I remember as a high school student the concept of journaling became a huge part of classroom activities. The idea of sharing one’s thoughts and visions and whatever else you could come up with now applied to every topic in every class, English, History, Chemistry, Biology….Blah Blah Blah. Some of those topics didn’t even need a journal, I mean seriously imagine journaling in a math class – “Dear Journal, today in math I learned that x + y = z. Oh and I hate math and it sucks and I don’t care about x or y or z or any other individual letter.”
I can still hear my evil witch of an English teacher saying, “Your homework is to journal about your feelings about Shakespeare’s Hamlet and be prepared to turn them in tomorrow.” Really? You want a me, a hormonal confused teenager, to share my feelings about Shakespeare, and you want me to turn in my private feelings for a grade. Plus you might share them with the entire class…..You’ve got to be kidding! Needless to say by the time I graduated I despised journaling. To me it was a fruitless activity I bullshitted my way through, and wrote the majority of entries the night before it was due.
As I matured, I found that I couldn’t commit to the idea of writing a journal every day. When I did journal it was often at a point of great emotional crisis and then I didn’t touch it again. I had no consistency because I’d learned to think of it as a chore and not a pleasurable activity. I remember once having a fight with my ex-husband and rushing into our bedroom and scribbling out ten mad pages of hateful words and depressing thoughts. Then I left and he read every single word and admitted his sin of violating my privacy to me and most likely his family (He was weird like that). Then writing my feelings became a vulnerable extension of myself, one I didn’t want to share with him or the world. So I stopped writing all together, no stories, no journals, no novels, just grocery lists and checks.
Now that I am divorced, I write more freely. No one lives in my home and has access to my thoughts. I share my work with a select few until I feel they are ready to see the light of day or a publisher/agent desk. I still hold some animosity towards journaling. Perhaps it’s because I view it as homework and therefore lacks the fun factor. Maybe it’s because I feel obligated to do something, when quite often I have nothing to say to a piece of paper every day. My life isn’t that interesting and I’d hate it even more if I found myself writing, “Soooo – I had oatmeal for breakfast. Went to work. Came home. Played with dogs. Read. Wrote. Went to bed. Same shit – different day.”
Then I’ve come to realize as a society we have moved to a journaling in a completely new way. Blogging is a heightened form of journaling. We share our thoughts, our feelings, our interests, and interpretations. Blogging is an extension of ourselves. It is a directed form of journaling and writing enjoyed by the masses. I can share my writing in a different medium with others and the only feedback I get is comments and not grades.
Now that I’ve had my life turned upside down with my house I’m starting to take a good hard look at prior conceptions and reaching out to the future in a different way. I’ve realized that I don’t need the rigidity of writing in a note pad, or sticking with a topic, or writing about my feelings. I can type in a private document an only going list of thoughts and ideas in one place and I’m journaling. I don’t need to focus on saying something profound or even that it makes sense to anyone but me. I’m going to start journaling outside the classroom mindset and into a completely new mindset.
Here’s hoping to some sort of success!
What are your thoughts about journaling? Do you have a place where you collect your thoughts and ideas? How does your journaling affect your writing?