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.