I started writing in a journal when I was in grade 3. One of my teachers took my parents aside on parent-teacher night and suggested that they get me a notebook so I could write my ideas down. I think this came about because I wasn’t paying attention in math class, but it in hindsight it was likely one of the events that lead me to writing.
I journaled daily for years — until my mid-twenties, in fact. I have boxes full of journals of all shapes and sizes stored in a basement somewhere. There are the pink, sparkly ones of high school days, filled with “I love so-and-so’s,” and lots of stickers, the angsty tirades of my early 20s, the day-to-day scribbles of my early 30s. I reduced my journaling to a few times a week as I grew older, and recently, I stopped.
I broke my life-long journaling habit because it was interfering with my writing.
For months I had been getting up at the crack of dawn to scribble my thoughts and feelings into a notebook. By the time I finished, the day’s writing time was nearly over. But there was more than that to the end of my journaling: it wasn’t a positive force in my life anymore.
Journaling can become an excuse not to write other, harder things, like fiction. (Fiction might not be harder for everyone to write, but it sure is for me.) I was spending more time writing about myself, and less time writing for others.
Before I quit journaling altogether, I wrote myself a list of the pros and cons of the art of journaling.
Pros of Journaling:
- It helps you get to know yourself
- It gives you an outlet to vent your feelings in a place where no one can get hurt (unless your brothers steal your journal, break the lock and read it — speaking from experience :)
- It creates a record of your life that can perhaps be shared with others
Cons of Journaling:
- When you have limited time, it takes time away from writing
- You can fall into a pit of self-reflection and over-analyzing
- When all is said and done, most of our journals won’t be found on more than one person’s bookshelf, which of course isn’t the main reason most of us journal, but, if you want to write for others…see number one above.
How about you? Do you write in a journal? Has it ever interfered with your writing?