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?