the journey.

I mean, I realise that this is pretty cliché, but I think that’s because it’s also true. Trying to achieve goals set by other people led me to anxiety, depression and crisis. That old worldview walked hand in hand with worry and regret, and drove me to a breakdown, aged 16.

Nearly two decades later, I’m trying instead to live in the present, and to explore all life has to offer with curiousity and an open mind. I’ve always been mad about learning new things, but instead of limiting that education, I’ve opened myself to a variety of experiences by practicing being vulnerable and brave, honest and inquisitive, patient and accepting.

And this too is a work in progress.

“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I am afraid of.” – Josh Weldon

Reading List 2018 – May

I’ve decided to give up on the Romance genre. It’s just not for me. I like a drop of romance as a flavour to the rest of the story, but reading solely about people trying to come to terms with their feelings for each other just makes me tired. I spend too much time yelling, “JUST FUCKING TALK TO EACH OTHER LIKE ADULTS!” and it drops me out of the story. Also, frankly, I’m not often wowed by capital-R Romance writers’ actual writing style, and life is too short for bad books.

This month, my new thing was nonfic interior design & decor books. I felt dangerously inspired. In other news, the layout of my lounge has changed for the better, and I’m starting to actually make this rental feel like home.

I also tried an eBook, kind of. “8 Hour Sleep Affirmations” starts with a guided visualisation that helps you relax your muscles enough to fall asleep, and then uses soft, calming music to help you drift off. Half way through, the narrator’s voice slowly ramps up again to utter positive affirmations, before subsiding into music. It’s ridiculously relaxing, and seems to be working to improve my mood, so I’ve introduced it as a nightly ritual. My spouse is very open minded, and he has come to quite enjoy the soothing sounds.

Under My Hat by Jonathon Strahan
World of Warcraft: Chronicle Vol. 2 by Chris Metzen and Matt Burns
I Am Not Esther by Fleur Beale
The Best Man to Die by Ruth Rendell
A Guilty Thing Surprised by Ruth Rendell
A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie
8 Hour Sleep Affirmations: Anxiety & Depression Self Help by Joel Thielke
Goldenhand by Garth Nix
The Journals of Sylvia Plath by Sylvia Plath & Ted Hughes
Collected Poems by Adrienne Rich
No More Dying Then by Ruth Rendell
The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney
The New Bohemians by Justina Blakeney
The Kinfolk Home by Nathan Williams
The Great Interior Design Challenge Sourcebook by Tom Dyckhoff
The Slaughter Man by Tony Parsons
Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett
Dangerously Bad by Eden Bradley

18 in total. Thanks to Amanda for the Fleur Beale rec – it’s very good!

Journalling for Mental Wellbeing

Originally posted at The Catastrophe Club.

If you’ve ever talked to a health professional about your anxiety, they probably mentioned journalling. That’s because there have been a number of studies that demonstrate how useful regular journalling is for managing stress, anxiety, and depression – and it’s something that anyone can do, which doesn’t cost a lot of money or take up a lot of time.

How you journal depends entirely on your needs and preferences!

Want to focus on the positive? Try gratitude journalling – every day before you go to bed, write down three things that have happened that day for which you are thankful. Sometimes, this can be the big stuff (the war is over! I got married! Brooklyn Nine-Nine was renewed!) and sometimes it’s the little things (I woke up feeling peaceful, I found my lucky pencil, the way my cat stretches and yawns is cute). The idea is that we spend enough time and energy worrying about all the bad stuff (apparently something like 80% of automatic thoughts are negative!) so by investing time in noticing and being thankful for the good stuff, we build up our resilience and regain some control over our reactions.

Not a words person? Try colouring! You can buy colouring-in books and journals, simply print pages off the internet, or create your own drawings – then sit down and focus all your attention on the act of creating art. This is mindfulness in practice: engaging the senses of your body, focusing on the moment, making time. If anxiety is worry about the future or past events, then mindfulness is a solution that brings you to the present, meaning your brain has less ability to give anxiety space.

Can’t stop worrying about a particular incident? Try a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy trick – the thought record. Write down the context of the worry: what happened, where, when, with whom? Describe how you felt, and on a scale of 1-100%, how strong those feelings were. Think about facts that support how you’re thinking about that incident – remember, facts are externally verifiable evidence, NOT judgements or personal interpretations. What things might contradict the thoughts you’re having? How could you think about this incident in a different, more balanced way? Finally, rate your mood again to see whether this exercise helped. You can find a basic Thought Record Template here (PDF).

Do you lie awake at night, thinking about all the things you have to do? That sort of rumination builds anxiety up, making it more and more difficult to get to sleep! One of the best tips for dealing with it is to keep a notebook by your bed, and make lists of the things you’re worrying about. Tell yourself that once it’s written down, it’s dealt with for now. The next day, you can work through the list at your leisure. If you’re a stationery addict, there’s a huge range of day planners available to make this easy and enjoyable.

One new type of planner is the bullet journal. These have been around for several years now, and are terrific for people who are prone to writing to-do lists on every scrap of paper they have, as well as people who like beautiful stationery, arts & crafts. Bullet journalling is exactly what it sounds like – instead of writing diary-style entries, you make bullet point lists and can use symbols, grids, diagrams and all sorts of creative ways to track items. There’s a huge fanbase around bullet journalling, so if you become obsessed, there are plenty of like-minded people to share and create with. Try searching #bulletjournal on Instagram!

Okay, I hear you say, it’s 2018! Who still uses pens and paper?? Well, I have good news – there are more journalling apps for your devices than you could ever imagine. A really simple, mental health focused one is “What’s Up?” – available on both Android and iOS. Along with tools for managing your calm, coping strategies for managing your thoughts, and information on a range of mental health issues, What’s Up also has a diary section to help you log your day, habits, and more. If you’d like to try digital colouring-in, take a look at Colorfy for Android and iPhone. Both of these apps are free, but there are also paid apps with more in-depth options, if you decide that the digital life is for you!

If you’re keen to give journalling a try but don’t know where to begin, try these writing prompts:

  • What made you feel joy today? What made you feel sad? What made you angry? What other emotions did you notice?
  • If you had to write a letter to someone in particular, what would you say to that person?
  • Describe what your anxiety would look like if it was an external object. What does it sound like? Smell like? Taste like? If you touched it, what would it feel like?
  • What advice would you give your past self?
  • What is your favourite memory? How does it make you feel?
  • If you could paint a picture of your dream life, what would that picture look like?
  • Do you have a hero? How would they deal with the life problems that you’re experiencing?
  • If something bad happened today, write about how you’d encourage a friend if they had gone through it instead of you. What would you tell them about themselves? How would you build them up?
  • Make a list of the people you can contact when you’re feeling down.
  • Make a list of things you can do to distract yourself when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
  • What inspired you today? Write down a quote or a story that gives you hope.

Final thought – don’t censor yourself. This is your personal journal – spelling and grammar are not important. How other people will perceive you is not important. Let your emotion flow out onto the page. Promise yourself that for at least this journalling time, you will practice self-compassion and self-kindness. Remember: you are stronger and more capable than you realise.

Recommended Products

Tiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal by Lori Deschene

Tiny Buddha’s Worry Journal by Lori Deschene

Self Care Journal by Rachelle Abrellar

Me, Myself and I: A Bullet Journal Notebook with Dot Grid Pages – Perfect for To-Do Lists, Dotted Journaling, Diary, and More

Knock Knock’s I’m So Freaking Freaked Out Journal

How to Be Happy (Or at Least Less Sad): A Creative Workbook by Lee Crutchley