Keep a journal or not?

by 21cstories

Every  writer can put milestones of their writing career at various points in life. That article for the magazine or newsletter, or the local publication of Dad’s office. Or plain imitation of stories read in kid magazines. And then there is the journal or diary.

That last one would classify as the archetypical companion of growing up. Did it feel like a magical hour – digging into one’s thoughts, and doing something that no one around appeared to be doing – writing about day to day life!

But now, it’s all done and over. The hair have thinned out. You are a grown up writer. So what happens to the diary?

Standard advice: Write in it every day and see your writing improve. It’s practice. Like singers, dancers, sportsmen, practice everyday you must.

Contrary opinion: Stories are for others. Journals won’t get you there. Use it as a record keeper. But when you sit to write, all those observations, deep thoughts and musings won’t fit into your story. Don’t even try and push them. The story should go on as it must.

No matter who is right, journals and diaries play an important role in our growth as writers.

I filled up 5 yearly diaries in college over 3 years. And then one fine day, went over a hill and burnt them all.

But the effort, even the physical effort (it was all longhand), made a small but vital difference.

It appears that writing everyday trains us to bring out our voice on paper.

Voice on paper? Isn’t that going to happen of its own once I start writing out my thoughts?

Well, what if it doesn’t? What if your thoughts do not come out as you begin to write? Or aren’t well organized? And the writing goes haphazard, moving in all directions till it comes to a jolting halt.

Transferring thoughts to paper is a magic

That’s the biggest fear of a writer. It means not being able to sing or dance as one expected to. Or running around and not being able to hit a single shot in the game.

If you never kept a journal, take heart. But write every day if you want to be able to write well, and at will.