Friday, May 6, 2011

Writers' Journals

My first (left) and second (right) journal
So, this week has been my finals week ending my freshman year of college. A summary of the week so far includes: studying, not eating, choir practices, 2 hour long exams, getting sick, losing my voice, and, I saved the best for last, moving out of the dorm room. It was while cleaning my room and rearranging the furniture yesterday that I stumbled a journal that I finished first semester. I immediately was tempted to sit down and start reading through all the old entries, but I forced myself to move on. Today, I have three hours until my family arrives, and having read through the journal, I felt inspired to turn to you guys.

I have something embarrassing to tell you guys...

...that journal was my first journal finished.

I know! I know! I'm supposed to be a writer. Isn't that what writers do, keep journals? Well, I've always had a ton of gripe over this belief, and I wanted to know if this presupposition of mine had any evidence or was totally fabricated out of movies and books. Below are a few questions I have about your journals, if you do keep them. To start the conversation, I've answered them myself, but I'd love to see your guy's answers in the comments or in a link to your blog! If you don't keep a journal, I'd love to hear your reasoning why! You can know for sure that there will be no judging coming from me :)

So you keep a writer's journal. Have you finished any?
I've started plenty (killed way to many trees to just leave 50 pages of empty paper!), and gotten halfway through a couple, but I've only completely filled one journal, page to page, with ink (or lead). I'm quite proud. And I love it dearly. And plan to never let it go.

For what period of time did your journal(s) span?
Guessing from the content of the page (a page from my story Vapors of Emotion), I'm guessing late 2009. By the end of the journal, I started putting in the date periodically, so I know that I finished the journal on 14 October 2010. I started my second journal the day after :)

Do you have separate journals for separate subjects, or do you write everything in one journal at a time?
Everything slammed together in one. I prefer to see a continuum of thought, being able to see what was on my mind from day to day. Subjects vary from drafts of pages to a dream I had to to quiet times to poetry (though not a lot!). I kind of bend that rule by keeping a much smaller spiral notebook in my purse to jot down quotes, words, or thoughts that come to me throughout the day. 
(I forgot! I also keep a prayer journal. That one is definitely kept separate.)

Are there any preferences you have in journaling (i.e. lined pages, dating the pages, format of journal, paginated, bookmark, etc.)?
My writer's journals always have to be lined because, without the lines, I tend to doodle instead of write words. I've also gotten into dating the pages, but it's not the first thing I do when I write. Depending on the subject matter, I might just skip putting the date down.
Otherwise, I'm not too picky. My first journal had a magnet to keep the cover down and a pocket for loose papers. My present one doesn't have anything to keep it closed (any people who love those journals that lock? :3) and has no pocket. It's very simple, but I have started to staple in outside sources of paper to relevant pages. This might be something I wrote on looseleaf paper in class or a bookmark or a postcard I liked. It all depends on what I'm writing about. 
Also, very sorry to the trees, but I'm not super picky about if the paper is recycled. I'll get it if it's cheap, that's about it. (Coincidentally, my present journal is made of recycled paper and is part of the Trees for the Future plan. This is where a tree is planted for every journal bought. Neat, eh?)

Any pet peeves for journaling?
YES. I ask this to myself because it's a very big thing to me. I can't stand it when people write on both sides of the paper. Again, people are shouting at me "Tree killer!" but I can't help it. If you start a new subject, start on the front side of a new page. When you write a cover for anything at all, you never put it on the back of the first page. That's just ridiculous. I will write on the back of a page if it's of the same context and I'm writing in pen. Pencil tends to smudge, and if two pencil pages smudge together, I can loose the meaning of both pages.

Well, that's about it! I'm about 1/3 done with my present journal which means I might be done with my second one a year from now. But I'm not too worried. I've already got my first one finished.


  1. Journaling is a personal choice. Despite what you see on TV, it's not de rigeur for writers. I don't keep a journal, and I never have. Journals are generally something you write for yourself. Professional writers write for an audience, which takes a different set of skills. Journaling certainly doesn't hurt, and it can be beneficial in many ways. But people who don't keep a journal shouldn't feel like they need to start one if they want to be a professional writer. I don't write anything unless it's with the goal of making money. But practicing your craft is always a worthwhile pursuit.

  2. So you only commented on this post to make money?

    Ok. Sorry. I had to play on that comment ;) I don't know how you think you're going to make money off of my blog, but if you do, more power to you!

    Glad to hear from a non-journaler! I think there is a definite pressure to keep journals for spiritual, social, and therapeutic benefit. Growing up with the Disney channel, it seemed that all sisters kept diaries and all journalist nerds kept journals. I am a sister and author, so why didn't I keep a journal? I think the reason why I never finished those other journals was because I was writing them for the wrong reasons. Now, I write journals because paper has such a perfect memory, unlike myself. Journaling is more like having a second brain than anything else.