I’ve noticed something: whenever I’m most scared about writing my novel, I automatically start prewriting in my journal. I may only jot an idea, a quote, or even a few lines of dialog. But it’s so much easier to start there, where no one will ever need to see how untidy the writing is.
From there I go to a notebook, preferably a cheap one. Maybe you learned this from Natalie Goldberg as well? You just fill cheap notebooks because they’re so unassuming. I have a stack that I bought two years ago for like ten cents each.
There the ideas get refined. I write in big letters, skipping lines. If my thinking is really sloppy, I might rewrite it in list form, numbers and all. Then I make a list from that list until it all (for the moment) makes sense.
Or I at least have a direction to head in. Truth be told, I love the initial chaos, the passion for an idea that eludes me, slipping somewhere between consciousness and that place between pen and paper. The idea that has to be reckoned with or the earth might implode. 🌎
Then, the laptop.
There are many reasons to love laptops and their kin. For writing purposes, not so much.
Before you call me a hypocrite when you see me clacking the keys, let me explain.
I need the laptop. It’s as if I’m wearing a suit and heels when I use it, though. In ways I get more done, sure. But it’s not as much fun. I’m not as fearless at it. Still, I do plenty of laptop writing and revising for convenience’s sake.
(I still think I mainly do it to look like an adult. And because agents frown on getting pages torn out of a notebook mailed to them.)
Back to that journal: it was in my journal recently that I wrestled that latest writing dilemma and determined that I would decide once and for all, no turning back. Rock, paper, scissors. It meant trimming, rearranging my WIP, but that was the easy part.
I’m not someone who journals to impress. No way! Mine are an embarrassing mess. Rarely do I write a line in one that impresses me. My entries are quotidian and banal, mostly.
That said, there should be a special place without Netflix or pizza forever for those who violate someone by reading her journal. I’m very serious.
Once our house was broken into when we lived in Nashville, and the police are pretty sure it’s someone who knew us. Why? Because my journal’s pages had been turned as if someone had read it — it was a spiral bound book. Talk about feeling violated.
Do you journal? Does it shape your creative endeavors? If not, what purpose does it serve? I’m always eager to talk process.