For Christmas, a good friend of mine got me a beautiful Moleskine notebook, with the hope I’d find a use for it. I’m no stranger to notebooks, but I tend to use cheap throwaway notebooks filled with messy jot notes and weather stains. But when I had this one in hand, I knew I had to use it for something more than jot notes.
I decided to start a writing journal.
The first thing you might think is, Isn’t The Diversionist a writing journal? In short… no, it’s not; not really. I consider this blog an exercise in outreach to other writers and a way of establishing myself on the web. That kind of approach means, well… no ‘messy bits’. If it doesn’t have something resembling a point, I don’t feel like writing it here. Plus, my natural paranoia means I’ll never truly have a personal blog, even if it’s merely focused on my day-to-day writing. But while a writing journal would have little use for the public, I thought it might be a good way to keep myself on track and accountable to myself. And, largely, it’s worked even better than I imagined.
What do I use it for?: Journal entries, eleven of them now, exploring my progress and mindset toward writing. Physical notes during meetings, so I have a legitimate record of what is talked about. Ongoing weekly progress charts, where I can map how much and how often I’ve written in recent weeks.
How has it changed things?: In a few ways. The journal entries are helpful for keeping myself centred and self-aware of the ups and downs of my creative cycle. It’s easier to analyse feelings and issues when you’ve got them nailed down onto a page in front of you, and thus easier to work out solutions. I don’t know whether reading them a few months down the line will be helpful, but now I have the option; before, when I would jot down pages of low-cycle angst, I’d soon toss them into the garbage and leave them behind. Also, in my journal entries the early kernels of what will become my next Diversionist posts often surface, giving me a chance to play around with them before typing them up here.
The physical notes during a meeting have also been very helpful. Notes on an iPod or laptop are alright (and easier to send to people), but there’s a great ability to focus on the flow of notes in physical form. Plus, the cautious side of me loves having hard documentation of meetings and what was talked about within them. Ongoing progress charts may be the best addition to my routine. In a glance, I can tell how my work has flowed for the week: whether I’ve written on four different days of the week as I resolved (which has not worked out so far), how many pages I’ve written for the week, my daily average for the week, etc. It also helps me look over the past few weeks together and see the peaks and valleys.
There’s also something very enjoyable about writing in a nice notebook, with a nice pen (my preference: Bic Atlantis, Black. I never leave the house without one.), and being able to write out my thoughts to no-one but myself. I’m definitely going to keep this up.