Journal Junkie Confession
I am about to tell you something I never told anyone before. Please don’t judge me. There are things I do, I can’t stop. I have lost myself in it. My journaling may be out of control. Journals are a good thing, right? I mean, lots of smart people tell us writers should keep journals. Good writers look within for journaling their way to better writing.
Putting words on paper regularly is part of the necessary discipline of writing. A journal is a great way to do that.
The benefits of journaling seem obvious. But maybe, my journaling has gotten out of hand? I blame technology. So, how many journals do I keep? Let me count them.
Sometimes I journal three pages, sometimes I journal thirty pages, but I’m writing all the time, and whatever’s happening is happening in real time for me.
I use Evernote to collect things. I know your thinking, Evernote isn’t a journal. For me it is. I’m a pack rat on crack when it came comes to Evernote. If someone accidentally deletes the internet tomorrow, call me. I may have a backup in my Evernote. I’m always tagging, highlighting, organizing, and annotating my notes. It’s a form of journaling. When I go back in and look at collections I’ve created in the past; I think to myself, who did this? It’s awesome!
I keep a quotes journal — of every sentence that I’ve wanted to remember from my reading of the past 30 years.
Another way I journal is Twitter. Stick with me on this one. Before the word social became such a commodity, people referred to Twitter as microblogging. I tweet for me. I tweet things I find useful. When I get interested in a subject, I tweet about it. It feels good when I get RTs and likes, but what interests me most, is going back and looking at my feed and finding patterns in what I’ve been thinking.
I sometimes start keeping a journal about the writing process itself. Particularly when I get the ideas, and I am trying to brood over the chaos phase. In writing a novel, you really have to brood over a lot of chaos of ideas and possibilities.
Keeping It Real
I also write things in an actual paper journal with a pen, in the art of making recognizable shapes by moving my hand. It’s an ancient technique that is ironically called writing. I feel like my best stuff is in my paper journal. There is magic in paper journals. It won’t happen with a steno pad. You have to have a real tangible journal. In this case, you can judge a book by its cover. Get something that makes you look like a stereotypical tortured author.
Whether you’re keeping a journal or writing as a meditation, it’s the same thing. What’s important is you’re having a relationship with your mind.
Little Things Mean a Lot
I also use an electronic journal called Day One. I use this to collect my first thought when I wake up, and my last thought of the day. Sometimes, midday stuff gets in there too. It’s where my personal stuff goes, and entries like, “I need to go to bed earlier, too tired this morning”. Catching patterns in your life is fascinating. It’s like looking into a digital mirror.
I pretty much drink a cup of coffee, write in my journal for a while, and then sit at a computer in my office and torture the keys. My one saving grace as a writer is that, if I’m having trouble with the novel I’m writing, I write something else, a poem or a short story. I try to avoid writer’s block by always writing something.
I use Google Keep for jotting down things that pop into my head that might be worth saving, but I am not sure. I like Google Keep for the simple reason the notes are laid out in multi-colored tiles. There is a lot more to Google Keep, but that’s what does it for me. And finally, I use iTalk on my phone to journal conversations with myself when I am walking and want to record ideas hands free.
Writing in a journal reminds you of your goals and of your learning in life. It offers a place where you can hold a deliberate, thoughtful conversation with yourself.
Loving Your Addiction
Yeah, that’s a lot of journaling and somewhat embarrassing now that I took the time to write it out. Would I change it? No way! I need it; I crave more of it. Could I do it more efficiently? Probably.
A journal of the ‘subjective’ kind I have always thought foolish, as nurturing a morbid self -consciousness in the writer; and yet, alone so much as I am, it is well to have some sort of a ventilator from the interior.
What I am wondering, does all this journaling help me as a writer, or rob me of time I could be spending cranking out blog posts and book drafts? Am I wasting precious writing time, or am I following in the steps of literary giants?
I think this journal will be disadvantageous for me, for I spend my time now like a spider spinning my own entrails.