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Evolution of a Journal

November 11, 2011

Welcome to the Scribbler’s Blog Hop! A dozen fabulous writers are discussing their writing habits and what role their journals play in the process. Please stop by and check out each blog listed at the end of this post.

Evolution of a Journal

This is my FIRST writing journal. The first entry is dated January 1992. My sister came home from college with a short story from one of her classes and I was amazed that someone could just make that up and decided I had to try it for myself. I carried this little journal everywhere and wrote down every passing thought and too many incredibly awful poems. I even signed the bottom of each page. Why? Because I was thirteen and it seemed like the thing to do.

* * *

After the pocket book, I graduated to full grown spiral notebooks which I filled with dark poetry and even darker short stories. In high school I drew designs on the back covers of the journals. I would draw during class lectures or when I was stumped on a story or poem. I worked slowly, sometimes taking months to fill the entire cover. My daughter discovered these journals a few months ago and has now started drawing similar patterns on her own notebooks. (being a mom is so awesome!)

* * *

And now that I’m all grown up (no short jokes!), I’ve moved on to bound journals. I always loved the look of them, but I’d never purchased one because I loved the ease of my spirals. For Christmas last year my daughter bought me the Wicked Witch journal because Wicked is one of my favorite books (not because I’m a witch or anything). And you know what? I fell in love with it. By April it was almost full so for Mother’s Day she gave me the black journal. I use these only for my flash fiction. Handwriting is time consuming and quite painful considering my tendonitis, but I love to write my flash by hand.

I find writing long hand to be almost therapeutic. I think it has something to do with the slower pace of the writing. You have to concentrate on what you’re writing and the words somehow feel more permanent than the typed words. If I mistype a word or decide to change one in a computer file, the original word is deleted and never seen again. No one knows what the original thought was, not even myself. But the written journal holds every mistake, every change or twist that develops in the story. It’s a complete record of the creative process. In my newest journal I’ve even started writing the inspiration for the story on the facing page. As you can see here with my story, “The Storm”, which was based on a Six Word Sunday prompt from EasilyMused.

I also have several spirals I use to make notes or jot down ideas for my novels. I have over a dozen spirals on my desk. Some I’ve had for years, some only have a few pages of notes. I’m constantly buying new ones, some with crazy designs, some with simple, solid-color covers, some skinny, some multi-subject, it doesn’t really matter. I always have one or more with me and I still carry a small one in my purse because you never know when inspiration will strike. No matter when or where I purchased it, or how full it is or isn’t, I never throw them away. I have almost twenty years worth of journals in my closet. I love to go back through them every few years because it’s not just the evolution of a journal it’s also the evolution of a writer.

* * *

Please stop by the other blogs on the tour and see how and why other writers use their journals:

Anne Michaud My Fabulous Cohost and Mastermind behind the Blog Hop

Marianne Su

Victoria D Griesdoorn

Ren Warom

J.A. Campbell

Tammy Crosby

Maria Kelly

Chrissey Harrison

Natalie Westgate

Tony Noland

Larry Kollar aka FARfetched

32 Comments leave one →
  1. November 11, 2011 5:04 AM

    It’s interesting to see how your covers moved from solid colors to patterns and images. I’ve always been a minimalist cover person.

    • November 14, 2011 2:48 PM

      If the cover is boring, the back is always decorated. I don’t have much time for that anymore, so I always buy notebooks with funky covers.

  2. November 11, 2011 5:23 AM

    Your cover doodles remind me of my son’s β€” although he often worked words, names, pot leaves, and newage-y symbols into his. (I should post a pic of his guitar some time.) Me, I can barely draw flies if I don’t shower for a week, so the covers don’t get decorated much.

    • November 14, 2011 2:48 PM

      I did work in a few faces and my tattoo, but no drug refrences. Maybe next time. LOL

  3. November 11, 2011 6:14 AM

    I’m trying very hard not to be jealous of your Wicked journal, your Monster has such great taste! It is quite therapeutic to write longhand — in my case, my pen tip goes through the paper, I’m writing so passionately. I wonder what THAT means…?

    I’m starting to think we should do this blog hop every year, dear co-host – what do you say?

    Happy Scribbles Blog Hop β™₯

    • November 11, 2011 6:35 AM

      I have the coolest kid ever. πŸ™‚ I would love to do this again!

  4. November 11, 2011 6:35 AM

    Your own writer’s history in journals… that’s probably are really nice thing to have, even if the stuff you wrote when you were 13 makes you blush now…

    I have been writing for eight months, and have yet to fill my first spiral bound journal. My laptop is more shiny. It plays music to my while I write, and I can read what appears after I have written it, unlike the mess that passes for handwriting. It spell checks for me, I can access a thesaurus without wasting time turning pages…

    At forty, I am incurably wired for one of my generation, but the jotter’s great for quick notes.

    • November 14, 2011 2:50 PM

      I think because I started with journals so long ago (before we had a PC in the house) that I’m just used to them. If I picked up writing today for the first time, it might be different.

  5. November 11, 2011 6:41 AM

    Danni, I can feel your love for journals and for writing! Thanks for sharing. I’m a hardcover kinda girl myself. BTW, I’m totally in for next year.

    • November 14, 2011 2:44 PM

      I’m so in love with my journals it’s not even funny. LOL When Anne mentioned writing a post on our journals it was an instant yes.

  6. November 11, 2011 7:12 AM

    Love the doodles. I wish I could draw like that. I also love the wicked witch journal and of course, the black one! I enjoy softcover journals and wirebound still more than hardcover, but I think that might be because as a lefty, they’re just easier for me to write in. Great post. Love seeing how the process works for you. πŸ™‚

    • November 14, 2011 2:49 PM

      Yeah, being a lefty makes hardbound journals a little tricky.

  7. November 11, 2011 7:42 AM

    You really do have the coolest kid! I love it! πŸ™‚ Great post, loved seeing the process behind the genius. πŸ™‚

  8. November 11, 2011 8:05 AM

    Are those designs of your daughter, or old ones you doodled? They’re really pretty.

  9. November 11, 2011 8:26 AM

    I used to draw over the backs of my books at school too. Awesome. I love the Wicked Witch journal.

    You have beautiful handwriting btw.

  10. November 11, 2011 10:42 AM

    Love your journals, doodles, ideas, and where it came from. I do like to write long hand, wish I could more than I do. I’ve always wanted a “real” bound journal, a nice one, but my handwriting is so terrible that it seems silly to get something nice to scribble in. πŸ™‚

    Great idea! Thanks for including me.


    • November 14, 2011 2:46 PM

      It’s the scribbles that make me love it. I don’t care if anyone else can read it, that’s why I type it later, the scribbles are for me. πŸ™‚

  11. November 11, 2011 12:06 PM

    To be honest I’m a bit too embarrased to show mine, no one but me can decipher it and its very scuffy. Its one reason I word process a lot of the time or use my MP3 recorder.

    • November 14, 2011 3:06 PM

      I’ve never tried a voice recorder, but I’ve thought about it because it’s a bit difficult to jot down ideas while I’m commuting.

  12. November 12, 2011 1:09 PM

    Wow you have really great handwriting πŸ™‚

    I like your thoughts on how writing by hand keeps all of the creative process, whereas typing on a computer will end up taking things out permanently. I hadn’t really thought of the difference in that way before.

    • November 14, 2011 3:07 PM

      Thanks, Natalie. I find that sometimes when I type, I’ll pull some of those originals ideas/lines/words out and use them anyway.

  13. November 13, 2011 9:29 PM

    You’re so right about having your original thoughts right there so you can see the process…I’d never thought of how important it could be….

    When I think about it, the only work I always write on paper, and not first on the pc, are my lyrics. Songs come to me at the strangest moments and I have to jot down the lyric ideas and the notes at the same time. The back of a google map in the car will do in those moments! LOL!

    Thank you for sharing Danni!

    • November 14, 2011 3:08 PM

      I always write my flash by hand, so I guess that’s similar to you writing your lyrics. It’s a short format where every word counts and I find the writing process to be more intimate by pen than by PC.

  14. diannewaye permalink
    November 14, 2011 3:55 AM

    Love the drawings on the journals – shows another side of your mind working away. Fantastic concept for a blog post.

    • November 14, 2011 3:09 PM

      Thanks Dianne! My photo in another post sparked the idea for Anne and I jumped in!

  15. November 14, 2011 3:17 PM

    A woman after my own heart πŸ™‚ I have two boxes of journals, many because I keep one by the bed to scribble dreams as soon as I wake from them. They’re my grimoires and if anyone really wants to know me, all they have to do is read. I often wonder who will read them when I’m gone and if they’ll discover new about me. I love that you look at the covers especially πŸ™‚

  16. November 18, 2011 3:50 PM

    Thanks for stopping by Diana! That’s what I love about the hand written word, that is seems to have a more lasting feel to it than computer generated documents.

  17. November 20, 2011 11:01 PM

    Wow that is so great you’ve kept up with writing in journals. What a wonderful legacy to leave behind and reflect back on.

  18. December 1, 2011 6:40 PM

    I love peeking into writer’s books and journals. They’re our sacred things, so thank you for sharing yours. Peace…

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