(This is a page from Chuck Palahniuk's journal, which I found somewhere on the web)
I've been sort of obsessed recently with the idea of keeping a writer's notebook. I mean, I've been keeping diaries on and off since I was about eight or nine*, and I'm an obsessive note-taker, and I've kept a lot of the notes I took in school**, but up until recently, I never really thought of it as a thing that I was doing. I just take notes.
No, I keep a writer's notebook. See, I realized recently that between my two degrees, the reviewing and my own reading, not to mention all the writing I do, I have trouble remembering where I get information, what I think about something I've read, what the best quotes are, etc etc ad infinitum. I've apparently trained my memory to hold a whole lot for a short time, and then get really vague when it's not immediately needed anymore. So I started keeping a reading journal, where I note the title, usually the date, and keep a running list of ideas, words, concepts, and quotes from the book or article or whatever (sometimes even stuff off TV), mixed in with my own personal thoughts, conclusions, opinions and so on.
It's great, I love it. I can reference back when I'm trying to remember things now!
Then I started doing the 27 Day Journaling Challenge. This is part of my attempt to get my brain back under my own control, but it's also been really great. It gives a teeny little prompt for each day, something you should do and think about, and it's got me writing a lot more than the minimum, which, let me tell you, feels really great. I've been sort of stalled out on writing new stuff, and this is a quiet, safe, no one-will-see-it-until-I'm-long-gone place to just write, and it's fantastic. It's like a vacation for my brain.
I originally started these two things in separate journals, but lately, they've been starting to merge--mostly because I'm sort of lazy, and if I'm upstairs, the Journal is closest to hand when I have an idea or opinion to jot, and if I'm downstairs, it's the Reading Book. So they're cross-pollinating.
Then, for school, I had to do a lesson plan for something I would want to teach, and I picked ways to generate ideas. It basically boils down to writing them all down, and when I was looking for ways to do that, I came across this idea of journalling for the purpose of inspiration. Writing things that help you writing, not just your mental stability. And I found lists of famous people who kept journals--both day-to-day / historical slice-of-life types, and those who kept journals about writing and art and concepts that informed both.
I recently started reading the Diary of Anaiis Nin, and she does sort of something in the middle, detailing life, beautifully, and thinking about writing and art and all that beautiful Bohemian stuff. It's gorgeous. And it makes me happy. And I want to do the same thing, because I'm like that--I want to be what I admire in others.
So now I'm keeping in consciously, not just as a side-effect of the fact that I will literally start getting crazy without a pen and paper nearby. I already started naming my notebooks for referencing ease a while ago***, and now they have a purpose, as well as a function. My blogs**** are part of it, but not all of it; my stories grow out of this project--I've already written one whole short story, the first in over a year. It's my brain on paper, where it makes much more sense to me.
Do you journal? How do you do it? What do you include, exclude? Does yours have a purpose, or is it free-floating?
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*All of which are in a box in my room, to be pored over by scholars looking to understand my development a hundred of years after I'm dead.
**Some in hardcopy, most in scanned pdf form on my harddrive.
***I write them and fill them much faster than I reference them; I should come up with a way to reference as I go; maybe something to do with post-its. Anyway, I name them nonsense names that help me remember which book is which: the most recent before this shift was a spiral-bound, red book I called "Fall Leaves Scrappy Notebook". Before that was "Green Grass Chimney Sweep Notebook". The Journal is called "1: The Risk of Blooming, Outweighed".
****There's this blog; the personal blog where most of the side-project blogs have been incorporated, Makeshift Surfaces; the blog on my website, SamanthaHolloway.com; my Tumblr, where I collect up all sorts of quotes and words and pictures of things and shows I like; Pinterest, where I do mostly the same; and various apps and sites around the web that hold things for me--bookmarks, lists, etc. The Journal has become a multi-media, multi-platform thing that should be interestingly complicated for future scholars to analyze.