Good Morning, Shadow visitors! It’s about time for me to talk about another writing topic.
This time, I’m going to discuss a topic that affects all of the writers out there in the vast and dangerous interwebs: Journals.
Or: “Why I hate them.”
It has long been a staple of writing advisers to tell aspiring writers to “keep a journal.” Carry a journal to record your thoughts wherever and whenever they strike. Millions of writers for decades have followed this piece of feel-good advice. Character bits, scenery, plot ideas, quotes: everything and anything that might be useful for later writing just gets put in there, to be trolled and harvested when the mood strikes.
I’ve tried. Lord knows I’ve tried. I like the idea and can appreciate what it can do for some people. I just can’t. It feels a little too much like being the little poetry nerd in High School who is always off by himself, scribbling away in his little notebook. I can’t do it. I wish I could, but I can’t. Not for any length of time, at least.
Not because I’m too cool for it. HAHAHAHAHA. Far from it. On a scale of ZERO to Arthur Fonzarelli, I come in just above Erkel and just below Carlton from “The Fresh Prince.” This is not a vanity thing. I swear it’s not.
It just feels wrong to me. I can’t make myself do it. I feel like if I write a bunch of random things in a journal that they’ll just wind up stuck in there forever, never to see the light of day again, much less appear in a gleaming Word document, surrounded by other ideas that will allow them to flourish and grow.
I even tried keeping a journal just to chronicle my day to day life, with some humorous observations about that life to try to keep things interesting. But that was personal stuff, not creative stuff. Not work stuff. Even that doesn’t last long and eventually falls by the wayside. Occasionally I pick it up again, but it’s a chore every time.
Maybe I have an inverse vanity problem; low self-esteem when it comes to journaling like that. I don’t consider that much of my life worth chronicling on that level. That’s why I’m a writer: I’d rather create than report.
I realize that keeping a journal helps a lot of writers. I get it. I do. I really do. What I’m trying to get at is that there is no handy-dandy, “one-size-fits-all” way to write.
So, if you want to keep a journal, that’s great. Do whatever you need to do to facilitate your writing. If you are a cocktail napkin note-taker, fine (although you might want to drink less…). If you are a note-card on cork-board kind of person: go for it. If you are a fly by the seat of your pants, “Plan? What plan?” kind of writer (guilty), good on you.
Remember, the page is your kingdom. Whether that page is a journal, napkin, note-card, or whatever: tend it and defend it. Make it yours. Make it work for you instead of against you.
Because if you won’t, no one else will.