Friday, November 6, 2009

Journaling: A Lost Art

My journalism teacher used to say, "Keep a journal. It'll get the garbage writing out." That mantra stuck with me because he was right — journaling frees you from the burden of thoughts that might be better left for your eyes only. But journaling is good for other reasons, too. It keeps your mind limber and keeps you in the habit of writing daily, or more often, if trends like Twitter are any example. Journaling also gets you in touch with who you are today, not yesterday or last year or ten years ago.

Maybe no writing is garbage writing — okay, some is — but some thoughts and emotions need a place, just not in your stories. Those are about others, unless yours is an autobiography. Journals give personal musings somewhere safe to go. And maybe they will become fodder for a story — the stuff memoirs are made of.

Journaling, like any discipline, also keeps your writing mind limber through regular use. The more we write, the easier, usually, writing is. Easier to start, easier to keep going and easier to see mistakes, provided we review what we've written.

Another perk of journaling is its ability to stop time, so that we can pause and reflect. Poet and professor John Leax said in his sabbatical journal, "I need to remind myself writing poetry is not a career … It is rather a vocation, a calling and a discipline." There's something about sitting down with whatever you use when you write for yourself — I usually use a pen and a spiral pad — you rediscover your life, who you are. And that's worth writing about.

To put today's musing into action, see the writing tip at the top of the list and let me know how it goes.

1 comment:

Americanising Desi said...

i once was so into it but because my privacy was invaded time and again i felt i should learn from 'once bitten twice shy' and give it all up!