Henry David Thoreau said “Write while the heat is in you. The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with. He cannot inflame the minds of his audience.”
Journaling is a great tool to assist in the process of creating. Whether you are a writer of fiction or non-fiction books, newspaper, dramatic or humorous plays, or my personal favorite of poetry, a journal can help you capture ideas while the iron still scorches with impact for your audience. Your creative writing journal can be the source of many incredible creative pellets. It can be a source of impactful details to add color and texture to a story. It can be a clarity tool helping to vet different approaches. It can also be the best friend of a writer that is creatively “blocked” by providing fresh and solid material from entries you have not yet used.
Here are just a few ways creative writers use journals:
Reminiscing. Going down memory lane can be a tremendous source of material for stories, plays, and poetry. There is no other person that has the clarity that you have on your own personal life experiences. Even the experiences of your friends can provide some tangible tidbits for some great tales. Make notes on your story, and remember the details or give the story fresh scenes that you wish occurred. For your friends’ stories, you may not have all the details, but make notes on the story and imagine the parts you don’t know. You friends may like your outcome better. Ask yourself questions to include color and grit to the story, questions like “What did characters see? What were they thinking? What did it all feel like? What led up to the event? What happened next?”
Looking Around. Not only is people watching fun, it can be one of your best sources for characters, especially fictional characters or as characters in your poems. Make notes about people you know; take your creative writing journal to a coffeehouse, a mall, a restaurant, or to the park and describe the people: their appearance, body language, voices, and interactions. By the way, you also have scenery too. Jot down what you see – like the decor, landscape, and architecture. Also describe the weather, the colors and textures, the light and shadow. Go beyond what you see – observe sounds, smells, and touches. These details will bring your story to life and paint a picture for readers.
Eavesdropping. Typically eavesdropping is not seen as a good thing, but listening in restaurants, stores, passing conversations – can be humorous and revealing. Listen to the words they use, the pauses, inflections and vocal variety of their conversation. You can even write down dialog excerpts when you hear it. If you wait too long, you’ll find the sentences coming out in your own voice – not your character’s voice. Learning to capture different voices on paper will help you with dialogue for stories or scripts. It can also be a source for poetry.
All great writers build characters, scenes and emotion – this makes the details so important and this takes time. Write it down while observations and thoughts are still sizzling hot! Don’t lose the fire of your story and journaling in the moment keeps the fire burning bright.
To get your journal visit the Solutions & Tools page.