I write in my journal just about every day. My journal is how I communicate with myself and capture my thoughts before they stream by into a sea of lost thinking. There are too many good thoughts that I missed recording and they swim in that sea which is so hard to venture into and come back with what you went looking for. So, my journal is a way I talk to myself on paper and find out what I am thinking. The journal allows me to revisit my thoughts and develop my thinking into more developed ideas.
My journal is a place to experiment with ideas and be critical of my thinking before I put it at risk through sharing. There are no rules when writing in a journal. I can be casual with the conventions of writing and just try to get it down before I lose it. The American author, William Faulkner once said: “Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.” Faulkner gives good advice here to those of us that like to write, “Get it down.”
Faulkner also had this to say about writing a book and the stream of ideas the writer works with: “It’s like building a chicken coop in a high wind. You grab any board or shingle flying by or loose on the ground and nail it down fast.”
So many of my ideas and thoughts have flown by in a “high wind” so I use my journal like a big net to catch as much of that stuff flying by as I can. And as a man that keeps chickens, I can vouch for the necessity of a well built coop.
I went to my journals to retrieve these quotes from William Faulkner. My journals are full of the ideas and the writing of others much better than mine, and again and again, I mine these journals for quotes and ideas I captured before I lost them. My only regret is the ideas and writing I missed or lost before I could get it down in my journal.
My advice to wanna-be writers, get a journal and use it. Often, I will be working on a piece of writing and will recall some other writing that I need and want to weave into my new prose. I go to my journals and start mining. Often I find other bits saved from an earlier time that are also appropriate and helpful. That’s the unexpected benefit of journals – what you find when you are looking for something else.
If I were to describe my writing process, it has to include my journaling. My journals are where my writing and thinking about writing starts. Writing is creative thought captured on paper. In my journals is where I first measure the boards and cut them for the “chicken coop” I am building. Someday, after me, someone is going to have some fun going through my journals and maybe, little bits of me will come through the pages – hope so.