Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The writing journal

        With NaNoWriMo starting next Tuesday, today's topic is timely. I'm planning to participate (unofficially) this year and I hope you will consider joining me. If you do, most of your time will be spent getting words on paper, but I think you'll find the journal described below to be a useful place to store ideas that pop into your head that have nothing to do with your NaNoWriMo manuscript. Record them in your journal for December :).

       Because so many writers, both beginning and experienced, will be taking November as their "get it all down on paper and edit later" month, the writing workshops will be suspended for the next five weeks as we all write our fingers into cramps. I will, however, post thoughts throughout the month designed to keep your (and my!) spirits from flagging. I will use Twitter to post my daily word counts using the hashtags #NaNoWriMo and#dhunterwdct. I encourage you to do the same and if you use those tags we call all see how we're doing.

All right, with no more ado: this week's writing workshop!

The Writing Journal

       Recently behavioral scientists have examined the thought processes that are engaged when we sit down to write. They have concluded what many of us have instinctively known: we think differently with a pen or pencil in our hand than we do when using a keyboard.
We also edit differently when using paper rather than a computer screen. Our eyes see the printed word in a different light (literally) and this can be useful in the editing process.
While we write more words when using a computer, writing in longhand on old-fashioned paper slows us down—makes us think more carefully about the words we use.
That tactile trigger can be a useful way to get your mindset ready for writing and is a useful tool to keep in mind...especially when you're stuck. The key is to not get locked into using just one method or technique. This workshop is about adding to your toolbox of writing skills through the many uses of a writing journal.

There are many reasons for keeping a writing journal. Among them are:

·         A place to record character sketches.
·         A place to write down snippets of conversations overheard that might lead to something.
·         A place to explore an idea you have; to chase it down before it’s gone.
·         Allow a place for “stream of consciousness” writing; the unedited throwing up on paper of what’s in your head.
·         To increase your powers of observation.
·         To help you develop your own writing style.
·         To “get the juices flowing.”
·         To get those haunting phrases out of your system.
·         To provide raw material for future writing.
·         To provide an alternative to napkins, backs of bank statements, etc.

Writing in your journal allows the ideas to “settle”. What you write and think is brilliant one day may, after time, prove to be little more than an ill-worded rant. That’s okay. It’s in your writing journal and no one’s going to see it but you.

Using a journal has the advantage of collecting all your writing ideas in one place. No more scraps of paper or half-torn napkins. Of course, the drawback is that you have to have it with you in order for it to be of use.

Activities: the reflective writer
Being reflective is another use of the writing journal. If you already have a journal, consider answering these questions there. If you do not, any scrap of paper will do .

1.      Set the timer for ten minutes and try to write for the full time as you answer: Does it sound like a writing journal would be a useful tool for you?

Use the questions below if you get stuck.

How would you use it? (Or how do you use it if you already have one)
Where would you keep it?
Will you allow anyone to read it?

2. Get thyself a writing journal.

That’s easier said than done, I know. Is this a case where style dictates style? Should your journal be a hardcover blank book with lined pages inside? Or unlined so you can write whatever way your mood strikes? Should it be leather-bound with fancy tooling or plain so nothing distracts you? Would a spiral bound notebook be better because you can easily rip out pages and organize them in folders later on? What about a composition notebook, or something small enough to fit in your coat pocket or purse? Or heck! Will your journal be digital and kept on the computer or your mobile?

Told you it was easier said than done.

Here’s your activity for this part: Set the timer for ten minutes and write for the full time: For YOU, does style dictate style? Does your writing style change depending on what you’re writing in (or on)?

I hope you're enjoying the writing workshops each week. If you find them helpful, please use the following button to donate to the cause. Play safe!

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