My journal is my place to let go of formal constraints,
to be crazy and creative, to take off my masks,
to be me, to find me.
-Lynn G. Nelson
I’ve been writing on journals since I was a teenager, and if anything, it is the one thing in my writing life that has remained constant. But after one has spent decades writing on journals, there’s a danger that it could become just another tedious chore. That’s why it’s important to have an arsenal of techniques and various ways of writing on a notebook. Here are some that I’ve practiced through the years:
- The journal as a dumping ground: for rants during confusing times, and those moments when I just want to let it all out.
“Use your journal as a garbage can. Discard your angers, your fears, your doubts, your frustrations by writing about them in your journal. This will lessen their power over you. You will feel better.” – Lynn G. Nelson
- I use the journal as a lens through which I see the world from a different perspective.
“Carry your journal like a camera. Collect careful little “word photos”—the child’s face in the bus 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. – Lynn G. Nelson
- I hold my own 21-day writing challenges. One of the most fascinating challenges I gave myself was to write about the view from my window for 21 days.That produced so much good writing that surprised me.
“Try writing a description of what is outside your window for twenty-one days. Train your your eye as if you were looking through a camera or had a paintbrush in your hand.” -Barbara Abercrombie
- I have several journals on my desk: a spiritual journal, a nature journal, a tiny haiku notebook, another tiny notebook for writing six-word memoir, a haibun journal, a specially hand made (by me) notebook where I write little missives to myself, a notebook for poems, a journal for those special-light bulb moments, and a notebook where I write questions that pop into my head every now and then.
“But do worms and metaphors belong to 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 Maumoto
- I wrote to someone on my journal everyday. When I was young I came across a book entitled, Dear Daddy Long Legs. I loved reading through the letters of a young lady who was sponsored through schooling by a mysterious man. Although I was disappointed with the ending – the usual “and they lived happily ever after….” reading through the epistolary novel made an impact on me. A couple of years ago, I decided to begin a journal of letters to a God that I wanted to know…never mind if I knew he is an unknowable God. I recently ended that journal writing series, so I am now searching for a new journal writing adventure. Suggestions, anyone?
As you write, remember that your journal is a private place,
a safe place, and that there you do not need
to impress anyone with either your writing or your being.
There is no need to pretend.
You can make no “mistakes” in your journal.
Your journal is a personal and intimate tool,
and each person’s journal, like each person,
is unique in its ways and its unfolding.
– Lynn G. Nelson in “Writing and Being”
Linking to the Daily Post’s Discover Challenge:Adventure