My husband gave me a beautiful journal for my birthday. I stared at its gilded cover and turned its pristine pages. “What could I possibly write that would be worthy of this elegant vessel?”
Then I knew. I would mark it up with messy, inky missives with scribbled-out words and splotches. I would paste pictures and memes only I might care about. I want its pages dog-eared. I want it to look used up.
It would be my sounding board, my ear to whisper in, my writer’s BFF.
My Dear Diary.
But I wouldn’t bother writing Dear Diary. It knows what it is.
What it is, is cathartic, therapeutic, motivating and inspiring—to me. It’s about my unique writing journey, filled with my cries and commentary, my personal tips and pep talks, customized for me.
Why every writer should have a writer’s Dear Diary:
- Write with abandon. In my writer’s journal, sometimes my writing is careful and thoughtful, but mostly, it is not. And that is good practice. Too often, I find myself too cautious when I get a story idea and it takes forever—and sometimes never—to complete a first draft.
- Be authentic in your writing. Writing for your eyes only allows you to develop that authenticity.
- Conquer doubt, frustration and fears. Seeing them in writing helps you face them and deal with them. Let it out, and then give yourself a pep talk.
- Celebrate your triumphs—and don’t be humble! For goodness’ sake, you deserve it! Brag about yourself in writing.
- Discover your writing process. I write about where and when my ideas seem to pop up and develop. I have gone for more walks and cleaned the bathroom more often because, yes, these are when some of my best ideas come to me.
- Be bad. Let yourself be snarky, envious, whiny. Frustrated by a string of no responses from agents? Envious because a writing friend sold her story? Let it all out. You’ll feel better. If you read it over the next day and feel guilty, you can always tear it out. But better yet, keep it. Those negative emotions are:
- Useful. Use that emotion in your writing. Maybe your anger produced some good lines a future character can use in a story.
- Motivating. Someone once said: Envy is that feeling that is pointing us toward our destiny. You know what you want. Now figure out how to achieve it.
- Revealing. Being real allows you to look in the mirror. Analyze yourself. Ask some honest questions. Why do you feel that way? What are you going to do about it?
There’s something so inviting about a blank sheet of paper. It’s just begging you to make your mark.
Writing in my writer’s journal is not one more thing on my writer’s to-do list. It isn’t a task, an obligation, or a discipline. It’s like that text you send to a good friend when you want to share some news or vent or just to talk. And who doesn’t need a friend like that?