I seriously bet that plenty of writers all around the world, published or amateur, all began their interest in writing from something personal but at the same time, artistic: journal writing. Because of today’s technology with the emerging of blogs, word processors, and pretty fancy journal writing software that exists all around,1 it seems that standard, traditional writing with just a pen/pencil and a blank notebook is becoming yet another memory from the past.
To us females who grew up in childhood days in which computers and internet still has yet to exist, this is also known as writing and keeping a diary. We pretty much chronicle all of our thoughts and feelings in to writing and we rely so much on these little notebooks, complete with a mini-lock to it, to keep our deepest secrets that we are even unable to share with anyone, not even our parents, siblings, or anyone else closest to us. When I was still in high school, I kept a diary and finished the entire notebook chronicling my entire first year of high school while actually calling my diary by the name of a friend who passed away on that same year. It was the first time that I experienced such a tragedy, seeing that I even witnessed it, and another friend of mine suggested that writing out everything that I wanted to take out from my mind truly helps, because once they’re let out, you won’t have to carry such a heavy burden about it anymore.
I’ve written very immature-sounding short stories back in middle school, but back then, it was a little bit like a diary of some sorts to me because I simply had no planned plot and I didn’t have the right tools to make it a proper journal. I used whatever countless binder paper I had and an empty binder to keep them all together2 and when I wrote them, I completely felt relieved. It was the same process for me when I started writing in a diary during my freshman year of high school.
I continued writing in a diary through sophomore year. In fact, because back then that Sanrio items were the in thing among us (Asian) girls that I even had to have all of my diary notebooks with Sanrio characters. My mom thought I was insane because it had to be specific for a notebook3 but she helped me buy one anyway. I wrote about my experiences and scenarios that I witnessed with my classmates and friends and simply wrote my own opinions about them. Like the first one, I was able to finish this second one.
But that was it with diary/journal writing for me. When my junior year came, I was completely swamped with so much homework, plus I finally had the guts to not become shy and started joining after school clubs. I became so focused on my studies and became so active in school clubs that I simply just neglected journal writing altogether. It was also the same with my senior year as well, focusing on getting my grades up, studying for college entrance exams, SATs, ACTs, etc. I just didn’t have time to write in a journal/diary anymore.
I rediscovered journal writing again, somewhat, with the early emergence of blogs, starting with Blogger,4 but then I realized that blogging is out in the open and pretty much no longer secret and personal. Then I realized that blogging is a good way to write out and express our thoughts and opinions on different kinds of topics and not necessarily write about our life stories, just like back in high school. And with that, I found my groove and interest in writing altogether, more especially towards fanfiction and original fiction.
I had tons of great scenarios and memories that I wrote in those old diaries that I owned, but because they were lost and gone during our move to our new house back then, they were simply just lost and forgotten. I actually received a few empty journal notebooks from family and friends that are still remaining blank.5 But I now thought that if I still had those diaries that maybe I can find some great ideas for original fiction.
But yes, I still recommend for every writer to keep a journal. It doesn’t have to be about your life experiences. It can be about anything you just want to write about that you want to keep it to yourself rather than sharing it to the world through a blog or something similar. Not only that it relieves stress and improves your writing skills, but it also generates a lot of great ideas, brainstorming, for your next upcoming novel or short story. But most of all, the most valuable aspect that you’ll gain from journal writing is the ability to be able to self-reflect and be able to focus on issues to yourself without any distractions.
Some people, me included, even have art journals, but I’ll write about that some other time.
A few articles to read and sites to visit:
On the sidenote...
- there is such thing, no kidding on this one. LifeJournal is one example. [↩]
- since we moved homes, they were lost and gone forever… [↩]
- My mom supported me writing a diary at that age. She even admitted to me that she was too lazy to write in general which was why she never kept a diary in the first place. She thought it would help me discover and “build” my character/persona as I got older… and she was right. She never bothered to ask me if she could read it though, which is a good thing. [↩]
- back then it was independent, years before Google bought them off. [↩]
- actually, one of them I used as my “Japanese writing practice” notebook [↩]