Thursday, November 6, 2008

My Best Friend, My Writing Journal

The writing journal concept has been done by both Minion and Maverick before. But, for anyone with a day job, they're vital.

You never know when a thought or an idea might strike, which makes this an important tool for writers with day jobs. I'm rarely without mine, because trust me, you tell yourself you're going to remember that brilliant bit of dialogue that pops into your head while calculating expenditures or that idea to research strong female figures in Spanish folklore while you're in line at the bank. But you won't. It's gone like so much ephemera.

I wasn't much for journaling until college. I'll admit it. I was one of those kids that attempted to write diaries, but was never really successful. They, like my travel journal, were things I lost interest after a few daily entries before forgetting it altogether, and only picked up again after I found it moldering in some pile. But then, my life was certainly not as interesting as the stories I had in my head, and those I went about writing out other ways, but certainly not in a diary.

The professor who insisted on the journal as part of the class told us that once we were out in the "real world," we would "never have time to write the way you do now."

I didn't believe her until I was in the "real world" and a journal was a far easier way for me to keep hold of all those notes and ideas than endless pocketfuls of Post-it notes. Or, forbid, straight out remembering the idea. Not that there aren't loose pages and Post-it notes tucked into my current journal, but it gives me a place to put all that... well, stuff.

I write over lunchtime, on the side during meetings, or when a thought strikes throughout the day, my best friend, the journal, is there to help collect it all.

If you don't believe me, I want you to give it a shot. One month. It doesn't have to be fancy. Small is good, something purse or pocket sized, but don't rule out a good old-fashioned composition book. Take it with you everywhere. Whenever you get an idea, instead of reaching for a napkin or a sticky note, grab your book. At least once a day, put something in it. Something creative. A list of character names. A plot idea. Keep it close and when you have an errant thought, get it down.

You'll find, just as I did, how invaluable that small book can be.

And if you're using it this month, for NANO, watch how much higher your word counts are with it than without. Without it, I'd never be able to work on NANOWRIMO successfully or participate in writing challenges with Minion and Maverick. But more on this next time.

Next time: Secrets to Staying With It: Buddies, Challenges, and NANOWRIMO

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