Sunday, August 4, 2013


The shelves and shelves of beautifully bound journals  in our local Chapters store call to me every time I walk into the store. How do you choose between covers of turquoise, pink or orange, brown leather that looks old or plain black that looks serious? Lined or blank? Plump or slender? A silk ribbon for a marker? A magnetic closing that makes a satisfying snap to say I’m done!
I’ve bought my fair share and they’re lined up like a rainbow on the shelf above my computer. That’s where they’ll probably stay. I feel intimidated every time I attempt to write in one. The journals are perfect so the writing needs to be perfect too, right? A gem of wisdom, a sparkling metaphor, a brilliant line of poetry, a witty scrap of dialogue.
Writing novels is challenging enough. I don’t need my journal to be challenging too. Writer’s block in my journal? No thank you!
So I write in a cheap drugstore variety spiral bound notebook with Writing Journal scrawled across the front cover in black felt pen. Over the years, I’ve filled at least a dozen notebooks. I wish I’d kept the earlier ones but I tossed them out when I was finished – dog eared and full of crossings-out and barely legible handwriting.
I wish I’d kept them because they are the only real record I have of my writing career. I have no rules for my journal. Everything is welcome: word quotas, daily (weekly, monthly) goals, reminders of deadlines, email correspondence, ideas, books to read, problems, solutions, successes, failures. No brilliant writing, no dazzling words but lots of words. I start and end every writing session with my journal. It’s the best way I know to keep me accountable, on track and motivated.
Elizabeth George in Write Away . . .
I begin every day by writing in a journal, sometimes about the writing I’m doing, sometime about what’s on my mind at the moment. . .  but before I do that, I read a day in the last Journal of a Novel for the previous novel. That allows me to see that, whatever I might be experiencing at the moment, I have experienced it and survived it before.
Laura Oliver in The Story Within . . .  
Journal writing is a way writers find their voices and gather courage. After all, you can do anything you want to in a journal, like singing in your car or dancing alone in your kitchen.
My journal is a reminder of where I have been and how far I am going. From now on, I’m saving them a shelf, right beside those fancy books from Chapters.



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