Journaling


Spring surprises

Spring surprises

Journaling is something I’ve been doing for a very long time. It’s not a formal writing form, although in the past, keeping a daily diary of one’s activities was considered de rigeur for a lot of people.
Most of the time, it’s simply putting your private thoughts and ideas into written form, so that later, you can review what you wrote. If something important happened — a birth, a death, the an important even like an earthquake — it can show up in your journal.
When I was in high school, one teacher wanted us to keep a journal without telling us that at the end of the semester, we had to turn it in. I thinK I was 14 and had nothing to say, so I kept a scrapbook instead and turned that in. She didn’t like it. She said it had nothing personal in it. She wanted to know how I thought. I told her it was none of her business and all she would get from me was the scrapbook. I was quite rebellious, you see, but even now, I would never hand over my privacy like that. Journaling is not, and never has been, meant for public display. It’s your private stuff.
What journaling does is release you from the strictures of day-to-day life. You can use it to vent your frustrations with a lot of things. It harms no one and lowers your frustration levels.
There’s something else it does which I’ve found invaluable. It’s a tool for creative writing. It’s a jumping-off point that you can use as a place to make notes on whatever you’re working on now, or plan to work on in the future. If you have several projects going at once, you can copy those notes to a file for each of those projects and delete what doesn’t apply. I do this all the time now. Right in the middle of making a boring daily ‘didn’t rain again today’ entry, I will remember a story I started a while back about a mysterious stranger next door who goes out onto his back porch and basks in the rain, but stays out of sight when the sun shines.
So you see, journaling isn’t necessarily about life’s day-to-day tasks and who did what, who caught cold, who lost a tooth or got an “A” in something. It’s also a place to crank up your ideas and get them committed to existence.
All my ideas, my notes, and my rambling copy related to writing books go into files related to the stories I’m working on. And if I can’t come up with anything clever to put into a manuscript, I will do some journaling anyway, because I just might find myself face to face with a bright idea.
When to do it? Any time you think about it. I found it useful to e-mail stuff to myself at home while I was still working, because then I copied it to journal pages on my hard drive. All that stuff rattling around in my head, all those ideas for stories, all the references I came up with — all of it is there for as long as I want it. The nice part is that it wasn’t just my daily life at work. A lot of it was related to what I do now, creating fiction, and I consider every second of it worth the time I spent on it.

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