I am just starting my spring quarter at Drexel. The one class I am most interested in is the writing fiction class. Like most writing courses, I feel it gives me a lot of new material or helps to open a new way of coming at a particular story. A common theme in all my classes and books on writing has been the creation of a writing journal.
Now, I have a rather vast collection of journals from decades of putting pen to paper. Some just gave an account of the day, while others were feelings that were particularly strong. A few have turned into notes, fragmented thoughts, and possible story ideas. I never had one specifically dedicated to writing.
When I say journaling, I don’t necessarily mean writing down what you did word for word on that day. It is not about what you ate for breakfast or what the weather is like outside. Rather the way that breakfast tasted and why it was so amazing. Describe the blue sky or the cloudy day. It can be mundane things but throw in some descriptive words to make it more alive. The journal is there to catch what you observe and get a little free writing in there as well.
Keeping the journal by your bed is also a great way to hold on to dreams you might have had through the night. Sometimes inspiration hits us with our subconscious thoughts. Another good idea is to write down the thoughts that you have as soon as you wake up. We can have the weirdest thoughts slide through our minds first thing in the morning. Why not write them down?
No need to go out and buy a fancy journal. You can if that is what you want. Admittedly I can not pass up a bound leather journal. I have a few that I only got as far as “This Book Belongs To Gabrielle”. If you prefer a spiral-bound notebook, use that. Perhaps you just like using loose pieces of paper, even napkins, just if you are getting some ideas down, that is all you need. The main objective is being able to catch all those roaming thoughts that can be your next bestseller.
Journaling lends itself to freewriting, but rather than getting out as much as you can, you just get some fragments of the bigger picture. Those fragments can help with a current project or perhaps give in to a new story. These sparks of inspiration come out at the strangest times. I have made it a habit to have the voice recording feature on my phone ready to go. I get some of my ideas while driving. I think it is frowned upon if you whip out a pen and notebook while trying to navigate a circle.
If you need some new ideas or help to get a stalled story moving, journaling might be that extra help you have been looking for. It is also a great pool you can add and come back to later. You never know when you need to pull a character out and use them in a current story. If you have a lot going on in life, like I do, having that journal can be that piece to keep you writing and the words flowing.