Journaling with Jenny! How I use different types of journals in my writing practice (and LIFE)

I was recently invited to do a podcast interview with Jennifer Troester about journaling.
I love Jenny and her podcast and journaling, so I leapt at the chance to chat with her about it.

You can leap over and listen in HERE:



Or you can read on….

I have journaled in a myriad of ways.

In the beginning…

I began writing things down as a kid. Things that happened at home, in the night. Bad things that seemed to disappear in the daylight. Things that no one would talk about or admit had happened, even though my mother, my sister, and I bore the bruises. These things happened, but it wasn’t SAFE to tell anyone about them. So I began to write them down, to make them REAL and to get them out of my body. I wrote them down and then… I burned them. I couldn’t keep them, of course. That was too dangerous. I was OK with that. I didn’t need to keep them. It was the ACT of writing them down that was important.

Diaries I have known….

I’ve had diaries over the years. I loved those five-year diaries with the lock and key.
Some I destroyed.
Some I filled with lies, feeling like people were reading over my shoulder.
I was afraid to write down my true thoughts or feelings for years.
When I began to write down truths and keep them, I made my friend Anna SWEAR that when I died, she would come to my house, round up the journals and spirit them out of my apartment before my family could see them. I was afraid of hurting someone’s feelings.

I also created an entirely FAKE diary at least once while keeping the real one well-hidden.

My current practice(s)….

These days, my scribblings take a few different forms and serve different purposes.
1. THE SCRIB: Where I scribble each morning by hand (this soothes me and is part of my morning ritual)
2. An INTERSTITIAL JOURNAL: To track my daily worky-work doings (this is like a TO DO list on steroids)
3. And my PROCESS JOURNAL: where I track what’s going on in my current writing project and how I am feeling about it (this is … necessary)


This is a cross between a diary and my version of Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages. I write every morning for by hand, usually in a big black sketchbook or on my ReMarkable tablet. Some days I write for 30 minutes, some days I go for an hour.

Often I despair the brain emptying banality of the Scrib. The ruminations on how much I hate my hair or whatever. I long to be more poetic, more like…. Anais Nin or something. Sometimes, I do write poetry. Or draw a picture. More and more I draw. I also dream of being Lynda Barry.

Some days working in the Scrib can lead me right in to working on a current writing project. Those are good good days.

This journal serves to soothe me and keep me balanced. It’s part of my morning ritual. Every morning, I Make AMESS.
1. A – Looking into my own eyes in the mirror, I tell myself I am Awesome (or will be, just for today)
2. M – I Move my body
3. E – I Eat breakfast
4. S – I Sit in silent meditation
5. S – I do the Scrib

If I don’t do the Scrib for a few days, I get cranky.

When I am particularly busy with worky-work, I keep what I like to call an INTERSTITIAL JOURNAL. This is a place that I track the doings of my day. With time stamps and quick notes on how I feel before I begin a task and how I feel after I do it.
This is a to do list, but also helps me see and appreciate the time between the doings.

Introduced to me by the fabulous artist Lia Pas.


adjective: interstitial
1 of, forming, or occupying interstices.”the interstitial space”
◦ Ecology(of minute animals) living in the spaces between individual sand grains in the soil or aquatic sediments.”the interstitial fauna of marine sands”

The Interstitial helps me SEE the doings of the day, lay out my priorties, and be aware of all the mini and major transitions in my day.

Sometimes I lay it out with:
• Deep Focus Sessions (90 minutes)
• Tiny Things in between these sessions (to get that dopamine hit)
• and scheduled Breaks (because I so often forget to take a break)

I’ve used notebooks and EVERNOTE for this, but right now I am doing it in MACJOURNAL.

When I am working on a novel (or any writing project), I keep a PROCESS JOURNAL that is focussed on the writing and how it’s going. I began to do this when I was working with Jennifer Louden in her Get Your Scary S#1t Done course.

When I am working on a novel, I keep this journal in the SCRIVENER project for the book.
If I am working on smaller things, I keep this in MACJOURNAL.

The important thing for me about this one is that it is a PROCESS Journal, not a PROGRESS Journal.
A Progress Journal can feel like (and has been called) a Treadmill Journal where you track your words/time/pages and so on. I know this can help folks, but it doesn’t work for me.

I keep it pretty simple with a fill in the blank template:

Notes of the day:

Coming IN I feel:

Ongoing notes: anything I want to hang onto.

And when I’m done, I do fill in the following.




Going OUT I feel:

Length of work session:

Next Steps/when:


The hardest thing to fill in is CELEBRATION. I always forget to celebrate the work I have done.
Though I do love to track progress, I keep the focus on my process, remembering that it’s the “doing” that is where the joy is, not the “having done.”

Do you journal?
How do you use your journal?
Do you have more than one?

I’d love to hear about your scribbling (or keyboarding) adventures.

go easy ~p

Time/energy and how to find true rest when your schedule has you running like mad…

Hullo Sweeties!
I am back on the prairies and settling in to my fabulous position as the Writer in Residence at the Regina Public Library. This is actually the beginning of my third week here. Time…. she flies… yes?

Which is my topic for this first missive from the WiR office. Time/energy and how to find true rest when your schedule has you running like mad.

As those who follow me here know, I am a member of a lovely, supportive, online community called The Oasis (hosted by Jennifer Louden). Every Friday, she creates a wonderful 30-minute audio that offers up some writing prompts, meditation and inspiration. I love these audios. They are a time set apart for me—spacious and welcoming. Like an Oasis, yeah?

The magic and power of these weekly audios is practice things together. We are reminded of deep truths again and again and they slip deeper and deeper into our bodies and spirit.

This week’s audio brought me a very timely reminder to bring my attention to the TRANSITIONS in my day. Especially my transition from work to the evening.

writer in residence sign and Office Hours - Wednesdays 12:00 to 8:00 pm
the door to my office

I am very busy, right now, with many things on my plate each day and I can see myself slipping into old beliefs of time and energy scarcity.
Never enough time.
Never enough energy.

And as these old beliefs took hold, last week, I found a feeling of deliciousness but also danger in…climbing into a warm bath and… watching TV. Oh the decadence of it. Watching NetFlix while having a sweet soaker with scented bubbles. Ahhhhhh—right?

Yes. But.

As a gal who lives mostly without running water, a bath is heavenly for me and my tired brain often tells me that TV is easy and restful. That watching a few episodes of something allows my brain and bod to REST.

I believe that this can be true, but…. not always.

Last week, I noticed that a few episodes can indeed be delicious, but they can also lead to Couch Collapse and many more episodes and I am not revived by this. I actually feel a bit more exhausted. Blergh.

On Friday, I came home from the office around 5:30pm, with burning eyes and feeling done in. I did the bath/tv thing, ate dinner with tv, and found myself laying on the couch late into the night hitting NEXT EPISODE over and over. I started to giggle because I was so obviously in a trance of REVENGE BEDTIME PROCRASTINATION.

Yay for me noticing this.
And double Yay for the Oasis and Jen’s gentle reminder about paying attention to the transitions in my day. It was the transition that led me down the false rest bunny-hole.

As I listened to the audio and worked with the prompts, I remembered that there is another way for me to rest and transition from work that doesn’t eat the entire evening and send me to bed with a draggy weight on me.

When I had my last office/day job, I had a practice of coming home and taking up to an hour either on my meditation bench or laying down to either meditate or listen to a dhamma talk. It was both restful and a nice, mindful, wind-down from the work day.

I know that this is a good thing and am so grateful for the wisdom of … always beginning again.

Yesterday, when I returned home from running some errands the call of the bathtub/tv and the meditation bench felt equally strong.

I chose to lay on the bed and do some metta meditation and send up my dark moon prayers for friends and family.

It was lovely.
Afterwards, I rose up and pulled out my travelling altar goodies and set that up.
Also lovely and somehow hadn’t happened in the rush of the last couple of weeks.

I am here.
I am here.
I am here.

I did watch an episode of tv later. Just one. It was delicious.
Then there was a bath with a book as a wind down before bed. Also delicious.

This week, I intend to be more aware of my tendency to over-schedule myself. May I remain conscious of integrating more space into my schedule.

So grateful that I saw this emerging pattern so quickly. The becoming aware of my patterns is so key for me.

How about you?

What are the things that give you true rest?
What are the things that you THINK give you rest, but can also be not so restful?

What might happen if, just for this week, you paid attention to the mini transitions in your day? Watch the shifting of your focus from one thing to another and what pulls to you in that moment. Are you tired? What might you fall into by default? Is it really what you want/need?

I love hearing from you. Drop me a comment below to let me know how this lands with you or what it brings up.

Have a great week.

go easy ~p


Hello all!

Some fabulous news to share today. I have the honour of serving as the 2022-2023 Writer in Residence at the Regina Public Library.


Can’t stop smiling!

I’ve been dancing for days waiting until the official announcement was made so that I can sing this from the roofters!

Can you tell that I’m OVER THE MOON about this? Mansel and I will be returning to Saskatchewan for nine months and will, once again, be immersed in the fabulous writing community of my home province.

I will be working on a collection of short stories and providing one-on-one mentorships to writers as well as visiting schools and libraries, offering workshops, writing circles, readings and hopefully collaborating with local groups on a raft of amazing things.

The core of the work will be reading and responding to the work of other writers and meeting with them one-on-one to discuss their work and the writing life.

This also means that I will be putting most of my Soul Stories work aside for a time. But I will return—better, stronger, and wiser after this grand adventure.

Here’s the skinny….

For immediate release: August 23, 2021

Regina Public Library selects new Writer in Residence

Regina Public Library (RPL) is pleased to announce the selection of Pam Bustin as its 2022- 2023 Writer in Residence.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Pam Bustin to the library. Her work embodies the curious, collaborative expertise that our Writer in Residence program is known for,” said Millicent Mabi, Director, Community Engagement and Programming at Regina Public Library. “We very much look forward to this chance for her to reconnect with the Saskatchewan writing community.”

Born in Regina, Bustin is an editor, performer, dramaturg, and the award-winning author of the novel Mostly Happy, the stage plays Saddles in the Rain, The Passage of Georgia O’Keefe and barefoot, and the CBC Radio dramas Coffee in Lloyd, The White Car Project, and Talking with the Dead. She served as the Saskatoon Programs coordinator for the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild, sat on the board and dramaturgical committee of the Saskatchewan Playwrights’ Centre. Bustin also regularly provides mentoring for writers through her business Soul Stories.

“My desire is to honour and support the genius of each writer I meet,” Bustin said. “Whether you yearn to take the first step towards developing a writing practice, are starting a new story, or find yourself lost in the woods with a book that you fear you will never finish, I would love to accompany you for a time on your journey.”

Regina Public Library was the first public library in Canada to offer a Writer in Residence program in 1978. Since then, it has welcomed 33 additional residencies to help local writers with personal guidance from an established author.

Pam begins her residency at RPL on September 12. Regina writers can book appointments with her by emailing

Writer in Residence Launch

September 15, 7:00pm
George Bothwell branch, and online

Find out more about how the Writer in Residence can help your writing grow and what Pam
Bustin is looking forward to during her term at the library, through an interview conducted
by previous Writer in Residence Neil Aitken.

For more information, visit

So looking forward to connecting with Regina writers!

Keep scribbling!

Edging toward the 3 Day Novel Contest: Court Your Muse with These Three Questions

Hullo my pretties!

I remember when we had postcards!

Here we are again, almost mid-august and I am thinking about what I might play with during the annual 3 Day Novel Contest.

I haven’t felt the kiss of the Muse in the usual way. No full blown story idea has landed in my heart yet.

There have been a few characters popping up to whisper in my ear. More about their… ways of being in the world… than any specific story they’d like to share with us. But that’s cool. At least they are here, making themselves known, right?

There have been some thoughts of interesting STRUCTURES I might play with.
• What if I make a ZINE?
• What if I do linked stories this year, since I very much want to spend the coming year working on … shorter things.

Today I am here to play with some prompts that might open the door a bit wider for my musing Muse.
I decided to do this “in public” because… Maybe these prompts will help you as well—whether you plan to play with me on the contest weekend, or are just seeking some inspiration and contact with your muse.

OK. Diving in.

What have I been pondering?

LONELINESS The seeming truth that there are so many people in today’s world who feel alone. Who lack connection with others. The pandemic exacerbated this, I imagine, but I have seen it at work in my own life and the lives of others since I landed on this planet. I think of the Hitorigurashi, hikikomori, and the Kodokushi or Lonely Death phenomenon in Japan.

That ongoing blue feeling of … NEVER doing (being) ENOUGH. As so beautifully touched upon in A Psalm for the Wild Built by Becky Chambers. I have wrestled with this feeling my whole life. Wrestled and also simply… sat with it as an existential truth, just part of my existence.

Wow – this feels a bit sad, eh? Hmm.

And yet… to continue in this vein…

My mind is also obsessed with the current CLIMATE–both the climate crisis we find ourselves in and the climate of our country, the big country to the south of us, and so many others. The polarization. The deep anger being felt and expressed by so many citizens.

What am I yearning for?

JOY – simple joys found in nature, in connection with other humans and all manner of beings. This is linked to COMFORT and CONNECTION, I believe.

WAYS TO TEND to others without draining myself. The story tending and the work I do with writers is right up there with tending to family, friends and any being I meet along the way.

all of these tying back to…SIMPLICITY.

What questions might I want to ask (of myself or characters or my readers)?

  • Where do you find joy?
  • What wakes you in the night, or where does your mind go when you find yourself staring at the ceiling at 3AM?
  • Can you share one moment of bliss with me? What was happening? Where were you? Who was with you? How… oh how did it feel. Was it linked to connection? Did you feel at home here on earth?
  • Can you tell me about your despair and will sharing it lighten the load?
  • Can you tell me a funny story? I’d love to hear a funny story.

That would be a nice way to spend a weekend, yeah? In the company of these curious folk. Exploring these questions.

How are things going for you?

If you’re still reaching towards an idea for the labour day weekend, pour yourself a tasty beverage and spend some time with these three questions and see what rises to the surface.

What have I been pondering?
What am I yearning for?
What questions might I want to ask (of myself or characters or my readers)?

I’d love to hear how it goes.

Take care.
Happy scribbling ~pam

30 “stories” in 30 days

Hey there – got an awesome writing prompt to share with me?

After spending YEARS on the novel, I want to turn my heart to some shorter pieces in June.

I am gathering prompts from far and wide and aim to write 30 “Stories” in June. These might be short stories, or a poem, or a blessing… who knows.

I was going to do a challenge offered by The Literal Challenge but sadly, they aren’t offering it this year.  So, I am making my own.

Feel free to toss me a prompt down in the comments or via email. If I use it, I will share the first messy and marvelous draft of whatever I write with you (privately – for your eyes only).


Soul Stories Offerings Summer 2022

Hey there fabulous writer.  Are you looking for some company and support for the summer that won’t break the bank or overload you with HOMEWORK?

I’ve decided I want to offer up something for the next few months that will be LIGHT and yet LOVELY.

I’ve been loving up the Writing Circles that I’ve been running for the last few years.

It started during the pandemic when The Writers’ Union of Canada put out a call for volunteers to run online Writer’s Groups. Based on the co-working I had done with Jen Louden in her fabulous online community The OASIS, I came up with a plan to offer a weekly 90 minute writing session that includes a bit of inspiration, a short meditation, writing sprints and a bit of social time. We call ourselves the Monday Muses, and have been going strong since January 3rd of 2021.

In January of 2022, I began the first Soul Stories Fiction Circle with four other writers. We started with a 12 week frame – meeting once a week to write and every 2 weeks to chat about craft and the writing life. We are now on our second round and … oh man, I LOVE THESE WOMEN! I love the intimacy of our small group, where we can really get to know each other and support each other. I love that I am part of the circle, writing alongside these fierce, funny, fabulous writers.

I created Soul Stories, as a way for me to walk alongside other writers for a time as they bring their stories to the world. The Writing Circles are a great way to this. I also offer more intense things, like full on developmental edits and one-on-one mentoring. But there is a real magic in just… coming together to WRITE. We aim to keep our cameras on (mostly) and there is something about seeing others working that inspires us and helps us hold focus. There is also a nice accountability factor as you get to know the other writers who show up each week.

There is POWER in community.

This summer, I am offering a new writing circle that is open to all writers. I’m calling it Write With Pam.

I’ve also created a straightforward mentorship program that you can buy into monthly called Walk with Pam.

I strive to create a space of wonder and devotion in my circles and one-on-one mentorships.  A place where you will feel safe and supported, heard and understood, as well as challenged so that you can grow and stretch as a writer and take your work to the next level. You will also meet some hella-groovy people if you go the Circle route.

If this appeals at all, pop over HERE and check out my summer offerings.

Maybe we can spend some time scribbling together this summer.

Go easy ~p

The Wonder and the Craft

Working on reVisions to the novel, today. That novel…you remember… the one I began in 2009 and have crafted a million different ways and then…laid aside. The novel I picked up again in January of 2021. Sanctuary.

There is information coming to me today about wonder, about the connection to mystery and about the wisdom of my imagination and how it will bring me that which is beyond what my logical mind can fathom.
I love how our work reveals us, brings gifts to us, unwinds us and reveals our deepest desires.
I need the Wonder and I need the Craft.
The more I learn, the more I can let go.

Of course, there are days when I want to just trance-out and have an entire beautiful story unwind from my pen—a poem retrieved, a novel with many threads that comes together in an intricately woven tapestry with seemingly very little conscious effort.

A girl can dream.

We’ve had some snow today…

The spiral labyrinth I snowshoed onto the river on January 3, 2021

The path to my snow spiral labyrinth was erased in places, as was the spiral itself. Snow and wind. Drifts.
Beginning to walk the spiral – there was barely a hint of a path. It felt like beginning again.

I could sometimes make out an edge and follow along, placing my snow shoe up against a ridge to re-draw the path.

Sometimes there was nothing by white deep drifting for a long section, but looking ahead, I could see the old path and then I would cut a new(ish) trail to meet up with the tracings of the old one.

The centre spot where I stop to rest and pray was entirely drifted in. I walked it flat again and stood awhile.

By the time I walked back OUT of the spiral, the outer ring was almost erased again by the wind.

As I walked home, the tracks I had left an hour earlier were barely visible and I could feel the wind erasing the spiral behind me.

I am back to work on Sanctuary. The novel I began so many years ago and … walked away from… when I took the job with the Family Health Team.
I am re-tracing there too.Trying to find the old path, or cut a new one.

will the path remain?

Step by step, I make my way through this glorious life.
Stay cozy ~p

Why Bother? A Most Excellent Question!

Hey gang!

Hopping online because I am bursting to share this book with you.  In this time of uncertainty and stress, many of us are diving even deeper to our practices of self-reflection and this book has given me solace and challenged me to do some deep thinking about what I do and what I DESIRE to do in the world.

I just finished reading Jennifer Louden’s new book, Why Bother? Discover the Desire for What’s Next.

whybother_jenniferloudenYou know that feeling when you finish a book and your eyes are full of tears and your heart is entirely full of, “Yes.  Yes, I remember now.  Thank you for reminding me.”  That is what I feel right now.

I was given the great blessing of being able to read a copy of Why Bother before it is released to the public.  I am grateful and so honoured to join to the chorus of voices singing the praises of this book and of Jennifer’s work in the world.

  • For anyone who has ever passed through a time when their first thought on waking was, “How long until I can crawl back into bed?”
  • For the numb
  • For the sad
  • For the lonely
  • For those who despair ever being able to craft another book, story, poem, or song; to paint or snap another picture, to dance, or run, or take your next bloody breath without struggling
  • For the next time we lose our way
  • For all of us

This book is both good medicine and an excellent companion.

This book is so many precious things wrapped up in one beautiful, wise, package.

  • It is the heartwarming (and often heart-rending) story of Jen’s own journey thus far.
  • It is a well-drawn map to guide others out of the doldrums and back into the flow of life.
  • It is a poetic and practical How-To Manual with clear simple instructions and delicious prompts that guide us deep inside towards our own wisdom.
  • It is a book to be devoured and then to be returned to again and again to taste and work with as we need to.

But wait…there’s more!

There are also a ton of online resources included as links in the body of the book itself and a crazy heap of bonuses for those who pre-order.

Stuff like:

  • A FREE live online workshop with Jen on May 21, 2020
  • A FREE 5-day online live Why Bother training with Jen in July 2020
  • And immediate access to the first chapter of the book

The launch date for the book is April 21, 2020

You can find the info here:

Staying Put… for now

stay putalongside

today the air is full of noise and fear
chitter chatter
skitter scatter


i take a breath
listen deeper
watch the light move across the wall
trying to hear my own wisdom


making the choice to Stay In Place
here in the hilltop house
in the warmlands
where the roosters crow


I will not close my ears
to the shrieking of the turkey vultures
but i will hear it alongside
~ the dog barking in the distance
~ the mariachi on the radio
~ and Lydia’s grandsons laughing as they play in the sand by the side of the road


I choose to
continue to live
breath by breath
awake to it all




Hullo sweet ones


Yes, we are still in Mexico and our wisest choice right now seems to be to Stay Put.


We are living in a friend’s house on a hill outside of town.
The house is cozy and there is currently no worries about food or toilet paper.
Our flight back to Canada is booked for May 5th and we hope that by then things will have … calmed down.


We may be mistaken about that, but it doesn’t seem to make any sense to scramble for a flight out now.  To travel now seems to be heading into the maelstrom, and putting ourselves and others at risk unnecessarily.
Because to get “home” means…


  1. A bus
  2. A taxi
  3. A plane ride
  4. A large airport to arrive at in a city where we don’t actually live so we would put family at risk by staying with them or have to keep moving on to…
  5. another bus
  6. and a train
  7. to arrive in our sweet town but still needing to put a friend at risk by hitching a ride out to the shaky shack where we would have to dig through mucho snow to get in


and so…



We will stay here and see what comes.

We have registered ourselves with the Canadians Abroad service.
We are keeping in touch via email with friends and family.
We are sending love out to you all.


Take care of each other.


And, as always, go easy ~p


PS – sorry for the low quality pictures – our internet is sort of weak and spotty here.
Finding My Bearings Now

A post-dramatic approach to breast cancer

Starting Over

Because there's never enough time to do it right the first time but there's always enough time to do it over

Ailish Sinclair

Stories and photos from Scotland

Cathy Standiford

Historical fiction, poetry, essays

Finding My Bearings Now

A post-dramatic approach to breast cancer

Starting Over

Because there's never enough time to do it right the first time but there's always enough time to do it over

Ailish Sinclair

Stories and photos from Scotland

Cathy Standiford

Historical fiction, poetry, essays

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