What I’m writing – Journal.

We all spend a lot of time thinking. Whether it’s about the latest WIP or what we had for dinner, thinking is part of who we are and what we do, so it stands to reason that as writers we would want to write some of these thoughts down.

I’ve been keeping journals on and off for about 18 years. Many years ago it was all about the teenage angst. More recently, it began as writing out ideas for books but it deteriorated into being all about me. Me, me, me. Oh and me. That’s OK though, because this kind of writing – writing by hand – is good for your brain (Says the Guardian) even if you’re not writing a great masterpiece.

There have been a lot of sticking points recently for me and I’ve found that writing these out has helped to free them a little. I’ve been able to distance myself from the initial (and sometimes irrational) reaction, take a step back and examine the pieces pragmatically. Most importantly, I’ve been able to ask myself WHY a particular piece of information is bothering me so much. Is it because it directly affects me and my friends? Is it because of my past? Is it about emotional connections or loyalties? Is it merely because I’m being silly and need to think it through properly?

Writing it out has helped me to absorb situations and allowed me time to process them in a way that I don’t think I would be able to if I were to stare at a screen and type things out. The act of holding a pen and letting the words flow is extremely liberating and I’ve been known to use a pen and paper as a way to combat things I find complex or am emotionally tied to. If you’re anything like me, you type almost as fast as you think and it doesn’t allow for actual processing. The intricate formation of letters forces us to slow down and create, not just generate.

Writing in a notebook has other advantages too, beyond the physical act of writing. With the world being as inter-connected as it is now, local storage on computers is becoming a thing of the past. For the latest novel, this is great and means backing up becomes easy. If you’re writing things to the cloud. it’s someone else’s responsibility to back it up and if your computer fails, you can just open it up on your phone or tablet. It’s one less thing to worry about during the drama of having a brain full of story and you’re in the midst of trying to get as much done as possible. Losing a story due to a backup failure is not the most fun I’ve had and it’s not something I want to repeat with any of my works.

However, we also live in a time where accessibility, usability and security have a tenuous relationship with one another and there are some things you just don’t want the world to see. I know my handwritten journal is for my eyes only so I can keep it out of sight and out of mind of other people. That’s not to say they can’t find it and read it, which you wouldn’t be able to do with a password protected file or a site like 750words, but at least I don’t have to worry about it being plastered over the internet, or worse if someone finds my phone. I like having something tangible for myself and turning those pages covered in my horrid scrawl is an uplifting feeling.

This week has been all about the journal and getting it out.

Muddled Manuscript

5 thoughts on “What I’m writing – Journal.

  1. I used to love writing a journal throughout my teen years, but it got me into a LOT of trouble when I was about 18 which put me off keeping them for a few years… I wrote travelling diaries though and love looking through them every now and then. Nowadays I write blog posts, many of which don’t see the light of day, but I find it therapeutic to get it all out of my head xx

  2. I know exactly what you mean. I’ve been writing things down for something and whenever a thought occurs I instinctively go to pen and paper. I haven’t ever considered writing it on the computer. That’s not to say that I don’t have thousands of words on the computer, but recently I’ve become worried about losing them and have become overly obsessed about backing them up! And yes, I don’t always process the emotional stuff when it’s on the screen, but sometimes I need that distance too. There’s room for both isn’t there, but holding a pen and physically writing words down is very therapeutic xx

  3. I used to write diaries in my teens – masses of them! But these days the vast majority of my writing is done on the computer. Mind you, sometimes if the inspiration isn’t flowing I do turn to pen and paper and it can sometimes unstick the block. I find editing much easier to do when it’s printed out so I do think my brain processes things differently when they’re on a real piece of paper. It’s great that journaling helps you. Sometimes things just need to get out of your (one’s) head in order to be processed and dealt with, I find! xx

  4. I carry a notebook around for jotting down ideas whether random or to do with something im working on and although I don’t journal, I miss the old days of sending and receiving letters. I kept all the ones I had from friends during the uni days and enjoy reading them every so often.

  5. I’ve gone through phases of journal writing, mainly when I’ve been at my lowest points – which has made for some pretty depressing reading whenever I’ve come across them! There are a few travel snippets too which are a bit more fun, but on the whole I’ve been rubbish at keeping it up! I totally get what you mean about the writing by hand thing though. And I do still like to carry a notebook with me – it’s just a bit touch and go whether I ever get round to using it… 🙂 xx

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