Monday, February 25, 2013

A New Place to Write

By Stacy S. Jensen


A writing journal seems like a logical tool for a writer, but I’ve had a mixed relationship with them over the years.

Several blank ones sit in my office. Friends and family gave them “to inspire” me. Instead, writers block arrived.

Anyone else feel intimidated by a pretty, bound book? It’s the ultimate blank page. It feels permanent or so I thought.

I began my memoir manuscript in a leather bound journal 12 years ago. I knew I needed something sturdy to write my thoughts down after my late husband had a catastrophic stroke.

With a new journal, I've found a new
writing place. I still like my cheap spiral
notebooks, too.
I found comfort in the journal as I wrote my thoughts, the details, and the trivial aspects of my life during this period. It stayed with me for 38 days in that recliner; traveled to multiple hospitals and nursing homes; and spanned four years including near death, life, and death. When I began writing the memoir — not straight from the journal, of course — I used the journal entries to verify quotes and fact-check my memory.

I stayed away from journals for almost seven years. I created stories and jotted down ideas on the computer, on an iPhone, and in cheap notebooks. That changed last Christmas.

Now remarried and a mother of a toddler, my husband gave me a beautiful, brown leather journal. With heavy, lined pages inside, it’s ready for doodles and words written by the toddler or me.

Whether it’s due to my age, experience, or just the presence of a little boy, I don’t feel pressure to make the journal perfect. Toddlers have a way of helping one accept that life can be messy.

I’m putting that philosophy to work in my journal this year. I’ve written notes and the beginning of a short story in the journal. I’ve scratched through words and paragraphs I don’t want to use. My son has scribbled on the pages, too. Revisions are unkempt, but I like the look of them here. Both writing and life can be messy, but it’s always fun to see where it goes.

Writing in this journal is both a fun and serious venture for me. When I fill up the pages, I can add more. This journal is a place for me to write and I like that.

Where do you write — a journal, a notebook or the computer? 



About the Author: Stacy S. Jensen worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for two decades. Today, she writes picture books and revises a memoir manuscript. She lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and toddler.
Blog: http://stacysjensen.blogspot.com Twitter: @StacySJensen




16 comments:

  1. Hi Stacy -- I do most of my writing on the computer, but on trips I also tote a big fat notebook and a couple of pens. The energy is different though. Because I'm a fast typist, I think I access my subconscious more at the computer. When writing by hand, I suspect I'm using a different part of my brain. It's interesting to switch back and forth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I write faster on the computer too Patricia. It's been fun to change it up a bit.

      Delete
  2. Love your 'journal journey', Stacy! I love them, too. Sometimes I misplace them before transferring the words to the computer, though.

    ~Debbie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The "misplace" part can be a problem. :) I hope it doesn't happen too often.

      Delete
  3. I wish I could be more journal-oriented, but, for me, a journal only works for the very roughest of story outlines. I am a computer fellow; it's not a very romantic way to write, I know, but it works.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mike, I think writing is great period. No matter where it's done.

      Delete
  4. I write drafts on my laptop, but notes and ideas always go into paper notebooks. It's messy and never perfect but somehow that adds to the creativity. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm still using the laptop, but am making an effort to write more in the journal.

      Delete
  5. Lovely post, Stacy! I suffer from little notepaper syndrome...constantly grabbing whatever piece of paper is handy to jot down an idea, character name, etc. There are envelopes stuffed with them...on shelves and in boxes.

    So, a lovely leather-bound journal sounds delightful. I appreciate your sharing how the blank journals made you feel sometimes...just like when you have a new piece of fabric and are afraid to start cutting it for the pattern..what if you make a mistake. :) But, perhaps we should keep the words of Bob Ross, beloved TV painter, in mind...'There are no mistakes...only happy little accidents." :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love that Vivian "little notepaper syndrome." I also love the words of Bob Ross too. Of course, when I try to paint, there are a ton of "happy little accidents" on the page or canvas.

      Delete
  6. I began writing long hand years ago in notebook/journals. Then moved to the computer to capture my thoughts more quickly. I have difficulty using my hands now, so the computer is best. I think that there is something to say about writing long hand. A friend who writes adult NYT bestselling novels, has written all 31 in long hand. She prefers to. Then she has an assistant enter her words on the the computer. Blows me away. But, it works for her.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow. That's interesting how your friend writes. When our community suffered wildfires, destroyed homes and evacuations, it really made me think more about "typing" up some smaller stories and get them in the "cloud."

      Delete
  7. Beyond helping one find inspiration, journals are good as practice writing for writers. And even those without literary aspirations can find value in one day being able to read the thoughts and events they experienced years earlier; my own adolescent journals have tremendous worth to me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very true. I had some journals as a teen, but believe those were left behind when I began college. I'm sure my parents have "recycled" those things by now.

      Delete
  8. I write everything out by hand, use to be on the back you know that extra paper that prints out but is kinda useless. I make notes everywhere and then try to keep them together which almost never happens, but when i do, i rewrite them in composition books.
    I even tried to get a little more organized and bought a bunch of books when they were really cheap and now i have many books with a little here and a little there written in each one, so much for trying to organize my thoughts.

    But as far as that leather journal, I want to save it for something really special, not all my scattered thoughts. Oh well maybe i should just write some heart wrenching thoughts in it. It looks so pretty.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Late to the conversation and new to the blog, but I love the topic. I wish I was more journal inspired. I find most of my journals end up being a spittoon for my emotions, and I don't enjoy writing in them or rereading them. I need to go in a different place with them other than a throwback to my teenage angst.

    ReplyDelete