I don’t remember exactly when I began writing on a journal. Unlike some writers who remember the precise time and day when they first wrote on their first journal, journal writing crept into my life slowly and unceremoniously.
But if I am ever to lay claim to the title “Writer,” the only viable reason I can give is that I have been a journal writer most of my life. It is the only writing activity that I have constantly practiced since I was young.
In my younger years, journal writing had been a venting place where I could write without abandon about things that confused, saddened and angered me. Later on, it became a safe place where I could write about the deep secrets that I could not share with anyone. In my adult years, when I worked as a photojournalist, then as a journalist, the journal was my constant companion through my travels to the jungles, the mountains, and into other people’s lives. I wrote in hotel rooms, at tiny eateries in the hinterlands, in the darkness of a balmy Bornean night; through sunshine, rain and typhoons, my journals had been my ubiquitous companion.
Although I didn’t realize it then, journaling had become the single most romantic, unpredictable and long-lasting affair I’ve been involved in,
Why do writers keep a journal? For a variety of reasons, certainly. Here are some writer’s thoughts on journal writing:
Carry your journal like a camera. Collect careful little “word photos” – the child’s face in the window, the morning moon above the rush-hour traffic, the people running from the rain. You will begin to see more than you ever saw before. And it will all become precious to you. –G Lynn Nelson, in Writing and Being
When you write a little each day (‘jour’ means day in French), journaling becomes a daily practice.
Journal writing is practice and much more. With words you give life to what you see, what you hear, what you touch. In this way you transform the outer thing that you see or touch into something inner. You bridge the outer and inner worlds, the visible and the invisible. This is the gift of journaling. Your daily life calls you in a thousand directions; journal writing centers you. You slow down and write. You learn to look anew at the world around you. –Susan M. Tiberghien in One Year to a Writing Life
Typically, my poems are triggered by images recorded in my journal, images often received long before a poem begins. –Linda Bierds, in The Writer’s Journal, edited by Sheila Bender
I feel writers should keep journals because when we begin to lose a sense of private pleasure, the assurance of a sacred space exists in a journal. There is only the purity of unstudied thought. -Brenda Hillman in The Writer’s Journal, edited by Sheila Bender
But do worms and metaphors belong on the same page? I’ve written some of my best stories about worms – but I keep a different type of farm journal in addition to my writing journal. No one said I couldn’t have more than one. -David Mas Masumoto in in The Writer’s Journal, edited by Sheila Bender