Writers: do you write in a diary/journal?

Written in moleskine.JPG

Journals, diaries, notebooks, ideabooks, whatever-you-call-’ems have always given me mixed feelings. I’ve been *trying* to write a consistent journal since I was a kid, but all too often the deed feels like homework. At the end of a long day, you just want to kick back, relax, and watch cat videos, not think about what word describes your day the best.

It makes me feel guilty. And kind of…inadequate. Because I actually write a lot of fiction in my spare time—hey, I might even consider myself a writer—and most writers from Samuel Pepys to Anne Frank have journaled diligently. It seems like a healthy habit too; how many times have I had brilliant ideas during the day only to have them vanish into the ether a week later? If only I had written stuff down.

I do carry a small Moleskine with me in my purse in case a really good idea comes to me while I’m out. Otherwise, I have a big stack of barely-written-in notebooks of random beginnings of things. Lots of “chapters ones,” if you know what I mean.

But I’ve never really had a “diary,” a place just for personal thoughts. There could be a myriad of reasons why this is so. Perhaps I don’t like homework. Perhaps I don’t like dealing with my feelings, particularly negative ones—I prefer to shove them away, or forget them and move on. Perhaps I have a fear of writing down the darkest things within me, of regurgitating them into black-and-white textual existence, because that would make my biggest fears real.

So perhaps I’m just messed up. (Hey, at least I blog. That counts for something, right?)

I do like the value of writing down your life though. Feelings come and go, and it’s very difficult to recreate a moment. Writing down moments in your life can keep alive little fires, whether they be good fires or bad. You can open up your diary one day and say, “Huh, I used to feel this way.” You can even think, “Hey, this was a shitty time in my life…but I can sure use it as material for this short story I’m writing!”

Do you keep journals? Personal journals? Idea journals? What are your thoughts on journal-keeping?

Image: “Written in moleskine” by Homonihilis – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
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5 thoughts on “Writers: do you write in a diary/journal?

  1. I’ve kept different journals/writing notebooks over the years: ones from childhood, ones from travelling and ones in adulthood but I don’t journal often. When I do journal though, it’s usually to get something off my chest or to jot down story ideas/inspiration when my computer’s turned off. Journalling though can be very therapeutic.

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  2. I kept a physical journal from ages 10-20ish…now I just write thoughts down on my computer. It’s been a huuuuge part of my life! But it’s not for everyone – and if you’re writing heaps of fiction, that’s pretty awesome 🙂

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  3. I’ve been keeping a digital journal for over 20 years. While it’s not chock full of deep thoughts and emotions (although there are many), it is at least a recording of any major–and many not-so-major–events in the day.

    It’s interesting to look back and see how I used to spend my time, or who I met on what date, and at what event. Hmm, that could make an interesting blog post–thanks for the idea!

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  4. I keep a tiny little yellow Moleskine. It’s satisfying when I have no laptop. I can jot down the ideas as I get them and still feel attached to the words. However I will always treasure the typing keyboard as the king of all inputs. Physical of course. touchscreens… no.

    I tend to find myself writing my thoughts out and making posts out of parts and pieces of them.

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  5. I think writing in journals can be a good way of collecting your thoughts whilst simultaneously honing your writing abilities. I don’t do it myself, but many of my friends who are writers do it religiously.

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