Write Your Own Story & Begin Your Journaling Journey

Image via Unsplash

How do you spend your free time? Instead of sleeping away your Saturday, consider slowing down and setting your intentions. Whether you use a decorative bullet journal or just scribble away on a tablet, writing down your thoughts can help you reflect on your feelings, stay present and find purpose. 

Creator of the Community
Image courtesy of Emily Chertow

Former Penn Stater Emily Chertow hosted three pop-up journaling classes this past weekend in State College. VALLEY had the pleasure of attending the Saturday session held at Webster’s Bookstore downtown. The class was held in a cozy corner of the shop; a long table was decorated with pens, colorful flowers and delicious food to eat. There were 15 chairs set up and every seat was filled.

Introducing herself to the group, Chertow said she grew up in State College and was a broadcast journalism major. She now lives in New York City and works as a Community Manager for the Washington Post. While the journaling classes she hosts are a side hustle, they play an important role in her life.

Chertow confessed that, although she really loved being a student at Penn State, a part of her always felt out of place.

There were moments in my four years where I would get so caught up in the pressure of what was next, anxieties of having a social life, being spread thin in extracurriculars and managing my actual class load…. Penn State is a great school but it can also be a place that you feel so isolated.

After moving to NYC, she still felt a sense of loneliness, despite being surrounded by so many people. Chertow has always had a love for journaling, and she created these sessions as a way to bring a community of people together. She wanted these journaling classes to exist as an opportunity for others since it was something that she needed in college but didn’t have. 

Writing Prompts
Image courtesy of Emily Chertow

Once the event started, Chertow had everyone make nametags using crayons in order to bring out their “inner child.” The group then went around and introduced themselves and their intentions for the class. Next, Chertow gave the group prompts to guide them in their writing; one prompt was to write about your current state of being and the emotions that come with it.

Everyone participating could share as much or as little as they liked. Some prompts allowed people to discuss their feelings with the group, while the responses to other prompts were left unspoken. Getting to talk and listen to the others at the table was a comforting and easy way to connect on a personal level — you never know how similar you might be or what you can learn from someone else. 

Chertow is always grateful for the people who attend her classes, as they allow her to share her passion. However, she also reminds the guests to thank themselves for coming; she considers it a “beautiful act of self-care” to physically show up in a space that is unfamiliar and vulnerable. Journaling is a way to slow down and put your feelings into words. Chertow explains that it’s one of her favorite forms of self-care because it allows her to tap into the mind and soul.

It’s easy to get caught up in the chaos and rush of life; when we journal, we are forced to reflect and slow down. In order for us to keep growing, we have to process things going on in our day to day and journaling is a great tool in doing so.


The entire session was full of love, openness and a desire to be present. As Chertow described, her motto is that she “likes to be where her feet are.” Staying present, although it can be difficult at times, allows us to see life in a new light. No matter who you are, it’s important to make a conscious effort to do whatever it is that brings happiness to your heart. 

If you are interested in keeping up with Chertow and want to learn more about journaling, feel free to follow her social media:





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