Journal Writing I
“Writing a Journal is a great way to find out who you are.”- SD Wilson
When I was eleven, W.O. Mitchell visited my elementary school, and told us, “if you want to be a writer when you grow up, start writing a journal now.” At the time, I had no idea what becoming a writer meant, but I decided to keep a journal anyway because it just sounded like a cool idea.
Since that day, I’ve kept a journal which has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, along with being an essential tool of the trade.
Get to "Know Thyself"
Why is journal writing personally rewarding?
Because it's a play-space to investigate your own mind, feelings and imaginings. Sometimes you write something down and it comes to pass. Sometimes it comes to pass, and you write it down. Either way, it's an interchangeable contribution to your life. After, you can read it and say, "oh that's how I feel." So, it's the perfect venue to unwind your mind and even find out what you think about the world.
One of the greatest assets for a writer is to, 'Know Thyself'. True, but how?
Keep a journal. It will help you find out more about who you are, because it's a private space. Journal writing also requires you to slow down and take a deeper look, which is exactly what every writer must do. When we slow down, we see the world through a different lens. And then again, when you're writing (a poem, prose, et cetera) and you need a particular detail (time, place, person, or thing), you can go back to your journal and find applicable passages, which is super useful!
I will go into greater detail in Journal Writing II.
If you want to be a working writer—it’s important to write—a lot! And a good way to get into this practice is the legendary journal.
Prompt: Create the space and place to write.
Find the Perfect Place to Write
First and foremost, find the perfect writing receptacle.
There’s the old-fashioned way, in a notebook, and there is the electronic form. What matters most is that it’s a private place, for your eyes only. And next, that you enjoy going there and being there, in creative exploration.
Since 1988 my journal-of-choice has been a blank, hardbound, unlined, 8.5 X 11, artist sketch book. I love the tactility of the page—how it feels under my hand and pen. I also enjoy the size of this page, so I can play with large or small text and images, expressing ideas in different ways.
Images are an important aspect of all writing, as they bring narrative alive, make it believable. So, for me, the sketch book is a constant reminder of what I'm looking for and playing with—images. In a sense my journal acts as an invitation to sketch my inner and outer perspective!
If you prefer the electronic form: There are several dedicated journal and diary apps for you to check out. I recommend you make them password protected.
Either way, avoid little snippets or scrapes of paper that pile up and become a burden.
Prompt: Go to a public space where you can sit comfortably and covertly, like a spy. Open your receptacle. With words write write you see—about your surroundings. Think: If someone were to read these notes later, how do I make them feel as if they're in the exact place I am now. Remember to include all of your senses.
Catch the Muse
Equate keeping a daily journal, to being a dancer in the studio practicing steps. In that way, if a choreographer asks for a series of difficult combinations, you're ready. It’s important for a writer to stay in shape for the moment the muse strikes. And when it does, be you'll ready to catch the muse stream with stealth precision and exactitude.
Prompt: Make a list of subjects that interest you.
- Dreams and Surrealism
- Landscapes and Landmarks
- Things that move, provoke or irk you
- Metaphysical observations
- Ceremonial ideas
Look everywhere around you for evidence, or quirky facts, about one of your subjects. Keep notes. See what happens.
Your list will likely grow. It is important you write about the things that interest you.
Prompt: What subject would you like to delve deeper into? What's the first thought that jumps into your mind. Write it down on the top of a page. Start to find out everything you can about that subject.
If you want to be a writer, write.
A Daily Practice is Essential.
Begin the Journey. Start a Journal.
Become a Writer.
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Sheri-D Wilson, D. Litt
Every fortnight, I send out a free blog post with my best tips to inspire you to write/tell your own story, and to suggest ways for you to present your words with confidence and panache.