Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Why Writers Should Keep A Personal Journal

Do you journal?  If not, perhaps you should.  Consider these reasons for writing in a personal journal:

1-Your audience is yourself.  This gives you a different kind of freedom than any other medium.

2-A Journal is a great Writer's Block Remedy.  Use Stream of Consciousness exercises to keep the pen moving--just write anything that enters your thoughts.

3-You can safely detail all the gory drama of rejection letters (and the lack of rejection letters that has the same meaning!).

4-Journals are portable (unless, of course, you journal on the computer...see end discussion!).

5-You can record incoherent phrases and incomplete sentences that won't mean anything to anyone but you.  Two or three word ideas for stories, refrains that pop into your head while you were showering, or names for characters can be jotted down any time you can steal a moment.

6-You can include pictures and diagrams.  Character sketches, pedigree charts, and signs on the street can be added as central entries or doodles in the margin.

As you can tell from #4 and #6, I am a fan of old-fashioned, pen and paper journaling.  I have two journals:  my personal journal and my writing notebook.  The notebook is a spiral bound notebook for ideas and portable writing.  The personal journal is an art sketchbook that I use for writing anything else.

Journals have been around for centuries.  Do you use a journal?  Is it paper or computer?  I'd love to know!


Corey Schwartz said...

I don't at the moment, but I did for a while after reading The Artist's Way. That book highly recommends "morning pages" .. three pages of stream of consciousness by hand as a way to unblock your mind and free up creativity.

D U Okonkwo said...

Very true - you hear it from numerous writers that all writers should if not keep a journal, then a notebook. You never know when an idea will strike.

I tend to get a lot of ideas while partway between sleep and wakefulness in the morning, so have taken to keeping a notebook near my bed!

Laura Marcella said...

I've been journaling since about 2nd grade. I love it that when I need to remember something from the past, I know I'll find it recorded in my journal! Journals are fantastic memory keepsakes. :)

Carla said...

Corey, morning pages sound like a great idea. I had an English class that started with 1/2 page of stream of consciousness. At the time, it seemed like so much, but now I love the idea!

DU, I think a notebook by the bed is a great idea!

Laura, I completely agree! I've also been journaling since early elementary school, though I hate to admit that there have been months and even years when I was sadly negligent. I do enjoy re-reading entries from the past!


Grillyfish said...

I never thought of it as keeping a journal but I have always kept a notebook and pen within easy reach for any random thoughts that flit through my head. I soon realised that if I didn't capture them immediately they were gone forever...

Bethany Mattingly said...

I don't journal on a regular basis. I do journal during hectic or crazy moments in my life so I can get some sense of order. Great list! I should try writing journal style more often.

Elle Strauss said...

I've kept a journal for many years, but there's nothing creative about it. It's mostly for rants and prayers, so a lot of it repetitive :) Plus I write really small and messy so it's impossible for anyone else to read it. Hard even for me sometimes.

Alison Stevens said...

I journal irregularly. I started doing morning pages (ala The Artist's Way) a little over a year ago, and I found them tremendously helpful in stimulating my creativity. Now I write when I'm stuck and need to get over a hump. But when I'm working on an ms, I prefer to go straight to the computer and channel my creativity into the story. :)

Carla said...

Grillyfish, It amazes me how fast an idea can disappear! Good for you for writing them down!

Bethany, I think I'm just opposite...and I need to work on it! When things get busy I start dropping things, and journaling is one. Then I look back and wish I had a better record!

Elle, I think just writing it (even if you don't go back to read it) is a good thing.

Alison, I know what you mean about wanting to focus on a project you have at hand! Sometimes I want to drop everything (including cleaning and dishes...) to finish a ms!


Murees Dupé said...

Great idea! I don't keep personal journals anymore but I do keep writing journals and I am a pen and paper kind of girl too. All my writing ideas and my first true draft of a novel is done long hand. Crazy I know.

Carla said...

Murees, A whole novel by hand is amazing! Maybe a bit crazy, but seriously amazing.


Mayra Calvani said...

I love journaling, Carla. I find it so relaxing and healing as well. Sometimes I do 'Morning Pgaes' but sometimes I enjoy journaling before going to bed. It sets the mood for my sleeping time and gives me great sense of closure for the day.

Carla said...

What a great idea for ending the day, Mayra! I hadn't thought of it as a way to create closure, but I love that concept.


Wanda said...

I'm not a professional writer but I've kept a journal since I was a teen.

Carla said...

Wanda, That's so neat! Nice work!


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