Thursday, June 7, 2012

Journal Writing: For the Sheer Love of It

Are you a person who has never thought of recording your thoughts?  Never once decided to delve into the world of writing?  But, now you've reached a point in your life when maybe you want to give it a try.

You really aren't alone.  There are so many people who have never thought to do this.  But if you are some of these people, you might suddenly be sitting in your wicker chair, lazy boy recliner or maybe even just staring out of the window of a coffee shop while you ponder the words on the newspaper.

Maybe you are looking at the printed words and are thinking about how can they come up with all those thoughts and put them to paper and have people read them.  You can do it too.  It's really quite easy.

Have you just gotten to the point in your life where you just want to reflect on where you've been, what you are doing right now, or simply where are you going to be in the future?  You can do it.  So many people who haven't even had the desire to start a journal now are churning out pages of really good stuff.

And, of course when you begin, it probably won't all be great.  But that shouldn't matter.  All that matters is that you want to start a journal, and you need to do it now.  Before it's too late.

I once sat in the warmth of my Nana's yellow walled kitchen with a cup of hot chocolate with a doll up of marshmallow floating on the top.  Repetitively, I would be rocking in her glider rocking chair.  So soothing. I would be having a wonderful conversation with her about the good old days.

She started telling me about how she and my Grampy met, light years ago.  And as I was listening to her stories, I told her that she should write it all down.  She seemed reluctant, but at the moment she agreed and said she should.

I wish she had.  I might have discovered more about her past.  She did have lots of great stories that she did share with us, but I had desired to have her start a journal and document it.  She never did, and the year after I got married and moved from my roots in Maine and journeyed to Vermont, she got Alzheimer's and that was it.

She soon didn't know a single one of us and all was lost.  And her memories died with her and what went unsaid and not written down with her was gone.  Unless we remembered things she told us.

                                  My Nana's high school days.   She was so pretty.  And her inner beauty shined.

        Here she was later on at a wedding.  Still before she got Alzheimer's.  After I got married and moved away, she had told me that she had gone into her back room and cried.  She was missing a granddaughter who visited her every Saturday.  All I had to do was walk through the field from my apartment to hers.
And she would fix me my hot chocolate or sometimes those International Coffees.  We liked to save the tins.

So, anyway, if you want to start a journal, there should be nobody stopping you.  If they do, let it get flushed down the toilet.  Don't ever listen to negativity.

How do you start?  First you need to decide what you would like to record your journal in.  I think this is very important.  There are so many options to choose from.  Many of the stores have lots of pretty flowered journals, lined or blank.  Choose which one you might like.  Or pick a few, so you can choose which one you want to write in first.  If you are planning to do this for a long time, you will not be able to just keep one.  You will run out of space.

Sometimes the journals have cool sayings and quotes in them.  Maybe you will be able to be inspired to write from a saying.

Anything can spark your thoughts to flow freely.

Or you might want to create your own journal.  There are lots of software nowadays to choose from.  The sky is the limit.  If you choose to do it on your laptop, you can create the page the way you want it to look.
If you're a photographer like me, you might want to include some of your photos to the journal to make it unique.

Sometimes pretty flowers are nice.  Or favorite places you have visited.  Or maybe you're just inspired by an image.

This flower is one of my photos I took last year and I brought it into my PC program and drew on it for the cover of my first self-published mystery novel, Black Roses.

People also choose to make a handmade one.  Making a handmade book is actually quite simple.  You could decide to get some art paper and fold the pages over and you can learn to sew up the binding.  It's pretty easy.  I've tried it before.  You will need a sharp needle.  And then you just sew up small sections and then bind them together.  Then the fun part is creating a cover.  All art stores carry bookbinder's material and all the tools needed.  Perhaps in another post, later, I can walk you through step by step.

A collage cover is quite fun.  Even just sifting through magazines for your collage pieces are great.  I took a year in college of a collage class.  It was great.  As you can tell, I'm also an artist.  And a published writer.  I can hardly wait to publish my new novel next year.

Okay.  Now you have by now chosen the journal you are going to record your thoughts in.  Or here's another thought.  You might even choose to have a public blog that is a journal.  That is really fun too.  It's up to you.  Choose to keep it a private one or go public with it and share it with the world.

If you choose to do this and really decide to push your journal online, there are many, many social bookmarking tools to do this with.  Last year I was social media illiterate, but this year I have learned so much more about it.  There is no end to where you can get the word out there about your passion.

This year, I have been social bookmarking with Twitter, Face book, Buzz feed, My space, Linked in, Blog her, Triond, Stumble upon, Pinter est, Delicious, You Tube sometimes, Digg, Wikinut, Wizzley, and several or more other places.  Also, a must if you want to gain readers to your blog, is that you have to constantly be reading lots of blogs.  And not just ones in your niche.  Read everything under our bright sun.  My mother always told me to read, read, read.  And Mom, I am.  She's probably up in heaven somewhere shining down on me.

And comment often, leave a link to your blog, so people can decide if they want to pay a visit.  And don't just comment with two words.  Leave a unique comment.  Think about who is reading the comments.  If you leave something interesting, that is going to be the hook that tells them, I want to go read his/her writings.

I've been doing this a lot lately, as I want my blog to become really popular someday and to have it be a successful blog.  And when you are blogging and writing your journal.  Always strive for quality over quantity.  You can still do quantity, but think quality every single time.

But when you're first beginning your journal or if you want to keep it private, record whatever your heart wants.  It's yours and yours alone.

And if you choose to have a public blog, add pictures.  People want to flock to a blog that is also visually exciting and appealing.

So, are you stuck on what you want to write about?  Don't worry.  The words will come.  Sometimes it just takes a little bit to release some tension and let your words pour down your private river, stream, lake or ocean.  Mine would be the biggest ocean in the world.  I tend to just type, type, type.  I keep going sometimes.  As if my magnetic fingers can't get enough of pounding on keys.

But, I occasionally get writer's block too.  It happens to us all.  Anyone who has ever taken up the writing life will gladly tell you about the woes of a writer.  Or as I will call it here:  BLOGGERS BLOCK.

If you find it hard to write sometimes, how about keep a separate journal or notebook for writing down prompts.  I have done this several times.  I did it earlier last year when I was writing poetry.  For that, I would just write down words and phrases all over the place.  I kept jotting things down fast as it came to me.  And let me tell you, the page was messy.  And I even started another blog on Blogger called Blogger's Block.  Which I need to get back to at one point.

You can keep this notebook about anything.  Memories.  Things you like.  Things you dislike.  Favorite things.  Foods.  Movies.  Hobbies.  Gardening.  Family.  Parenting.

Maybe you want to record a certain part of your past so your children will know.  Or maybe you are older and you want to record what your life was like growing up in a little neighborhood in New York or any state you grew up in.  Record your favorite memories.  Milestones.  Events.  Do it for your children.

You want to leave a legacy for them to pass down to their children.  And so on......

That's what I am working on for my children.  Whether I become a famous artist, photographer or writer and crafter.  I want them to know what my life was like.  I want it to be as if I am here with them, sitting down next to them with wings on my back, listening and laughing with them.

If you don't choose to start now, maybe you never will.  It's your choice.  Keep it to yourself and let it be buried with you?  Or grab your favorite pen and paper or your favorite laptop that's your best friend and keep writing.  As long as your mind is fresh and your hands and fingers are good shape and your body is working fine, there are words that need to be said.  You've got a vast container in that brain of yours.


Jennifer Jo Fay

June 6, 2012

I've said enough for this post, but we can talk about all kinds of things about journal ling and blogging.  The world is our oyster, no pun intended.  And yes, I just did a cliche.  Sorry, but once in a while we need to be reminded of those.

Once, in a Woman's Writing for a Change class, our instructor had us jot down anything that was a cliche, just to get it out of us.  That was fun.

Join a class too.  You can learn from people from all walks of life.

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