Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Journal as Keeper

Yesterday's journal entry is online (click here to view the .pdf), and includes random thoughts, some photos, a to-do list, a setting question worksheet and a recipe I want to try this week.

A daily journal makes a great place in which to keep stuff other than your writing and ramblings. I use mine to store letters, cards, news articles, recipes and interesting photos. Those other-than-writing things aren't just ephemera; they chronicle my life and times. You may not think a turkey and onion quesadilla is a big deal now, but imagine being able to look at what people liked for lunch in Renaissance Venice, or Pompeii right before Vesuvius blew. It's true that you might not become the next Samuel Pepys, but think about your future family. The record of your meals and thoughts and life could be very interesting to the great-great grandkid you never get to meet. I'd love to know what my great-Gran lived on back in her days nursing troops during the Civil War.

If you regard your journal as an archive as well as a place to write, you'll find yourself preserving things that may also be important to you later on in life. Settling arguments is one of the big pluses of this journaling habit; no one ever argues with me on dates or events important to the family because I have a written record of all of them I can produce on demand. While writing my YA books, I often reread the journals I wrote in high school to get back in touch with my younger self. It's easy to remember the big things about being in high school, but the day-to-day gets fuzzier with age. Also, it's easy to forget how different one's mindset is at fifteen versus fifty-four.

My journals are great helps with work as well. I've promised myself to keep learning about writing no matter how old I get or how many books I write. If you don't keep trying to improve your craft, you get lazy, complacent, and/or stagnate. The setting worksheet is a personal kick in the butt to keep refining the way I write setting, and what questions I might ask myself when I do. I actually have to work very hard on setting because it's one of my weakest points as a writer. This will give me a lot to think about while I'm world-building this week.

6 comments:

  1. I stuff all kinds of things in between the pages of my journals....a flower from a walk, postcards, notices of events in town. And as far as looking back....how else would I remember 40-something years later about Billy kissing me at church and then Marcia telling him lies about me?

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    1. Exactly! I save things I find in old books in some of my journals, too -- usually bookmarks, but sometimes letters and once a lock of hair. :)

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  2. That quilted piece is gorgeous!

    I'm so tired of working full time. I want to be home. I want me time, time to write again because I miss it so. Time to clean or not clean or walk or window shop or have tea. I want time to relax and just love my dogs instead of telling them to go away while I try to unwind from the day. I'm going to retire at the end of the year. It's time. I miss being home to do all the things I did before I worked. Like just be me...

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    1. Thank you, lady. I hope you do get some time off soon -- you sound like you need a break. :(

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  3. I have a question. Do you let your kids read your journals? Do they have any interest in them?

    I once caught my mom writing little notes in a notebook. When I asked her what she was scribbling, she said they were notes to help her remember things. To my knowledge she's never allowed anyone to see her little notebook.

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    1. My kids are generally not interested in anything I write -- they've had to live with Writer Mom since birth, and familiarity breeds boredom, I guess. I don't lock up my journals, and I'm fairly sure my daughter has peeked in a few, but it doesn't bother me. Any pages that I never want anyone to read I rip out and burn after I've written them. Good cleansing ritual, too.

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