About three years ago, I was sitting in one of my writing classes when the discussion turned to a Writer’s Journal. Now at that point I had been journaling seriously for about eight years. I felt like I was being told that I was doing it wrong (admittedly I was imagining things looking back), so I rejected the idea of the use of a journal just for writing. I liked the way I journaled–a chronicle of my thoughts on paper to help me understand my inner landscape.
The Writer’s Journal is a place, usually carried on the writer’s person at all times, for ideas, words, strategies, etc. What I failed to understand is that I could do both. I could keep journaling the way I always have AND I could use a Writer’s Journal. So after three years of obstinance, I broke down and bought a small journal that I keep in my purse. When I don’t have it with me, like in the middle of the night, I jot down my ideas in my phone and then later transfer them to the notebook.
It has been three months and I have only used about ten pages (they are small), but I am developing a habit and a strategy. The pages in the back are devoted to a list for blog ideas. The rest is an unorganized mess of ideas for the current novel, short story ideas, ideas that seem big enough for other novels, time management ideas, and words that I love.
I have learned that I am a fount of ideas. That there is a well inside of me that I can pull up ideas one after the other. I have enough in me to create a book or two, or ten. This is something I have had to come to terms with, and to trust. It is a hard, slippery thing to believe in. The Writer’s Journal has also taught me that writing is like meditation. The idea of looking inside and finding your boundaries, and then struggling with the realization that your boundaries are self-constructed and unnecessary. The raindrop in the ocean, who comes to realize that she IS the ocean.
I have spent a good amount of time looking at other writer’s work and marveling. Wondering how they do it and why I can’t do the same. But then I realized that I can’t because I say so. I am my limit. I am the one who says otherwise. My ideas are only as good as I can conjure them to be, and I can only conjure as well as I believe I can. Tricky.
It has been a slow process coming to terms with being a writer. I didn’t buy a writer’s journal and have it filled over night. It has been a VERY slow process of discovering writerly habits. I say discover on purpose, because it has been less like trail and error, and more like realizing that I strategy or process for doing something already. Without ever having done it before. It’s like excavation. I dig a little more into myself and discover something that was already there, waiting for me to discover it. Nice surprises.