Keeping A Journal: Making Sense Out Of Nonsense

I never had a diary. Ok, that’s a lie, I did, but I was awful at writing in one. I have a bad habit of walking around the stationary section of book stores and perusing through the shelves while my fingers dance over the velvet, or velour covers of various journals and notebooks. I would always think to myself “I should write. I have a lot of ideas and it will shut Sparky up about me and writing.” So I’d dish out the $12.95 for a little notebook that is bounded so tight that I can barely keep it open long enough to write “dear diary.” Without fail, the book will stay tightly bound because I will most likely lose interest after the fifth entry.

Even when I was younger I liked the idea of writing. I saw my friend’s journals or diaries laying open on their Barbie vanities and think that they must have so many important things going on in their lives to be able to fill all those pages. I always had good intentions; I’d write a page or two about how I hated my older brothers or how I thought a certain boy was cute, you know, all the things that plague 10 year old girls.  However, without fail I’d get bored and the journal was sent to the bottom dresser drawer with all my previous failed journalling attempts. Little did I know that keeping a journal would help me get through the beginning stations of writing.

When my darling of a writing buddy Ana told me that blogging should a part of our venture into the world of writing I was scared out of my mind. There we were Ana and I with our husbands sitting around drinking Scotch, occasionally waking my kids up with our hoots of laughter and she drops this bomb on me. I didn’t have a problem with the idea of people reading my posts; as Sparky so nicely pointed out not many people would be reading our blog in the beginning. I think its because I’m not there staring at those reading our blog and analyzing their facial expressions and body language to see if they like what we wrote. Potential readers wasn’t my problem.

The problem that I foresaw, and eventually came to fruition, was the problem of what would I write. What could I possibly write that would interesting to read?  When she told me that its suggested by the literary gods that a blog post should be about 500 words in length I almost fainted. (Of course, I should have known that wouldn’t be a problem. I’m sure you noticed that my posts tend to run on the longer side of 500…ok, ok, they’re usually pushing 1,000.)

The next day I woke in a panic. Write posts….twice a week….twice! Doesn’t she understand I have problems coming up with ideas for my novel? Now I need to write something on a different level, and post it, twice a week! I couldn’t control my breathing. I was panting. I was sweating. The walls were closing in on me. Then I heard a wail from one of my kids signaling me that it was time for breakfast.

While the kids were eating their oatmeal with bananas I sat down in front of the computer and stared at the computer. Without realizing it my fingers graced the keyboard and little words started appearing on the blank screen. All my fears, doubts, thoughts were flowing out of me without warning. Sometimes my sentences made sense, most of the time it was just little blurbs, phrases, thoughts. I felt calmer after doing this and the prospect of blogging didn’t seem so scary.

I journal every day, or I at least I try to. Even when I spend time on my novel I make sure I at least write something down that’s not novel related. It gives me a chance to just write nonsense. It doesn’t matter if spelling isn’t right, or if the comma is in the wrong place or if I stop in the middle of a sentence to start another one. Its for no one’s eyes but mine. The best part about it is that almost every one of my past posts came from a journal entry. A thought that just popped in my head while I was writing nothing and it turned into a full blog post that people have read and commented on. Amazing.

Do you keep a journal full of random thoughts and ideas? What helps you pull ideas together? And is your journal glittery green like mine?

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About Karen DeLabar

A writer who divides her time between her family and her computer while sparing some time to her other loves of theatre, books and scotch.
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11 Responses to Keeping A Journal: Making Sense Out Of Nonsense

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Keeping A Journal: Making Sense Out Of Nonsense | Have Coffee… Will Write -- Topsy.com

  2. 2blu2btru says:

    I have kept journals and diaries for as long as I can remember! I had a friend buy my first “teenage” diary on a trip to the state capital–your post just reminded me of this (I may put it on my writing samples page).

    I get so many blog ideas, novel ideas, story ideas, from my journals. I am working on (or attempting to work on) a memoir of the year (and two summers) I was out of college in between my junior and senior year (long story, hopefully :D), and I keep going back to my journal to mine it for how I was feeling, what I could write about, and what was important to remember about that time. Admittedly, they are more sparse and far flung than I really want them to be, but that could be a chapter by itself!

    Most of my diaries actually end up being composition notebooks or spirals these days (easier to write in), but I still have some pretty Border’s purchases–a blood red velvet covered one that has Love Notes on the cover among them. What usually happens is I’ll reread a journal (or online diary, or blog) for ideas. I’ll know I have something when a sentence or phrase gets stuck in my brain like a fishing hook, right in one of the wiggles.

    • Kaye Peters says:

      That’s great that you were able to keep journals – it takes dedication.

      I must say one of my journaling attempts was freshman year in college and it is amazing to be able to read accounts of life back then and relive them. It actually helps me keep things in perspective.

  3. Ana Quinn says:

    I have never been good at journaling, and I haven’t even tried in years, although I probably should. (And I definitely want a glittery one!) When I get stuck and can’t write, I tend to just type short silly stories that make no sense but get the words flowing again. Basically, just a stream of consciousness story, whether true or not. Which is pretty much like journaling, except I don’t have pretty colored books in which to write. I just have a black computer. Oh, and I don’t do it regularly. So, it is really not that much like journaling at all. 🙂

    • Kaye Peters says:

      Not true, I think that is a form of journaling. And you know, what I say is always right, so there you go. 🙂

      In all seriousness I do think thats a form of journaling. To me journals can be anything from writing sappy love poems about your first crush to stream of consciousness stories whose sole purpose is to get your brain cells firing on all cylinders.

      You’re writing, and that’s all that matters.

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  6. Lisa says:

    I have numerous journals. I love buying them. Some of them are actually filled completely, but most (I admit) have feeble attempts at daily journaling that fade away when I hit a tough spot and can’t face the blank page. Inevitably, I try to start again, making a creative middle page announcing the time passage . . . A Year Later . . . or something. But that never works. When I am on my serious journaling stints, I must have a new journal and make new attempts. Oh, the poor trees I’ve killed in the name of starting over. Anyway, sometimes I read them over and do find material or memories that I feel like revisiting in other form.s

    • Kaye Peters says:

      Don’t worry, I’ve killed many a tree as well, that’s why my husband suggested I start to journal on the computer. But I when I pass the stationary section of a bookstore I can literally feel the pretty journals calling me. Of course, by just being there amongst all the books I feel inspired to write which means that I must buy one of those pretty journals with the pretense of filling it with my genius. However, we all know that it will just end up in the bottom drawer with all my other attempts. But hey, I try.

  7. Pingback: Keeping a Journal — Ian's Messy Desk

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