Journaling: Days of Future Past

I've been writing in my journal regularly again and I love it because I come up with all kinds of brilliance epiphanies.  (You can read my most recent journaling epiphany here.)

Yesterday, the thought occurred to me that there are two kinds of journalers:

–Those who basically dissect the past in their diaries

–Those who prefer to write about the future

I fall squarely into the latter camp. Hmmm.  Let's discuss.

Anais Nin famously said, "We write to live twice, in the moment and in the retrospection." Nin, also famously, was a kick-ass writer who specialized in getting her journals published.  And said journals were full of all kinds of juicy affairs, as well as creative thoughts.  (Or so I've heard, I've only managed to get through part of the first one.)

Brief aside for an interesting thought: if Nin were alive today, would she be a blogger?  I suspect so.

But when I write about what happened to me the day before, I get bored and rush through it.  I feel compelled to note it for some mythical future reader (unless I decide to burn all my journals, which is a real possibility).  I don't really enjoy this living twice thing.  And its not that I'm bored with my life, because I'm not, I love my life, for the most part.

So what gives?

What comes out in my Moleskine, when I allow myself just to let loose, is a volley of ideas, things I want to ponder that perhaps grew out of what happened recently, thoughts on blog posts, articles and books.  That kind of stuff is what populates my journals.  Also recipes, notes from phone calls, lectures, sermons, and conversations, names of websites, phone numbers and so on.

But not a lot about what happened to me the day before.  When I force myself to write in my journal a certain way, that's what comes out.  In the most boring of fashions imaginable.  I'm bored with it, so I feel sorry for my future readers, because if I'm bored think how bored they will be.  (The one exception to this is when I write about specific things in terms of a writing exercise, such as noting details of a person I saw, or relating dialogue.)

I'm not a person who reads books twice, either.  Recently, friends and family members have been so enthralled with the book Shadow of Night that they've either read it or listened to it twice.  The thought of doing that slays me.  There are so many books in the world, I want to go on to the next one.  (Of course I'm still slogging through Shadow of Night, so I've not even finished it once yet.)

All this forces me to one conclusion: I've a shallow, impatient mind.


What about you?  Do you have a deep, thoughtful mind that loves to dissect every aspect of the day before?  What do you journal about (if you dare tell)?

**Don't forget to sign up for the Get Your Novel Written Now class, which starts in October!

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8 Responses to Journaling: Days of Future Past

  1. Melissa Marsh 09/18/2012 at 16:01 #

    It depends. On the days I’m feel retrospective, I’ll pen some deep thoughts and dissect them. Other days it’s just a play-by-play of what I did that day. The historian in me hopes that someday (if I keep my journals) those details will be important to someone. Maybe that is wishful thinking, though…

  2. Charlotte Dixon 09/18/2012 at 16:27 #

    I predict that many years in the future, after your death, your papers, including your journals, will be donated to a library where future scholars will pour over them for clues to the genesis of all your published books!  Thanks for commenting.

  3. Patty 09/19/2012 at 00:04 #

    Well, if you’re getting epiphanies from journaling Charlotte, it doesn’t sound shallow to me. Epiphanies are good! My journaling is a little haphazard, but when I do it it’s more like expressive writing, usually starting from a feeling I’m experiencing in the moment. I always feel good afterwards. But I have no interest in (or perhaps gift for) documenting my days. I do bore myself that way too. Now, Anais Nin led a pretty wild life as I recall; maybe that’s the secret to being a good diarist.

  4. J.D. 09/19/2012 at 05:03 #

    Dissect? Maybe. I have contemplated reading Aais Nin again. The first time I only looked at the pictures.

  5. Charlotte Dixon 09/19/2012 at 07:51 #

    Heehee, maybe you and I need to go kick up our heels a bit more, Patty!  Yes, as I recall, Nin was married to two men at the same time–one on the west coast, one on the east coast.  Neither or her husbands knew about the other.  Now that's gutsy.  Not sure it's something to emulate, but it is gutsy!  Thanks for dropping by.

  6. Charlotte Dixon 09/19/2012 at 07:57 #

    LOL!  I'm pretty sure I did the same thing, skimmed through the boring stuff and skipped to the juicy parts, like her affair with Henry Miller.  Maybe I should go back to her work as well.

  7. nicholas garcia 09/27/2012 at 23:12 #

    I must say journaling is, was, and will be intertwined with my life. My journal has been like a companion for many years. Evolving as I have evolved, but maybe not so much in a traditional fashion. What I mean by that if you expecting any form or order to my write it will not be there. Some days it was my sounding board. Other days it was lecturing me. And buried in the mist of all that crap there are a few shining gems of thought. Yes there were a few times when I put the pen and paper down and walked away. Bored with the dribble I was writing. Feeling obligated to write vs. getting to write. Don’t get me wrong I love to write. My daily challenge to find words to translate my thoughts. But I will be dammed if I will write because I have to and not because I want to. As it ends up I find my way back to my paper and pen, promising myself not to defile the pages by being such a prick of misery. We will see were I go with it this time.

  8. Charlotte Dixon 09/28/2012 at 07:34 #

    Thanks for weighing in Nicholas.  It sounds like your journal has been your constant companion and has served you well in many ways.  Amazing and very cool.  I love reading about all the ways you've used it.  Thanks for commenting!

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