I purposefully held back from starting this task as I have just started a new contract as Dance Captain for 'Sleeping Beauty' the Pantomime in Durham. I have never been a Dance Captain before and I see writing in my journal as the perfect opportunity to capture the experience. When I was initially offered the role, my immediate reaction was to politely decline, because my self-doubt crept in. I have never seen myself as a natural leader. I am always comfortable letting others take the lead and organise me and I did not believe that I had the natural organisational/teaching skills that the role demanded. However, starting this course has forced me to identify my development needs, it has also increased my confidence and I realise I need to move out of my comfort zone and take on new challenges. I put into practice what I had already learnt on this course so far, and reflected on particular events in the past where I had taken on positions of responsibility and succeeded. This new found thought process influenced my decision and changed my previous misconceptions and I realised that, in order to progress in my career and develop personally, I needed this challenge and so I accepted the role.
My main objectives when I embarked on my journal writing were not only to record my experiences, but also to reflect and evaluate each event. I wanted to make sure that I was totally honest and that I wrote how I really felt, not how I thought I should feel. I wanted a place where I am able to 'let it all out'.
Finding the perfect writing style was important to me and I began experimenting with various styles outlined in the Reader, but, I found very quickly that my journal writing just did not fit into any particular category. I persevered, but kept deviating from the style, for example writing a list left me frustrated that I was unable to put down emotions and feelings. I ended up just writing lists of words with no links to what had actually caused me to feel that particular way. I felt that in order to 'clear my mind' I needed to write full accounts of how I actually felt at each particular moment.
I have found that the main reward of journal writing is that, by writing it down, it somehow became permanent and 'concrete' to me. I was interested to read an article by Ron Klug (2002) who observed that by writing things down in a journal the words are outside of us.
Looking back at one of my first journal entries - day one of rehearsals - my train was delayed by two hours and I was forced to walk into a room full of people, all of whom I've never met before. They were already half way through script reading and lists and graphs just couldn't have captured that moment - the sheer humiliation and embarassment - it would have needed 'description, initial reflection, what if and another view!!!!. Sticking to a particular style just felt too restrictive. I will keep on experimenting with different styles and maybe use different elements from each category.
I found I preferred to record events in my journal as they happened, getting a snapshot of the moment. However, sometimes this just isn't possible so I have found a formula to use for reflection at the end of the day. I have typed it up and glued it on the front page of my journal and it acts as an aide memoire for the days I am too exhausted and drained to complete a full record of my experience.
. What were the major events that happened to me today?
. What was different about my day?
. How did I feel?
. What were the best and worst things about today?
. What went well and what can I learn from this?
. What didn't go well and what can I learn from this?
I found this quote by Ron Klug (2002) particularly uplifting:
"A journal is a tool for self-discovery, an aid to concentration, a mirror for the soul, a place to generate and capture ideas, a safety valve for the emotions, a training ground for the writer and a good friend and confidant."
Klug, Ron (2002) How to Keep a Spiritual Journal