Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Jotting Things Down (In Journals)

You've had a 3'o'clock at night experience, right?

You know, when you come up with an idea so brilliant that you can't possibly wait until morning to write it down so you get up and search for a piece of paper in the dark and if you can't find the paper you write on your hand and then when you wake up you have to try to decipher your handwriting?

Yeah, that one.

This stunning picture on the left is the product of one of my middle of the night scribblings.

As you can see, it's got all of the typical characteristics of muse-inspired jottings. It's cryptic, messy, and can only be understood by me.

Hey, kind of like my journal (which is actually where I wrote this scribbled story idea.)

I use a journal for writing down poems, snatches of conversation, descriptions of interesting people, midnight story ideas, opening lines, sermon notes, favorite names, lists (I love lists. Can you tell?), or anything else that comes to mind.

This is the journal I currently use. It was a gift from Hadley.

I used to use my journals (I have about eight that I've filled) for writing down my daily activities. But ever since I started seriously writing, I've found that more and more I only jot down things related to writing.

Today's date last year. 
You're technically not supposed to know about the character mentioned in the above picture. Just pretend he doesn't exist.

Oh wait. He's fictional. He doesn't exist.

Moving on....

Now, I'd like to be specific here. I didn't choose the word "journal" because it fits with the letter J (okay, well maybe I did, but...)

I want to distinguish it from a diary.

A diary is not a journal.

A diary is not a writing journal.

A diary is a notebook in which you write down all your problems and angsty stuff.

A journal is... well, to repeat the common definition, a chronicle of a journey.

(Bonus "J" word of the day!)

So my writing journal is the chronicle of my journey through writing. I can look back at the things I've written, at the random descriptions, the thoughts, the poems and see how far (or not) I've come.

If you don't have a journal or a place to jot things down, I highly recommend you get one.

Download a notes app on your phone.

Buy a pocket sized notebook and a key chain sized pen.

Be ready to record whenever your muse inspires you.

Of course, it will always be in the most inconvenient places - I always find it happens in the car, or in church, or at parties.

But hey! You're a writer. Nobody will mind if you suddenly dive for your purse (or pocket) to write something down.

(It just reinforces the cliche of the mad artist.)

"Not keep a journal! How are your absent cousins to understand the tenour of your life in Bath without one? How are the civilities and compliments of every day to be related as they ought to be, unless noted down every evening in a journal? How are your various dresses to be remembered, and the particular state of your complexion, and curl of your hair to be described in all their diversities, without having constant recourse to a journal? "

- Henry Tilney, from Northanger Abbey

Pictured below: my eight filled-to-the-last-page journals.

In Other News:

Rissi from the lovely blog Scribbles, Scripts, and Such (which I've mentioned before and I highly recommend you visit) has awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award.

Hmm, I guess that means I'm

"Capable of or adapted for turning easily from one to another of various tasks, fields of endeavor, etc.: a versatile writer."

Thanks, Rissi!

The award dictates that you must state seven things about yourself and then give the award to fifteen other bloggers.

For this post, I'll skip the seven facts (there's more than seven on my about me page if you're dying to know). And as for fifteen other bloggers... well, that's a lot. Off the top of my head, here are a few I can think of that fit the description:

Do you keep a journal? What kinds of things do you jot down? Do you use an app for that? 
Do you collect journals? Do you get that thrill when you open a blank journal? When does inspiration strike you?

Let me know by commenting!


  1. Bravo for being consistent and writing every day. That is the key. I have so many I started after receiving a beautiful journal, but did not continue.

  2. I usually use the Notes app on my phone. It's easier than scrabbling around in the dark for a pen! :D

  3. I have, at various times, kept journals. I have them. Somewhere. It would be nice to know where. Kids negate journals. Kids negate time.

  4. @loverofwords - Thank you. I do love getting journals as gifts. The first picture of the post is my collection of empty journals. :)

    @Kyra - yes, that is handy, since it lights up!

    @Andrew - I hope you find them, someday. Unless you wrote anything embarrassing in them... ;)

  5. Hi Lauren, you share my daughter's name! I've been writing a journal almost every day for the past 10 years :)

    This is me, Duncan D. Horne, visiting you from the A-Z challenge, wishing you all the best throughout April and beyond.

    Duncan In Kuantan

  6. Thank you so much, Lauren!!!
    I *adore* this post.
    ~ Mirriam

  7. Hey Lauren! I just finally did a post about the award you gave me.
    Thanks so much for it and sorry for taking so long.
    I do appreciate that you awarded my blog with it!

  8. Hi Lauren...I have kept a journal for spiral notebooks...I have a bunch...and, I have, also been to is a great place! Nona



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