When I was a kid, I didn’t understand the appeal of journals. Every television show had an episode where someone got into someone else’s journal. Commercials advertised journals that were voice activated and girls everywhere were thrilled. I got a journal for my birthday one year and wrote two entries in it before I forgot it existed. The only other time I did journaling after that was for an assignment in university, and I’m pretty sure I just threw up my hands, said, “Screw it!” and scribbled most of my entries last minute.
My problem is that I don’t like writing about myself. Considering how I run this blog, I seem to be getting better about it. A personal journal is still out of the question. These days, I gather multitudes of journals for different reasons.
Have you ever had a dream that was so fantastic and inspiring, only to forget about it mere moments after you wake up? Ideas can come and go like this two. One second you have an amazing bout of creativity and it drives you to your computer, only to fade one you open Word or whichever writing program you prefer. Journals, as it turns out, are a great solution to these problems.
Much like some people keep “Dream Journals” at their bedside to record their dreams, an author can keep one at hand to record ideas when a bout of inspiration hits. Journals come in a number of sizes, and a small one will easily fit into a purse or a back pocket. These are ideal for those on-the-go ideas that come from nowhere and need to be scribbled down right away.
There are slightly larger journals—ones roughly the size of your average hard-cover book. While these can be used to record anything from striking lines to entire paragraphs, I prefer them to record notes. Anything from characters to world-building to sketches of maps and lists of deities reside in my medium-sized journals. It’s vital to remember the important factors of your story, its characters, and their world. Otherwise, you might forget that interesting subplot, or that secondary character’s motivation!
For actual writing, I prefer the education-sized journals. More accurately labelled as notebooks, they’re a nice large size for planting down bits and pieces of fiction writing when a computer is not readily available. It was fairly common once for writers to start with handwritten rough drafts before typing the second draft out onto a computer (or a type-writer, if you want to go further back). It’s a valid practice. Handwriting gets out a lot of the word vomit, and as I re-write it onto the computer, I can easily see places where a bit more description might be needed, or where I might want to swap sentences or entire paragraphs for better flow.
So, while I doubt journals will become places for me to pen my biggest fears and most powerful thoughts, they are serving their purpose. I’d recommend a journal as a tool for any author, budding or established. Just make sure you have a few good pens to go with them!