I gave up journaling for lint two decades ago and never picked it up again. It had always been an exercise in frustration for me. If I forced myself to do it, the result was worthless. If I didn’t, I felt guilty. The number of partially started journals I own is embarrassing. At some point, I just had to admit, this was NOT in my skill set. Yet, I’m a writer. All writers journal, right? I’d never met one who didn’t, hence, all those half-empty journals. Ugh.
Then, at a writing class, the teacher offered an “alternative” to the journal. It wasn’t so much that she called it something different or even that she threw the rules out, it was that this option was guilt-free. If you didn’t write in it every day, not a biggie. It’s not dated. You didn’t have to follow an organizational structure. In fact, for those like me (random chaotic right brainers), this thing was the equivalent of a dinner date with L.L. Cool J…well, that might be a stretch but it was close.
What she suggested was a writer’s notebook. The way this thing worked took away guilt and gave free rein to creativity. I didn’t have to write in it if I didn’t want to, other than random notes I wanted to keep. Things like great lines from movies and books, story ideas, quotes, or even a good joke. It was also suggested we include “clippings”. This was a great idea. I happen to farm newspapers and magazines. One of my favorite things is the obituaries. It’s a great place to find names. Not in their entirety, but mixing and matching can be fun. I’ve even gotten story ideas from newspapers and clipped whatever inspired it, and glued it into my WN. Cartoons related to writing or which inspire me or just make me laugh went in there. These are helpful when the rejections come in. Photos that you select to inspire your character sketches are another good thing for the writer’s notebook.
When I quit journaling, I began filling notebooks. No more half-empty journals. Now they are so full some of them are held together with rubber bands. I’ve moved from spirals to hardbound because they can withstand my passionate notebook work better.
Are you a journaler? Never worked for you either? Try the writer’s notebook and let me know how it works for you. If you already keep one, what do you put in your’s? I’d love to hear about other writer’s notebooks.