The winner of the Get Back to Writing Week Short Story giveaway is:
Vetta, whose first line was You're no good and neither am I. That's why we deserve each other.
Vetta, when you have a chance please send your full name and ship-to info to LynnViehl@aol.com so I can get your package out to you. My thanks to everyone for joining in.
This morning I got up at 5 a.m. Once I'd attended to the first tasks of the day, I retreated to the porch to hang out with the pups and the birds. After meditating for thirty minutes (something that helps clear out the head cobwebs and centers me) I wrote this entry in my personal journal. Journaling is part of my daily writing routine, and it helped me warm up for composing this blog post. Once this is finished I'll deal with some correspondence, biz stuff, and then tackle the day's fiction work schedule. I think of it as a cascade writing effect -- beginning with an easy flow and then building on the momentum that creates.
I journal first each day because it's very undemanding writing. I can write whatever I want, in any style I want, and it doesn't have to make sense to anyone but me. I don't have to edit it, polish it or make it presentable. I usually write with my favorite fountain pen, which gives me that lovely feeling of creating art with words. Personal journaling provides me with daily opportunities to quietly wonder while I chronicle things important to me as a person. In that sense the personal journal can be like your private treasure chest, in which you can store gems of inspiration, pearls of writing wisdom and the beautiful things we craft from our own experiences with the work.
Writing in a journal is writing for yourself, and that offers a bit of creative breathing room. As a professional my work is always subject to scrutiny and opinion coming at me from all directions: the agent, editors, writer friends, readers and everyone else metaphorically reading over my shoulder. Since I'm a storyteller I don't mind the attention -- naturally the work is meant to be shared -- but having twenty minutes of writing liberty via journaling makes me calmer, more focused and better able to cope with being under the microscope the rest of the time.
Before you dive back into writing fiction after a long break, it can help to open a blank book, notebook or make your own journal, and write for yourself for a time. Whatever caused you to give up the work, as well as why you want to get back to it, could be the perfect place to start. While I don't think you should use a journal simply to vent 24/7, it does give you the right place to get out any negative thoughts that might otherwise interfere with the work (as well as put you in a better mood to write what you do want others to read.)
There are no rules with journaling, no deadlines, no marketing, no pressure. You certainly don't have to journal every day, nor do you have to tell anyone about your journal. If you really want to protect the contents, once it's filled you can always destroy it (which I recommend for any journal with contents that for whatever reason you never want to be read by anyone else.)
A journal also doesn't have to be in diary form. I've written a couple that were simply long letters to friends, which I mailed off to them after they were filled. You can use a guided journal as a daily writing exercise workbook, or write your journal as one of your characters (I did one for Lucan from the Darkyn books, and it was not only fun writing in his voice -- excellent practice for dialogue tone, too -- but helped me better understand him.)
To get back to writing by journaling, in comments to this post write the first line of a journal entry you'd make today by midnight EST on Saturday, September 8th, 2012. I'll draw one name at random from everyone who participates and send the winner a copy of the second issue of Pages magazine, this lovely Peacock blank journal, and a surprise. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.