Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How To Journal (In Order To Be Helpful To Your Writer Self)

(Note: the theme for the pictures is "Experiences I Would Journal About". Also, "Here's Some Visuals to Help You Through the Word Slush").

Upon reading the title of this post, you might be thinking: "How to journal? Um, Alyssa, journaling isn't something you tell people how to do..."

Toboganning and beautiful Canada.
OK, yes, I realize journaling is a very personal and independent activity and you basically do what you want and actually I don't really even write journals (and now you're thinking and you think you're qualified to give me how-to advice??? what is this place???).

But... I've decided I'm just going to give you advice anyway.

First of all, I shall tell you about my journaling/diary history. If you've read this post, then you probably already know a bit about that particular topic. Basically what you can gain from my journaling history is that my journals were filled with stuff like hateful thoughts, a few boring sentences about my day, or things that are really stupid and don't make any sense.

"Tire d'erable" at the winter festival.
Maple syrup, basically.
Also, looking back through the entries of the diary I got when I was six, I get frustrated. Because, seriously? I wrote about THAT? ("That" usually being how much I hate/dislike a variety of cousins, friends, and general other people I knew).

So yeah, I stopped writing journals except for on trips pretty much because I hated how they showed me how much of a stupid young child I was.

But the other thing I want you to note about all those journals and journal entries is that they did not -and have not- helped me with my writing (aside from helping me with an entertaining blog post, o 'course).

So I'm kind of piggy backing off of this post. That post (the one I just linked to) talks about truth in fiction and how to inject ourselves into our writing in order for our writing to come out more real and true and, ultimately, more beautiful and relatable. This requires a very, VERY different kind of journaling than the kind of journaling I did from ages six through 14ish.


Mt. Rushmore on choir tour... of all days to be foggy.
HOW TO JOURNAL IN ORDER TO BE HELPFUL TO YOUR WRITER SELF

  • Whenever you find yourself comparing how something feels in your life to how something is commonly presented in books/other fictitious media, write down what YOU are feeling.

  • Note what you notice. You are going to notice things in different ways than characters in books, but what YOU notice matters more, because you are real.

  • Don't just talk about the things you did in a day when journaling. You can talk about stuff you did, but also talk about how you felt, or thoughts you thought or opinions you realized you had while you did stuff.

  • Use detail when describing anything: what you notice, or what you did, or how you felt.

  • Remember that when you experience something yourself, and then write about it, THAT is when your writing will feel (and be) the most real and that realness will then help readers to connect to your work.
So, now I'm going to give you homework. Here's what you have to do:

Go out and do something, even if it's just something really simple. Go to the park, go for a bike ride, play with your cat, even eat cereal... anything, just do something. Pay attention to:
  • your thoughts
  • your feelings
  • what you're noticing
  • detail

Then, after you're done doing whatever you did and paying attention to whatever you paid attention to, write about your experience.

Hiking in the desert with my friends.

And THAT, my friends, is how you journal.

---

I really hate to ruin a rare awesome blog post ending like that ("awesome" because my usual endings are along the lines of "so... yeah"), but I really would like to get some feedback from you!

I want to know if you do end up doing the writing exercise and if so what came out of it. In fact it would be cool if you even did it as a post on your blog, and then you can post the link below and I'll check it out. :)

Also, I want to know what you think. There may be other things I haven't thought of while forming these opinions, and maybe you see a hole in my logic. Do you think this is a good way to journal that would be helpful to your writing? How do you journal?

I would also love if you could go here to check out that truth/reality in fiction post I talked about above, and I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on the opinions I present there. I really love discussion so please don't hesitate to comment, e-mail me (kazuntai101[at]gmail[dot]com) or even tweet me @AlyssaSherlock.

So... yeah. ;)

1 comment:

  1. I wish I could send this back in time to my elementary/middle school self. I just found a diary that I wrote in when I was in fifth grade. I only talked about what I did each day, in very basic terms. There's one brief mention of a "boyfriend" that I don't even remember having but nothing about him or what happened.

    ReplyDelete

Hey there! I really treasure every comment... whether it just be a hello or a deeper thought. I love hearing your thoughts! :)

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