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Writers and Editors (Pat McNees's blog) RSS feed

Why writers keep journals, notebooks, and/or diaries

A few extracts (quotes), not unlike what you might keep in a writer's journal:

 

•"Always carry a notebook. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea forever.” ~ Will Self, quoted by Judy Reeves in A Writer’s Book of Days (See a long, interesting selection on that Amazon page.)


Not a Journal Person? Post-Pandemic Might Be the Perfect Time to Start (Anne Carley on Jane Friedman's blog, 5-5-22) A journaling practice can serve as a laboratory for your writing and your life. See Your Journal as Time Machine (5-12-22): Our unprogrammed available slices of time, only a few minutes per slice, become time confetti. We can use them to write in our journals. The pages of our journal can transport us from the here and now to snapshots of our internal world, over the years.


Morning Pages (Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way) "There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages– they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand."
---"Julia Cameron’s time-honored three pages a day have populated millions of journals."~ Anne Carley


• "The daybook is a record of my intellectual life, what I'm thinking and what I'm thinking about writing." ~ Donald M. Murray, A Writer Teaches Writing


•"Writers react. And writers need a place to record those reactions....That's what a writer's notebook is for. It gives you a place to write down what makes you angry or sad or amazed, to write down what you noticed and don't want to forget, to record exactly what your grandmother whispered in your ear before she said good-bye for the last time.... A writer's notebook gives you a place to live like a writer, not just in school during writing time, but wherever you are, at any time of day." ~ Ralph Fletcher, A Writer's Notebook: Unlocking the Writer Within You

• "Pay tribute to all the everyday and extraordinary things. Everything's essential; every thing belongs in the pages of this notebook." ~ Natalie Goldberg, The Essential Writers Notebook: A Step-By-Step Guide to Better Writing


Silent Companion (Anne Carley, Bacca Literary, 11-16-20) "I turned to my green notebook. I needed to sort out my feelings about this good news that turned sideways when it revealed a transgression. I found a steadfast companion that night.... Open to whatever I write, annotate, or doodle, it welcomes me every time. Virginia Woolf’s ideal, a framework 'so elastic that it will embrace anything, solemn, slight or beautiful that comes into my mind,' is attainable."


• “[T]he habit of writing … for my own eye only is good practice. It loosens the ligaments. … What sort of diary should I like mine to be? Something loose knit and yet not slovenly, so elastic that it will embrace anything, solemn, slight or beautiful that comes into my mind." ~ Virginia Woolf, A Writer's Diary

 

"The writer's notebook is a sourcebook of collected insights and a testing ground for ideas. . . . [I]t's important to know the differences between this sort of notebook and a diary, so that you avoid making entries that will not help you. A diary is a daily record of events. It is for recording everything that happens. A writer's notebook, on the other hand, is for recording only special perceptions that might serve as the core statements of essays. These insights may arise from the particular way in which you view something that occurred during the day, from your response to some book, or simply from an unsummoned idea that pops into your head.

To illustrate:

Diary: Finished reading Norman Mailer's book about Gary Gilmore.
Writer's Notebook: Mailer ennobles the killer Gary Gilmore in his book.
--This shows how naif Mailer is. The most satisfying part of maintaining a writer's notebook is that it becomes a record of how your perceptions change and grow over time."

          ~ Adrienne Robins, The Analytical Writer: A College Rhetoric


8 Reasons Keeping a Journal Can Help You Reach Your Goals (Joshua Becker, Becoming a Minimalist)

 

Several of the quotations above and others can be found at Writer's Notebook (Richard Nordquist, ThoughtCo., 2-12-20).

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