by Brenda Moguez
Regardless if you’re an aspiring or seasoned writer you’ve heard of or read about the benefits of using a journal(s). For the author, it’s a haven, a catch-all, the place to jot unexplainable thoughts in, capture scenes that play themselves out in dreams, your observations of people found on trains and coffee shops, love letters to lost lovers, and your ideas for stories and future novels.
Deciding you want to keep a diary is the first step, the next is pushing through your apprehension that comes from another writing responsibility.
• What will you write?
• Can you commit to the demand of the daily rite to write?
• Why bother having a journal if you’re already struggling to reach your day-to-day word count?
If you’re like me, you’ll buy several journals, fill up the first ten pages and then stop. Later you’ll buy a Parker Starlight Ball Point pen and a package of multi-colored Sharpies, fill another twenty pages and stop once again. The following year you'll recommit to your desire to maintain a writer's journal but never quite succeed because you haven’t asked yourself why you want to keep a diary.
“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see, and what it means” (Joan Didion, Why I Write, From the New York Times Book Review 5 December 1976).
After reading Ms. Didion’s essay, you might say, Yes!
Or you might groan at the idea of committing to such deep contemplation. Maybe you’ll recall what you learned in a writing workshop regarding the usefulness of using individual notebooks. Can you see yourself filling up several spiral binders, each with a unique theme?
• Ideal Journal
• Character Journal
• First Lines Journal
• Dream Journal
• Dear Diary Secret Thoughts Journal
• The Story Notebook
The laundry list of reasons to keep a notebook, as is what to scribe in your diary, are infinite. Journals help the writer tie the pieces of their fragmented thoughts together, but tracking down the perfect journal isn’t as simple as picking up a Moleskin.
It’s a complicated process.
If you love journals, I’ll wager you can’t walk past a boutique stationery store without browsing the inventory. Before you follow me down a slippery slope of acquiring a Smithsonian-worthy collection of journals, consider your writer’s needs.
I knew the conventional college-ruled notebook would not do the job. I wanted a robust on-the-go tool to organize the chaos in my writer’s mind. I saw the value of using several journals but dealing with the paper variety would be unwieldy, pricey, and they didn't provide the structure I wanted. When I considered my immediate needs, the need to manage my to-do list, research, my submissions, writer how-to’s, blog ideas, letters, and everything else in my writer’s kitchen sink, there was one only option: the digital journal.
There are several digital notebooks out there just waiting to declutter your writer’s mind. You will need to research to decide which is best for you. The upside to digital notebooks is their portability, and they do not require a Master’s Degree in Technology.
My love affair with the traditional journal continues to burn bright despite my appreciation of the digital variety.
If you’ve taken the plunge, share with us what works for you.
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