Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Writing Tip #82 - Keep a Journal

The picture to the left is of all my journals I've been keeping since 2001. I favor blank journals (no lines), that aren't too weighty and that can be easily slipped into a backpack or tote. I use my journals for both personal recordings and projects. I've found over the years that my personal thoughts are great fertilizer for my writing projects, besides my life is too hectic to try and juggle and keep up with two journals.

Folks are sometimes reluctant to keep journals for fear that they will fall into the wrong hands, but I encourage you to at least consider keeping some sort of project/idea journal as you endeavor to give your writing life more structure and order. This journal is where you jot down story ideas, pieces of an overheard conversation, character names, peculiar sightings or pictures/drawings. I know it feels all Sylvia Plath to jot something down on the back of a matchbook, but trust me, you will eventually lose it and you won’t be able to recreate that genius moment.

Commit to taking the journal with you everywhere you go, you never know when inspiration or a wonderful meltdown by a five year old at the DMV will hit and you want to be able to record every vivid moment. My friends have gotten so use to me whipping out my journal to record funny conversations or bizarre people that they will sometimes email me funny notes of things they saw during their day. Cultivating the habit of journaling makes you very aware of your surroundings. Everything in your day becomes rich material for stories, poems, blogs, painting – or making a zesty pot of curried chicken.

For my techie people who consider pen and paper so yesterday; whip out those Blackberries (or whatever your poison) and tap out those moments of inspiration. You are already sending them to Twitter, but imagine how much more there is to say when you don’t restrict yourself to 140 characters.

Don’t feel like writing an electronic dissertation? Pull out those digital cameras, Flip Video Cameras, cell phone cameras and record away. Of course there is a higher chance of someone thinking your some crazy, paparazzi pervert, but do you.

And if you want to manifest that 1950’s private detective in you, get a voice recorder. There are some jazzy, digital models out there that are lightweight and allow you to plug into your laptop and transcribe away.

Don’t say I didn’t offer options.


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