June 2, 2008

“Making a List, Checking It Twice”

Posted in Writing tagged at 12:10 am by otherdeb


Most people who know me know that one of my passions is journal-keeping. I’ve been keeping a journal since somewhere around my fourteenth birthday, when I was given – like many girls of that age and time – a copy of “The Diary of Anne Frank” and one of those little mock-leather-covered diaries with a key and a lock that supposedly kept it private but could be picked by any enterprising mother with a hairpin.

I outgrew that book pretty quickly, and graduated to a set of blue plastic post-and-bar report covers, where I could, by reversing the direction of the post and bar, add pages of looseleaf paper in chronological order as quickly as I could fill them. And fill them I did.

I wish I still had that binder. It was about four inches thick and full of the dreams, anguishes, and triumphs of my teen/young adult years. However, my mother destroyed it because she was afraid my father would find it. And, while I actually understood why, it’s the one thing that took the longest to even begin to forgive her for doing.

In 1979, I moved into a women’s hotel in Manhattan. A friend had introduced me to the New Age movement and I was taking a lot of courses, all of which not only required extensive amounts of “navel-gazing,” but writing reams about the insights acquired thereby. I find a lot of my writing from that time painful to look at now, but I keep it because it does reflect – for good or ill – where I was at the time.

Eventually, I ended up on the Internet, and started a small writing career (science fiction/fantasy short stories). While I still kept the bulk of my journal on paper, I led some workshops for an online writers’ group on journal-keeping for writers. I got a lot of positive feedback about these workshops, but never managed to figure out how to move to the next step, so that was pretty much where my journal-keeping remained.

Now, of course, a journal does not have to be kept on paper. While some folks still prefer paper journals, lots of others take advantage of blogging websites, such as LiveJournal, WordPress, and Blogger; others prefer to use areas set aside for such things on special-interest websites like SparkPeople; and some folks just set aside a part of their personal webpage.

Still, the main question regarding journal-keeping is more about what to write than where to write it. This series will explore a bit of both in three articles, discussing:

  • Journaling for everyone,

  • Journaling for writers, and

  • Tips and tricks for journaling.

Do you keep a journal? Would you like to? Would it be a general-purpose one, or would it be for a specific project or subject?

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