Song of the Day: Stayin' Alive by The Bee Gees
Yes, that's my notebook to the left. I had an epiphany last week. I was going through my writing notebook (basically a notebook I carry everywhere to jot down anything inspiring, character names, story ideas, etc.) and I realized I had a good amount of material in it. I had discovered parts of stories that I'd forgotten about, phrases and story ideas.
When I took my first creative writing class at the University of South Florida, my teacher made us keep a journal. We were to write down anything we wanted in it, just as long as we wrote in it everyday. I kept up with the idea even after I finished the class. The only thing that had changed was the frequency in which I wrote in the journal. I didn't keep up with the "writing everyday" part.
But this past week when I went through my notebook I was reminded about just how important keeping a writing journal really is. I always have my notebook with me, but I don't write in it everyday. I have decided that I should write in it everyday, even if I only write bits and pieces.
Here are some of the benefits of keeping a writing notebook:
1. Discovering stories that are actually pretty good.
I went back and tweaked a few old stories and one of them was actually accepted for publication recently. This goes back to that old saying about stepping away from your writing. Back then I doubted the stories, but looking at them today, I realize their potential.
2. Discovering Characters
I write down unique names I come across and also phrases and bits of conversations I hear. Sometimes, I'll even jot the details of a person with an interesting outfit. When I'm looking back on my journals and reading over these notes, I'll often get an idea for a character.
3. Seeing a phrase that might trigger a story idea.
I'm sure all writers can attest to this. Random thoughts and phrases will pop into my head. There is no method to the madness. It's almost as though the voices of different characters nudge you by saying something important, something that triggers the lightbulb and makes you have to write it down. Well, when I read over these fragmented bits, a lot of the times, a new story is born.
4. Remembering story ideas that you meant to write about.
My writing is character driven, so I get a lot of ideas about telling stories that involve real issues people face on a daily basis. I keep track of this in my notebook, and when I look back I say, "Oh yeah! I meant to write a story about that!"
5. It helps you to write more frequently.
We all here that we should write everyday. Journaling is a way to that. Isn't writing one paragraph, one idea, one phrase better than writing nothing at all? A little at a time everyday suddenly seems more doable.
6. It inspires and builds confidence.
As I pointed out before, I saw the potential in some of the stories and half-stories I had written. It shows you that maybe your work isn't so bad at all. Journaling, can make you feel like a real writer and I've been feeling the love from my writing lately.
I think I have finally found the thing to keep me writing consistently. Now, if I could just find something to keep me editing my own work consistently! Keeping a writing journal helps me keep my writing alive.
What about you? Do you keep a writing journal? Have you ever kept a writing journal? What are some of the benefits you reaped from your own writing journal?