"Have you thought about writing your family history, but found yourself stuck from the start? Writing a family narrative can be a daunting task, but Karen Jones Gowen found a way to bring her mother's story to life." (Homespun Magazine)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Journal Writing

I just finished reading Following the Whispers by Karen Walker. According to her memoir, she wrote in her journal constantly. I'm sure this helped her remember details when she began to write her book. (I'll post my review on it in a few days.)

Many of us aren't ready to write the official memoir but we can still keep a journal. I used mine extensively when I wrote Uncut Diamonds, my autobiographical novel. (I don't think I could ever write a true memoir. I like to make up stuff and change situations to suit the story.)

If you're not used to writing in a journal, it can be awkward at first. Especially if you think about "your posterity" reading it. That idea can really tie up the flow of words. I prefer to think of journaling as my thing, something I do just for me. I get a nice, smooth-writing pen, sit in my chair, shut the door, grab a cold diet Coke and just write stream-of-consciousness about what I did, what I'm going to do, what I'm thinking about. Not to mention dumb stuff like how much I weigh, who I'm mad at, what frustrates me and how much I spent at the store.

I don't write for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren who may or may not read them someday far in the future. If anyone ever wanted to go through my 4000 journals, which I doubt they would, then that's their problem. They'll have to decipher the handwriting and figure out who I'm talking about when I say "S. was a b. today" or "I hate mean people."

Really, journal writing is the best and cheapest psychotherapy ever. If for no other reason than to vent, or plan, or talk about nothing to someone who cares (yourself lol!) I highly recommend it. And when you want to write that memoir, look at how easy it will be with events of your life already recorded.

8 comments:

  1. I totally agree, it is so freeing to release yourself, just let the pen or words flow as you
    strike the keyboard. I have been doing morning pages, at first thought, silly, but it really helps you focus, frees your mind up a bit!
    Great post~

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  2. I think that must be the secret to a good journal, if you write for people in the future, it may be too censored.
    I always find when I go to museums, its the little details about some persons life that is fascinating, so your day-to-day details will be so interesting to people in the future.

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  3. Journal keeping and scrapbook collecting are lovely things to do. My own mistake is to have a blank notebook, lots of scribbles, lots of cut outs of newspaper articles, pics, memorabilia but not dates in the notebook! Very messy! But I guess it's because I'm doing these things for me mainly. I hope no-one ever gets to read them! LOL!

    :-)

    but it is a lovely thing to do and lovely to look back on.

    Take care
    x
    Take care
    x

    ReplyDelete
  4. I do wonder about who may read my diaries. A lot of my teenage diaries were written with half a mind on the person I wanted to be, rather than who I actually was at the time, and it worries me that anyone reading would need me beside them as a translator, which isn't likely to happen!

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  5. When I began keeping a journal, it was a way for me to get in touch with what I was feeling. It helped me sort through the myriad of emotions and issues I was dealing with. I'm convinced it saved my sanity. But journal writing is a completely different animal from memoir writing. The journal is private--for my eyes only. That gives me complete freedom to write what I really feel. A memoir needs to be crafted for content, tone, context, story line, all the things a writer needs to think about. With a journal, you don't need to think - just be.
    Karen

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  6. My diary writing became very stilted and lacking in detail after my mother searched my room, opened the lock and read my diary, then punished me for what I had written. It made me cautious in my writing. I look at those stilted pages now wishing I had taken no notice. What I learned was nothing was for my eyes only.

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  7. Loved your post. It is fascinating all the things you can do with a journal, being used as a framework for memoir as well as a place to talk about mundane things. I am an avid journaler. I host/moderate a chat on Twitter called #JournalChat on Thursday at 2 EST for all things journaling. You're welcome to join me! Here's a link for more info: http://journalwriter.blogspot.com/p/journalchat-on-twitter-intro.html

    Be refreshed,
    Dawn Herring

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  8. The one summer I kept a journal was quite an experience. I don't remember why did it, but when I reread it several years later I really enjoyed it. It was just a list of what I did each day and aparently I had a lot of fun.

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I don't post very often, but if you leave a comment I'll know someone is out there reading. And then I will post more! Bwa ha ha!