Dear Diary: Journaling for Writers

Girl's DiaryThe Hubster and I recently spent time with our daughter in Dallas, and took the opportunity to visit the Holocaust Museum. There was an exhibit of Otto Frank’s family photographs, father of noted diarist Anne Frank.  Diary of a Young Girl was a life-changing book for me, along with many other adolescents. Anne’s naïve, yet honest account of her time spent hiding from the Nazis is one of the best-selling diaries in history.

Journaling is useful for increased creativity for writers, documenting personal milestones and information to be used in future projects, and synthesizing personal stress. It’s a terrific way to create balance in your life. The sheer act of venting your pent-up emotions on paper is cathartic.

Writing in a diary gives you an opportunity to separate yourself from the events of the day and place them in their proper perspective. When you see a problem written out on paper, it becomes more bite-sized. The space that nebulous thoughts take up in your brain pan could be put to good use thinking about a new story line or lead character.

Noted personal productivity speaker David Allen wrote an article titled, “Finding Your Inside Time,” at www.writersdigest.com. This piece shares insights into fighting stress and frustration in your work and personal life through journaling. “Sometimes core-dumping is the best way to get started when nothing else is flowing—just an objectification of what is on my internal landscape,” said Allen, author of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (Viking).

In addition to Diary of a Young Girl, other famous diaries are The Journals of Sylvia Plath, Notebooks by Tennessee Williams and Go Ask Alice. Historical journals belonging to Lewis & Clark and several U.S. presidents are held in high esteem.

Group journaling is another avenue to make time for writing and networking with other writers. Each person in the group can take a turn conjuring up writing prompts. Reading aloud to the group should not be compulsory, but encouraged. New insights into self and others will be discovered and bonds formed through sharing your inner life.

It’s always a good idea to reread your diary entries, if only to see how your voice has evolved over the years. Keep the focus on your talent, not the busyness of everyday life. Besides, the contents of your personal journal will make a juicy memoir some day!

We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection.”—Anais Nin

Sources: “Keep Your Hand Moving,” Christa Allan, guest blogger on www.rachellegardner.com; “The Power of Group Journaling,” Suzanne C. Goodsell, www.writersdigest.com

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