Monday, February 23, 2009

Writing Journal Newbie

Tip of the Day: Have a day off with the kids home from school? If they have something to look forward to in the evening, they might let you write during the day. Which is great if you're not all that productive in the evening anyway.

With encouragement from Lisa (Miss Crafting a Career) and one of my online crit partners, Andrea, I bought a writing journal. Actually, it's a small sized 2009 weekly planner spiral on clearance for a dollar at the bookstore. It gives me an SAT word of the day. Today's is compunction--distress caused by feeling guilty. I admit I could not previously have used compunction in a sentence.

I've never used a writing journal before, but I'm hoping to use it for myriad things. (Myriad is Friday's SAT word.) I'd like to keep track of what days I've worked and what I've worked on. I'd like to be able to find those ideas I jot down right before I go to sleep rather than searching through random notebooks. And I'd like to write down what I'm stuck on, what I think is blocking me. Sometimes writing down the question brings out the answer.

In the past I've been resistant to a writing journal because it seemed like more writing that wasn't actually contributing to "the bottom line" of a finished manuscript. Wouldn't ten minutes writing in a journal be ten minutes less spent on my work in progress? I've also been afraid that I would avoid writing because I really hate bureaucracy and paperwork and I wouldn't want to update the writing journal. And with my flagrant disregard of paperwork in all its forms (flagrant is tomorrow's SAT word), wouldn't I just ignore the writing journal and then feel guilty about it?

Well, I'm giving myself permission to ignore the writing journal. It's a tool for me and nobody else, and I'll use it or ignore it and not feel guilty about it. HA! No compunction for me!

But it's there if I want to use it. I think it will be a good idea for me to notice when I'm feeling enthusiastic, when I do better at revision than drafting, and if there are any patterns I haven't noticed. I suspect I make progress faster than I think I do, and it would be nice to see concrete evidence of progress when I'm in a funk.

Will I discover more uses for a writing journal as I try it out? Or will I give it up after a month? So all you journal junkies out there: what do you get out of it?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages


Emily Marshall said...

I don't keep a formal writing journal, but I do usually have some writing notebook by my bedside when inspiration strikes. And I have a "story ideas" file on my computer I add to frequently when I get ideas--most of them are bad, but I'm hoping I'll be able to combine certain thoughts to make more books eventually.

I LOVE the idea of keeping a writing journal to help process your ideas, though.

Lisa Schroeder said...

I think it's great to try things and see what works and what doesn't. If it works, great, and if not, now you'll know. :)

I am loving having a journal to carry around. I don't do heavy writing in mine, but I do use it to jot down thoughts, ideas, words, etc.

Christina Farley said...

I really love your idea. I have a random notebooks for each of my books with thoughts, webs, lists and stuff on my characters but not a journal. I know I should. Looking forward to seeing how it works out!