Tuesday, February 03, 2015

JOURNAL

If you've never kept a journal, you should really start. - Me

My father gave me a diary for Christmas when I was about 10 and it stuck. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I recorded it all. I never stopped. There has been a transition to text files and word docs, and the old bound books don't get used so much anymore. Still, I have shoeboxes full of my old diaries. In all of that time writing, I have developed voice. I have figured out what I will and won't say. I have learned an awful lot about myself through it. I have processed incredible interpersonal issues through it.  Perhaps that sounds mundane, but journal writing is very freeing. Once you are secure in your space and you can say whatever you want to, the liberation is ridiculous. You can work out all of that trash. You can converse with yourself about all of the taboos. You can get descriptive. In my case, it builds my memory, because I am retelling my stories to myself. I can go back and look up specific seasons of my life. I can hear the voice. I can hear how old I was emotionally. It is one of the most amazing gifts I could have ever given myself.

So when I am not writing fiction, I am journaling. Avidly. I write myself emails. I send myself texts. I have to process this world that I live in, and my method has always been journaling. I have continued to journal and let my other creative output dwindle for years at a time. Part of that dwindling was survival. Kids. Life.  An example is when I was teaching. That season, I was wiped-out creatively. All of my energy was going into teaching. I had nothing left. I took a summer off and wrote a disjointed novella once, but I couldn't get it straight. I needed to develop more. But you know what? I WAS developing. During that time I was journaling and working on what I call muscle.

Writing is a muscle. I want mine buffed out. There is no cheat to this. You have to do the work. No supplements. No creatine. I get it. All of these years, I have been stressing that muscle hard.

So (as my wife says) What's my point? My point is that I will that all men write in journals. I cannot speak to how therapeutic it has been for me, but I am sure it has been phenomenal. It has also helped me with my written words. My voice.

I'm telling you. I have my written life at my fingertips.

I know that I am a better writer because of it.

If you've never kept a journal before, you should really start.