An Introduction to Journal Writing


Douglas Johnston of D*I*Y Planner is starting a new book project and shares the first draft:

"Journal writing. What a terrifying and intimidating concept to many
of us. It’s rather like keeping a diary, some consider, but one we have
to take far more seriously, and one that will shame us to the core
should its ill-conceived words be read by another. Others conjure up
images of literati sitting in Parisian cafés, sipping expressos by day
and sucking back brandy or absynthe by night, committing all their
complex thoughts about la condition humaine to their sacred
little notebooks. Still others, beguiled by the mysterious power of
becoming a creator, see journalling as a form of automatic writing, a
way of channelling higher spirits into words upon a page, completely
uninfluenced by the hand that inscribes them.

Hooey. Those are all ridiculous notions, ones that arise from fears
and stereotypes. There are plenty of reasons to keep a journal, and
very few of them involve any higher calling, or desire to be
psychologically laid bare and naked for the world to critique. Journal
writing, in its simplest form, is for collecting, remembering,
exploring, and providing focus; all of us –whether we’re a depressed
teenager or a world-hardened scion of industry– can benefit from
keeping one, and on so many levels.

I kept a journal religiously all the way through high school, a
receptacle into which I poured my overly-personal teenage angst
–punctuated by alternating periods of elation and melancholy– and
collected my half-formed poems (which, of course, were about angst in a
more general sense). I wrote vociferously, often churning my stomach
into twenty pages a day, and made copious sketches, diagrams and lists
whenever I felt the calling. I continued to spill my guts and blood
–albeit in a slightly more educated fashion– all the way through
college, often skipping classes to commit dreams and wild-eyed
speculation to the pages, scribbling till my right hand cramped up and
then trying to write with my left one…."


[Thanks to Barbara Benton]

Photo: "Life on the Edge"
By theprint on Moleskinerie/FLICKR

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