14 June 2011

The Writer's Journal: Journaling to Woo the Muse

. . .the finished poem will never be as magnificent as this half-formed vision of it.
~ Linda Bierds, from The Writer’s Journal

My first journal was brass-locked and lavender with tiny blue flowers all over it ~ complete with tiny brass keys ~ that Santa brought me when I was in the fourth grade.  When I re-read my old journals, I only noticed the gaps between entries big enough for both Paul Bunyan and Babe to walk through.  Such a lack of consistency reeked of laziness and indifference. I bowed my head in shame at each missed date – oh the mortal sin of it all!

Turns out, most writers are sinners.  And in this regard at least, that’s not such a bad thing.  Your writing process should help you, inspire you, save your inky rear end when you get stuck.  If you’re chained to it, it becomes a brick wall instead of a ladder. Writing is a fluid art ~ sometimes what worked for you last year is old and tired this time around.  And journaling is just one of many ways to woo the Muse.

In “The Writer’s Journal,” Sheila Bender asked forty writers to explain how journaling affects their writing process and to share excerpts from those journals to illustrate.  The various forms of journaling that are highlighted are as diverse as the authors themselves: Janice Eidus [The Last Jewish Virgin] uses letters to “bear witness to [her] life and thoughts.” (p. 68); Ron Carlson [Betrayed by F. Scott Fitzgerald] writes bits and bobs on “envelopes, folded memos, torn slips, wedding announcements, rodeo programs and such” (p. 38) and keeps them in a shopping bag that escaped being thrown out in the garbage more than once.

A shopping bag?  And I thought my bag of various notebooks was disorganized!

To see how others writers write is at once stimulating and comforting and a fascinating read.  Now I know that when I don’t touch my journal for days, I’m in good company.  And that my system, however quirky or slightly insane it may seem to other writers, works for me.

At least for today.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

What works for you?  Typing in random thoughts on the computer? Writing letters to a friend?  I’d like to hear what your writing process is!

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