Journaling: One Path to Writing Abundance

I'm an inveterate journaler.  As a matter of fact, I'm certain the reason I'm a writer today is because of the fake red leather diary, complete with lock and key, that I got for Christmas when I was 8 or 9.  Unlatching it was so enticing–all those lined pages to be filled with words!  I've been journaling off and on ever since.

When, as a young adult I decided I wanted to be a writer, it was to my journal that I turned.  There, I scribbled notes for stories I didn't have time to write, accounts of the events and activities of my life, and entries about the joys and frustrations of being a mother.  Gradually, the time I spent writing lengthened out, and the journal expanded to personal essays and short stories.  Eventually, I returned to school to get my MFA, and now I make my living as a writer.   I'm fairly sure none of this would have happened without my trusty journal always at my side. 

So as you might guess, I'm a big fan of using journaling as part of a regular writing routine.  I've been thinking a lot about journaling the past few days, maybe because on these cold late-autumn days, curling up by a fire and writing away in my Moleskine feels like just the right thing to do.  I've also been thinking about it because journaling is an important aspect of the practice of creating, one of the seven practices of the prolific and prosperous writer. I'm writing about these practices for the Writing Abundance E-book I'm working on, and I also talk about them in my live workshops (the next one of which I'll be presenting in Nashville in January.  Go here for more info.)  So I decided I'd share some of my thoughts on journaling here.  And then I realized that I had way more material than would fit in one blog post.  So stay tuned for an ongoing series, which I'll post over the next few days.  (Um, that is, with a little bit of luck.  It is Christmas, after all, and I've barely begun my shopping.)

Let me start by listing  a few reasons why I think journaling is good for your writing:

  • Flow.  First and foremost, because committing to writing in a journal regularly keeps your flow going.  It teaches you to let loose and just write about your day, your dreams, or anything at all.
  • Momentum.  Writing in a journal regularly gives you a sense of momentum, and the realization that yes, you can do this thing called writing.
  • Ease.  Journaling teaches you to be facile with words.  The knowledge that you can put one word after another boosts your confidence.  And this skill is transferable to other projects.

I use my journal in many different ways and you'll literally always find me with it open by my side.  I use it for:

  • Lists
  • Notes on Projects
  • First Drafts
  • To-Do Lists
  • As a life chronology
  • Notes
  • Ideas
  • Things I've Overheard

As you can see, my journal is pretty much a mish-mash of collected words and uses, which is why its so valuable to me.  It contains my life in one location.  But nearly every day I also find time to write some sort of journal entry in it, and it is this practice that I find so valuable and what I want to talk about further.

In tomorrow's post I'll talk about the various kinds of journal entries I've identified: Morning Pages, The Whiney Emotional Outburst, Day Planning, and my favorite, all the variations on the Chronology.  See you then.

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5 Responses to Journaling: One Path to Writing Abundance

  1. Jessica 12/15/2009 at 03:42 #

    I must admit I was hesitant to begin a journal. When I was younger I started a diary several times and each time it petered out within weeks. Then I’d get worried about catching up on what I’d missed etc. and it all ended up very stressful.

    However, thanks to the persistence of a writing buddy I finally bought a journal for keeping my writing ideas and inspirational quotes together. I really don’t know what I’d do without it now. It gives me a lovely safe feeling, knowing my ideas and phrases are on paper and not being corrupted or lost in my memory.

    I use it mainly for notes on writing projects, ideas, books I should read and dialog I’ve either made up or overheard. I’ve found it’s very important to get just the right notebook. Many times I’ve spent over half an hour walking up and down the notebook shelves deciding on exactly which one to get. It has to feel right, look right and (most importantly) be unlined. (My writing buddy on the other hand has to have lines exactly so many millimeters apart.)

    I look forward to your future posts about journal entries.

    P.S. Thank you for introducing me to the word ‘inveterate.’ I’ve added it to my journal’s Interesting Word list!

  2. Charlotte Dixon 12/15/2009 at 07:29 #

    Sounds like you are making great use of your journal, Jessica, despite your hesitancy at first. Your bring up several good points that I’ll address in future posts. Thanks for writing and glad to be of service introducing you to the word inveterate!

  3. Delaram 02/16/2011 at 23:02 #

    I am inspired to pick up my journal again, Charlotte!
    Love, Delaram

  4. Charlotte Dixon 02/17/2011 at 07:32 #

    I’m so pleased that this post inspired you, Delaram!


  1. The Magic of Believing | Charlotte Rains Dixon - 11/03/2015

    […] Friday.  Until then, if you would like to read the series on journaling, you could start with Part One and then head to Part […]

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