Monday, May 25, 2015
Journaling is Good for the Author's Heart, Soul, and Writing by Wendy L. Macdonald
Journaling sharpens an author’s ability to shape stories and characters. Although I’m new to writing full-length fiction manuscripts, I’ve had much experience dreaming up plot lines without even realizing it. Eighteen months ago my dear husband suggested I start a novel. He said this shaking his head in response to my vivacious imagination.
There are many examples of my exuberant mind written within the pages of my journals, such as the time I stopped my family from eating baked goods that had been given to us because I wondered about the numerous sudden deaths that had occurred in the giver’s social sphere. (I’ve sworn my family to secrecy about this crazy moment of mine.) But that incident helped shape one of my first manuscript’s characters. And I suspect other antagonists will be birthed from incidents saved within my journal.
Journaling improves deep point-of-view writing skills. A diary won’t do. A journal is for recording our inner thoughts and feelings about what has transpired rather than simply documenting events. Pathos, fear, joy, and passion are a few especially helpful emotions to take advantage of. And it’s this depth of articulation that most benefits our fiction work. How can we write effectively about our protagonist’s strengths and weaknesses if we’re not in conscious contact with our own?
Journaling helps us tap into the inner-motivations of our characters. There’s nothing new under the writer’s quill because we all share the same universal issues (love, family, faith, birth, death, and everything in between). Authors generally use the same proven story structure, yet they must still strive to create unique character arcs with one-of-a-kind plots.
The experience of keeping a journal can give our fiction writing a sharper edge when we mine treasures from our characters’ thoughts (as well as from our own). If we can write a story that pulls others into a realistic world shared from the deep recesses of the protagonist’s heart and mind, the reader won’t want to put the book down. There’s something about intimacy that draws us in, much like a campfire does. Entering one’s own thoughts into a journal makes us more self-aware and potentially more observant of our fictional characters’ desires, secrets, and vulnerabilities. And that makes for good writing.
Journaling alleviates stress through the writing pilgrimage. Recording our prayer requests, our praises, and our personal progress keeps us honest and motivated with our current manuscripts and self-care. The stress-reducing effects of journaling kick in when we write poignantly. From what I’ve been reading it’s not just a newbie, like me, who gets overwhelmed and discouraged in this ever-changing literary landscape. Authors, we know and admire, have had to rethink their strategies, too.
Journaling gives the author permission to leave their concerns within their private pages, go forth, and share their stories. Write. Read. Edit. Query (or Self-Publish). Submit. Repeat. We can trust God to answer our written requests according to his perfect timing while we’re busy doing our part as writers.
Journaling IS good for the author’s heart, soul, and writing! How has it helped you?
http://greenlightlady.wordpress.com where she shares inspirational poetry, prose, and nature photography.
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This is such an important post on writing. A reminder that we can write without the pressure of expectations and word counts. Just write. Just be. See what happens! Thanks, Wendy!!ReplyDelete
Thank you, Sara, for allowing me to share today. I agree we're wise to enjoy times of writing for the sure joy of it. It's also a great way for new authors to develop their writing voice. Blessings.ReplyDelete
Wendy: I am glad to see you are mining the rich ore residing in years of your Journals. Also, congratulations on being a guest blogger here; an excellent choice by this group. ~ RichardReplyDelete
Thank you, Richard, for your encouragement. I'm a fan of both your photography and your poetry--I'm honored by your words.Delete
Journaling has always helped give me writing information ... things my kids said when they were little, thoughts I felt. And has given me so many laughs, especially over the funny things my kids said when they were small. Wonderful, Wendy! Thank you for sharing your heart.ReplyDelete
Shelli, I'm always blessed by your blog posts. They beautifully show a woman who treasures and ponders meaningful moments in life. By the way, thank you for helping me edit my first guest post.Delete
Thanks for a peek into your journaling life, Wendy. It's good to have an outlet where you can pour out your heart without trying to edit or rewrite, and where your emotions are free to express themselves in all their complexity. The example of keeping the baked goods from your family made me chuckle. My brother and I used to make up stories about strangers when we were young, and I'm sure some people would've been horrified by the actions we attributed to them! Imagination is a great gift 😊ReplyDelete
Jeb, you've made me giggle about you and your brother's stories---it brought back memories. And I'm glad I won't see the horrified looks on anyone's face who reads my journals after I'm gone. They're full of spelling and grammar errors.ReplyDelete
Insightful post, Wendy. Interesting how many published authors discourage newbies from starting off with a novel, rather learn the craft via writing shorter pieces. Looks like journalling is one great way of doing that.ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing with us, Wendy.
Thank you, Ian. Congratulations on your recent award. It looks like you've definitely found the writing craft road that works for best you.ReplyDelete
Wendy, lovely post :) I did a lot of journaling when I was younger and found it very helpful.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Narelle. Keeping a journal is helpful in so many ways. It was instrumental during my season of healing---but that's a whole different post for another place and time.ReplyDelete
A friend pointed me toward this blog post. Fascinating! I heartily agree that journaling and fiction writing can go hand-in-hand. I've been keeping a journal since age five, and have seen more than just my spelling and penmanship improve! Everything from POV to plot structure to writing effective descriptions. I now credit my journal as one of the primary tools that advanced my skills. In fact, I published a book about it. http://www.daniellehanna.com/for-writers/ I'm so glad I'm not the only one who's discovered the virtues of journaling for writers! Thanks for sharing, Wendy.ReplyDelete
Thank you for your affirming comment, Danielle. I had no idea I would be writing fiction when I first started a journal---but I knew I wanted to and had to work with words. You've piqued my interest, so I'll be checking the link you mentioned. Blessings.Delete
I can just imagine all those treasures in your journals, Wendy, waiting to morph themselves into novels. What a treasure trove! I love journaling too and it was from these that my memoir 'Soul Friend' was birthed. I had never envisaged I would write a memoir, but when I felt that was what God wanted me to do, I found so much helpful material just waiting there in my journals.ReplyDelete
Jo-Anne, your memoir title, 'Soul Friend' sounds intriguing, and your comment has inspired me not to lose the dream of writing one. I'm presently reading a 'how-to' book. Part of me doesn't want to write it, because I know how humbling it will be to write my recovery story. But I've received enough nudges to know I'm supposed to give it a whirl. So I pray, "Thy will be done." Thank you for your encouraging words.ReplyDelete
Congratulations on being a guest blogger, your's is one of my favorites. Excellent and insightful article Wendy. I accidentally began journaling twenty years ago. I was afraid to express my deepest thoughts to friends and family, so I started recording them in a file I named Thoughts. That journal became my therapist. Today it is the source I often turn to when looking to express emotion in my writing.ReplyDelete
Gene, thank you for visiting here and for letting me in on the secret of how you can have me on the verge of tears one minute with your 'story telling' and then laughing moments later. Your writing is poignant---and that's one of the reasons why I followed your blog and read your memoir.Delete