As a writer you may already keep a journal, or diary, and that’s excellent. For those who don’t as well as those who do I want to explore some of the exciting benefits of keeping one that you may not have realised.
Some people love keeping journals. Others just can’t be bothered, but for the writer, if you take the time and trouble to do it properly, you will be rewarded with a goldmine of story ideas and situations. Here’s how to go about it the right way.
There are bus loads of famous people who have kept diaries. Virginia Woolf and Evelyn Waugh to name just two. Their diaries have been published just as they wrote them. As for you and me, ours might not turn out to be best sellers as they stand, but may well prove to be invaluable in more ways than one.
So how do you go about it? For starters the journal does not want to be ‘got up, had breakfast, went to work…’ type of thing, does it? Well, to be honest, it could, if, on that morning you wrote not only what happened but what you actually felt about it. For instance:
‘Got up late. Alarm didn’t go off. 25 minutes to get out the door. Today of all days. Already got nerves about the sales meeting. Didn’t need this. Grrr. Got milk out of fridge. In haste spilt some on floor. Got cloth, put carton down on floor and mopped up milk. Cat came in, knocked carton over. More spilt milk. Felt like doing serious damage to Tiddles. Not her fault though. More mopping. Downed cornflakes. Grabbed portfolio, jumped into car. Car wouldn’t start. Tore hair…’
At the time of writing this you were probably re-living the frustration and tension of the events, mundane though they may appear to other people. But you have achieved two things.
- You have recorded your thoughts at the time and something of the emotions that accompanied them.
- You have helped to get any residual anger, frustration and anxiety out of your system. This is a bonus.
Remember Thomas the Tank engine? Your journal should be like him. A really useful one.
To achieve this make sure you:
(A) Record you feelings, emotions and reactions at the time;
(B) Describe, as best you can, the people places and incidents that happened during your day that were notable for their emotional content;
(C) Record conversations.
If journaling is new to you, then it may be that your first entries will still be too close in time for you to make much use of them. After a while though, when you look back to earlier entries, you will almost certainly spot something that happened or an emotion re-lived that sparks a ‘Yes, I can use this!’
That’s when a journal starts to become a very useful journal and you can begin to mine it’s hidden gems.
So, if you haven’t got one already, go out and buy a really nice page-a-day journal and get journaling!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mervyn Love
Mervyn Love offers a warm welcome and a stress free zone for all writers at his website: http://www.WritersReign.co.uk. Here you can relax and browse pages of advice, resources, competition listing, markets and much more. His free Article Writing Course has proved extremely popular, so why not sign up now while you’re thinking about it? http://www.writersreign.co.uk/WRac.html