The Journal of Expressive Writing is a new online literary journal focused on expressive writing in any form originated from a writing prompt. “Expressive writing—also called emotional writing—is the process of writing about personal and emotional events without regard to form, structure, spelling, grammar, or punctuation. Essentially, it is free-writing, often inspired by a prompt, poem, or piece of literature.” Submissions are open year-round on a rolling basis and new work is published weekly.
I wanted to know more about what they are up to, so I asked Founder and Editor-in-Chief Jennifer A. Minotti a few questions to find out. See my interview with Minotti and a link to submission guidelines below.
HOPKINSON: Tell me a little bit about Journal of Expressive Writing.
MINOTTI: Founded in 2020, the Journal of Expressive Writing is the first online literary journal to publish expressive writing, free writing, non-fiction, personal essay, memoir, reflective essay, poetry, prose, contemplative discourse, and creative non-fiction—all that originate from a writing prompt—by both established and emerging writers.
HOPKINSON: How/why was the Journal of Expressive Writing originally started?
MINOTTI: After years spent conceptualizing an online literary journal dedicated specifically to publishing the stories that were inspired in my Women’s Writing Circles, I realized amid COVID-19 that there’s no better time to begin than now. Many of us not on the front lines have asked ourselves how we can best be in service to others. I quickly realized that publishing this online journal was the best way I could combine my experience and passion to make a difference.
Long before the pandemic, I felt that many of our most basic social and emotional needs were being replaced by desires that accompany the money-oriented, fast-paced, noisy modern-day world. Many people were already anxious, afraid, lonely, and uncertain. For millions of people who are struggling with the recent loss of stability, those feelings of loneliness, isolation, and fear have intensified.
But expressive writing can help. Expressing our emotions through writing can help us make sense of our lives. It can ground us. It can help us manage our emotions and make room for empathy, gratitude, forgiveness, and joy. Opening ourselves up to new perspectives and narratives, expressive writing helps support our healing process and illuminate un-awakened parts of us. It can shift our mindset and help us feel more connected to others. To give and receive our stories, unconditionally, especially at this moment, may be one of the most valuable gifts we give ourselves. It may also help bridge political, class, and racial divides.
To read more about how it started, go to: https://wholebeinginstitute.com/expressive-writing-managing-emotions/
HOPKINSON: Who is your target reader audience?
MINOTTI: Anyone, really. I suppose the readers who would appreciate this form of writing the most would be people who enjoy personal essay, memoir, truth-telling, and free-writing.
HOPKINSON: What type of work are you looking for?
MINOTTI: I want to hear from writers who have a story to tell … whose voice can no longer be quieted … whether by the inner dialogue they have told themselves for decades or from those around them … for those who have been systematically ignored … whose parts may be broken, but their sum total is absolutely perfect … for they are courageous and vulnerable and willing to step outside of their comfort zone … because they can no longer stay silent. These are the writers I want to hear from, whether their writing is “finished” or “not.”
We publish expressive writing, free writing, non-fiction, personal essay, memoir, reflective essay, poetry, prose, contemplative discourse, and creative non-fiction—all that originate from a writing prompt—by both established and emerging writers. We do not accept fiction. Word count is flexible, but the length should be no more than what can be generated in a 20-minute free-write.
To learn more about what is expressive writing, go here: https://www.journalofexpressivewriting.com/about
HOPKINSON: What do you wish you’d see submitted, but rarely comes in?
MINOTTI: I’ve been receiving such an array of beautiful expressive writing from a diverse set of authors. All voices wanted, which is the point to this journal. I especially would like to hear from BIPOC, LGBTQIA, persons with disabilities, and/or other marginalized writers looking for a space to share your voice. I can ensure they have that space in the Journal of Expressive Writing!
HOPKINSON: What are some of your favorite lit mags/journals?
MINOTTI: Sun Magazine has been my favorite publication for over a decade. I love the integrity of the publication and the fact that they do not take advertisers. I also love their honesty, truth-telling, very real stories. And their monthly writing prompts inspired me many years ago and so I want to give them a huge shout out as a publication I deeply admire and model my own work off of. As a mother, I also really enjoy online lit magazines that provide a platform for mothers to write about real issues. This includes Literary Mama and Brain, Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers. Of course, who also doesn’t love The New Yorker?!
HOPKINSON: What is your favorite part of being on staff with the Journal of Expressive Writing?
MINOTTI: As the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Expressive Writing, I love being able to provide a platform and space for writers to tell their stories. For me, the journal is the merging of my passions for expressive writing, positive psychology, community organizing, mental health, and social activism. It also enables me to provide a space for people to publish their writing, even when it’s not perfect. That’s not the point. The point is to share their voice with the world, at that given time, and to use expressive writing to heal themselves and others. Often writers in my Women’s Writing Circles wish to publish what they wrote, but the publishing world can often be daunting and discouraging for new writers. The Journal of Expressive Writing enables new and emerging writers—along with established writers—to get their work out there, often but not always, for the first time. The writing that I have received to date has been from new writers and also writers with incredibly illustrious careers as writers, teachers, and poets.
In addition, I believe our personal and collective power is in sharing our stories with others. When we share our writing, not only do we heal our own past traumas, we also engage in what Arlene Goldbard calls “community cultural development.” A decades old field whereby communities convene through shared concerns and aspirations in response to social issues, sharing our stories has the capacity to reshape and bind our communities. Our connections to and perceptions of others change. We become more empathetic and loving towards each other. Beloved social psychologist Brené Brown agrees. She believes vulnerability and empathy manifest when we hold spaces where deep listening takes place, spaces where we intentionally let others know that their words and voices are heard—That we see them. We hear them. That they are not alone.
Rachel Naomi Remen feels the same way. She writes in Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories that Heal, “When I was a child, people sat around kitchen tables and told their stories. We don’t do that so much anymore. Sitting around the table telling stories is not just a way of passing time. It is the way that wisdom gets passed along. Despite the awesome powers of technology, many of us still do not live very well. We may need to listen to each other’s stories once again.”
I believe our stories are the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves and others!
To read more about why I do this, and the Women’s Writing Circle (which I also founded to serve a similar goal as the Journal), you can also go to: http://womenswritingcircle.org.
HOPKINSON: Where can folks send submissions?
MINOTTI: The submissions guidelines can be found here, where writers can also submit their work online: https://www.journalofexpressivewriting.com/submissions
HOPKINSON: If someone has a question, how can they contact you?
SUBMISSION DEADLINE: Rolling/year-round
SUBMISSION FEE: None
FORMS: expressive writing, free writing, non-fiction, personal essay, memoir, reflective essay, poetry, prose, contemplative discourse, and creative non-fiction
SUBMISSION METHOD: online form
SOCIAL MEDIA: Twitter