Posted in A Writer's Life, focused freewriting, free writing, freewriting, sparking creativity, taking time to write, the creative process, The Writer's Toolbox, the writing journey, the writing process, writing

Journaling Series Part 2: What is Journaling?

The content in this journaling series is from what I shared with my recent in-person journaling class. My original idea was to try and create an online class, but ultimately decided to create a blog series in which to freely share this information.

Last week in this series, I talked about Why Journaling is Important? This week let’s talk about what journaling is and is not. Let’s also get rid of some preconceived ideas and stereotypes about journaling and understand how powerful a tool it can be for every person of any age.

What is Journaling?

  • Is first and foremost an expression of the Self
  • A form of self-expression that works best if it comes directly from the heart (don’t lie, don’t be in denial, just let it all out)
  • Is a written record of thoughts, experience, and observations
  • It can be something you do regularly or just when you feel you need it
  • There are no rules to journaling, expect for the ones you make yourself (if you decide to make any at all)
  • You are in charge of what you write or don’t write and when you write

What Journaling is NOT.

  • Something you HAVE to do (so don’t stress over journaling if it’s not something that speaks to you, or you only journal every once in awhile)
  • A place where you need to worry about proper grammar, spelling, or punctuation
  • Journaling is NOT just writing, it can include paintings, drawings, pictures, stickers or keepsakes that have meaning (like ticket stubs for a dried flower, ect.)

This sounds easy enough, and usually it is, but I think journaling can have a bad stigma because it might seem to only be for “girls” or something that can be considered boring because no one thinks their life is interesting enough to talk about. I say not at all to both these things. Journaling is for EVERYONE of all ages. It can be very fun too. It all depends on how it’s approached. What kind of journal you keep matters too. What might work for one person, may not be as effective for another.

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Posted in A Writer's Life, beginning writer, learning about writing, lots of writing, online writing classes, taking time to write, The Writer's Toolbox, the writing journey, the writing process, workshop, writer, writers, writing, writing advice, writing collaboration, writing journey, writing workshop

Writing Groups: Not for All Writers All of the Time

One of the first pieces advice I received as a young writer (about eight or nine years ago now) from multiple sources (mostly from writing books and sage advice from published authors) was that to be successful at writing one must join a writing group. I was told writing groups would make me a better writer by giving me a place to talk and learn about writing as well as put me around other like-minded individuals for the support I needed to keep writing.

I took that advice to heart and joined a writer’s group two years after I began my cool hobby of writing, because I wanted to take my cool hobby to the next level.

It was the best decision of my life.

Until that defining moment of joining my first writing group, writing was a fancy. Something I did in my spare time. I had big ideas of being published, but it was a pie in the sky kind of thing. Joining a writing group made me realize that writing isn’t as romantic as I first thought. It’s lot of hard work (and a building of strict discipline and great effort), but work that had a hell of a pay off in the end (and I’m not talking about being published).

Through the help of my new writing friends, I learned that writing was not just something to do or some passing fancy for me, it was a way of life… my new way of life. And for two years, I went to every single writing meeting religiously (every other Saturday afternoon). And no sickness or excuse would keep me from going (okay, so if I was running a fever I wouldn’t go, but you get the idea).

Then I started getting restless. Something was wrong, very wrong and I didn’t know what it was. The meetings weren’t as fulfilling anymore, and more times than not I would come home from a meeting totally frustrated, wondering why I’d wasted hours talking about writing and other things that had nothing to do with writing (because my writing group did love to get off topic a lot).

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Posted in A Writer's Life, getting published, good writing, great writing, publication, publishing, taking time to write, The Writer's Toolbox, the writing journey, the writing process

Publication: Why the Rush?

There are two kinds of writers; the ones who are published and the ones who are not. The ones that are published are constantly looking for new things to write about and launch into the world (they make it look so easy). Then you have the writers who aren’t published, looking at the published authors and saying, “that’s what I want.” So these unpublished or newly published writers race to break into the field, because it’s what’s expected of them.
What is the first thing that people say when you tell them you’re a writer? I usually get, “Make sure to remember me when you become the next Steven King (or whoever)?” Or if you talk to a friend or family member you haven’t seen in awhile, “So when’s that big novel coming out? Did you get it published yet?” It’s all about the rush to be published to get your name out there, because if you can’t justify your writing by publication, then are you really a writer at all?
Interesting that writing has such a push to get results when other pastimes don’t (usually) get that sort of attention. Do your friends ask when you’ll be the next Emerald or Michael Jordon? Do they wonder when you’ll try out for an Olympic team or become the next Picasso? Why the rush?
Why can’t you take the time to make your writing better? What’s the big rush? Do you really want to look back five years from now and say, “What the hell was I thinking publishing that?” Wouldn’t it be better to slow down and make sure you get it right? Good writing cannot be rushed and great writing can only happen when you let it. Just because the piece is “okay” doesn’t mean it should be rushed to the presses for the world to see. Do you really want to be known as an author with just okay stories- or worse?
There are some people (and I know this from experience) that have stories they’re just tired of writing on. A burning desire deep within to get something published makes the rash decision that the piece is “good enough” and sends it out knowing the story could be better- much better. Why the rush?
I have come to the belief that all good things come to those who wait. Those who take the time to make themselves great instead of putting stuff out there and then regretting it. Once a piece of writing is published, it’s out there- forever. There is no going back, no do overs. It’s immortalized in black and white, so why run the risk of having a black mark on your writing resume when you can take your time. Why the rush?
You might be thinking, “Yeah, everyone thinks that way about their work.” Maybe, but wouldn’t it be better knowing that your best foot was put forward, instead of a hurried rush to get to the finish line? I have certainly felt that way about some of my work and have decided that my time means more to me than that and I want do something more worthwhile.
Then you’re thinking, “But if you wait until that happens, you’ll never get anything published.” Maybe, maybe not, but again do you really want something that you aren’t that proud of immortalized in print when you know deep down that you can do better? Why the rush?
Why is it so important to be published right now? Unlike many things in life, writing is one of the areas that you have complete control over. You control when you writer, what you write and what you let the world see. Next time that burning desire comes over pushing to send a story out before it’s really ready, just ask yourself… Why the rush? Why not spend a little extra time getting it right?