Tag Archives: journal writing

The Art of Journaling

I’ve just read Eva Luna by Isabel Allende. It’s typical of Allende’s writing: rich, erotic and inventive. Towards the end of the novel, Eva Luna, explains her intent in writing, ‘I try to open a path through that maze, to put a little order in that chaos, to make life more bearable. When I write, I describe life as I would like it to be.’

This statement really resonated with me because I often ask myself, and other writers that I know, why write? This got me thinking about journaling.

This is me in the 70s, always jotting, drawing or reading. Haven’t changed much!

Journaling is a great way to put a little order in the chaos that might be happening around us. It doesn’t have to be the makings of a written piece for anyone else’s eyes but it can help the writer find ways to articulate what they want to say. My own experience with this is that I find kernels of good material that can be used in my writing that will be put in front of readers.

The idea of journaling is to dump ideas, thoughts and feelings onto the page. I suggest that these pages are hand written because you will be more in tune with what you are doing. It’s also great to get away from the computer. This is NOT the time to censor yourself or to worry about the state of the writing. If you start doing this, you won’t free flow. Remember this is not literary mastery but a way to get to the core of who you are and where you are. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar or complete sentences.

If you write in a free way for five to ten minutes, you’ll be amazed what comes out. It’ll be choppy to start with and you may feel a little stumped. If this happens, write about the mundane things that happened during the day and you’ll find that it becomes easier in a few minutes.

If you really can’t think of anything to write about, record what you are grateful for. Describe these things in as much detail as you can. In my journal there are little things like the joy of slipping between freshly laundered sheets or a description of our puppy chewing on a toy. Another way to get into the flow is to write about events from your childhood. They can be happy or sad. Be sure to use all the senses when describing the events. This task will unearth thoughts and feelings that you haven’t considered for many years.

Don’t be frightened by dark things that might come up. By writing through it you will find light to shine onto the darkness. These are the times when you can explore the darkness in a safe environment.

Showing up to the page every day will create good writing habits. Journaling can be a great segue into better emotional wellbeing as well as unearthing some great insights that can be transferred into other writing projects.


Writing Matters

imagesFor me, the need to write builds up. I’ve started to think that if I don’t write when it gets built up, that the safety valve won’t hold. If I leave it too long I start to get agitated and mean about things around me. I guess it must be like running for some people, or even sex. It’s a form of release.

So lately, when I’ve been wondering if I read too much and am not really a writer, I’ve been fooling myself. Maybe I was hoping that it was true to let me off the hook. After all, I wouldn’t begrudge being allowed to read more than I already do. But I find that if I go more than a week, my brain starts to get crowded with the myriad ideas and thoughts that should be put down on paper (word doc). I’m by no means a prolific writer and the words I get out aren’t necessarily of much use to anyone but they are my thoughts and if I don’t do something with them, the safety valve is tested.

This has been my aha moment today: being a writer doesn’t mean that you have to write amazing material that can be turned into something that others may read, or the next great Australian novel. Being a writer is a form of expression like baking a cake, building a pergola or creating a rose garden. Creative expression is a fundamental part of what it is to be human and a way for us to make sense of the world.

The writing that I get out in my usual haphazard way may or may not be used as material for a more important piece of writing, like a short story or novel, but it doesn’t matter. I enjoy playing with ideas, playing with words. Sometimes I’ll just move words around, write out interesting titles, makes lists of ideas. For instance, I was looking for a word that could be used instead of ‘event’ because it didn’t feel like the right word. So I made a list of the synonyms: occurrence, incident, event, episode, happening. Then I had fun playing with those words in my head. Every word in the English language makes me ‘feel’ something, so studying and playing with those words was a lot of fun.

At other times I might write a few lines that discuss something that interests me that could become the seed for a story. Often these things come to me in the shower or while I’m driving. If I don’t get these ideas down, I forget what might be great little kernels for a story or a chapter in a novel.

Like many forms of expression, there is the need to justify any time devoted to them. Writing is no exception and many writers feel that if they aren’t earning money from their craft that it isn’t worthwhile. I say do what makes you happy. For me it’s the world of stories. The writing and the reading of them.

UnknownPS: Last week, when I wasn’t writing, I was reading The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I’m starting to think that this is the next trend in writing after bad erotic fiction (50 Shades of what the? And hours I wish I had back). Bit of stalkerism, bit of crazy man/woman, bit of thriller. I did enjoy this page-turner although the end wasn’t really a surprise. Hawkins tries to put a few red herrings into the plot but they don’t really work. This doesn’t make it less readable but I wondered why she’s done it. The main character, Rachel, is pretty annoying and I did feel like yelling at her a few times but people are flawed and that’s what we like to read about.
Rating 3/5