Of all the pieces of advice I’ve been offered, this particular gem was the easiest to discard. Possibly because no one ever told me why it was so important.
I’ve tried, off and on.
I started journaling because I was told I could mine the depths of my imagination that way.
Attempt #1. Morning notes.
First thing in the morning, grab your preferred writing tools and jot down whatever comes to mind.
What I learned was that, though I do not consider myself musical, rarely listen to the radio, and do not use a clock radio--I wake every morning with a song in my head. Mostly Top 40. Sometimes Broadway.
I stopped journaling because I bore me.
* * *
I started journaling again because I’m supposed to.
Attempt #2. Random writing.
Sit down and write out your thoughts as a warm-up to the real work of writing a story.
I write a pretty good rant. I can complain about my [redacted.] Before I’ve transitioned into the WIP of the day--oops. I’ve run out of time.
I stopped journaling because I didn’t see any good in it.
* * *
I started journaling again--and maybe this time I’ll keep it up--because finally, I may have discovered a solid reason for it.
Attempt #3. Data gathering.
Record raw facts about the ordinary tedium of the day.
I’ve already learned that navel-gazing is boring and that a rant is not and never will be a story.
This time, I’m looking for life lessons. I can’t assign meaning to today’s crazy-making event. But in a year or ten, I hope to look at my notes and spot a character arc.
I wonder, if I had a record of what I was thinking when I was 25, whether it would be easier now to create well-rounded characters. I remember some stuff, but I think we all revise history because things we do and say are reshaped by the filter of all that has happened since. I want the raw material.
When I write a story, I need a character who starts out with set of one opinions, and through a course of challenging events, changes and grows. At the end of the story, I want my reader to understand what happened. I don’t think the reader will ever get it if I don’t. So for now, I’m journaling in a quest for the truth.
What about you? Did anyone ever advise you to journal? Did they say why? Did I miss the point because, once again, I was too stubborn to listen?
Do you journal? Why or why not? Please share!