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Helpful Hints on Writing a Journal

By: Jonathan Hedley - Updated: 21 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Writing A Journal Writing Tips Free

Most of us need some form of outlet for our inner feelings - the things we can't formulate into simple words, the sheer expression of the things we want to share with the world but we don't know how. For this, we have art. Some people are musicians, others dance, paint pictures, pile bricks up, some of us even find beauty is destroying things. Some people make careers out of it. Most of us simply live out our art in the way we live our lives.

Most people develop a passion for writing at some point in our early years. It may last one night or a whole lifetime but one day we find ourselves in a brief niche in our lives in which we have a little space and time to ourselves and the drive to channel some of that inert energy through the tiny tip of a pen. But what do we write about?

The Perfect Platform for the Aspiring Writer

Writing a journal is one of the finest places to start honing your writing skills because your subject matter is already there - your own personal experiences. Record them at the time in which the memory and emotion is still fresh and they become like a literary photograph, a story, that years later sends you spiralling back into those long unvisited and thought to be extinct memories.

It makes sense then, to record the most remarkable experiences in your life, and for many of us, that's travelling. We may never again revisit these places or encounter these people again - these characters in this great play. In fact, you could say it's almost tragic not to keep a journal of these events; to rack your brains years later trying to remember what you did, especially if you're travelling alone and you don't have a companion to divide the cargo of memories with.

Free Writing

If you're keeping a journal purely for your own benefit, you can be free to just let your stream of consciousness flow as if you were wandering through a meadow and painting it all on a giant three-dimensional canvas as you go along. Record the emotions of the moment comprehensively and exhaustively in the time that you have. At a later date, if you wish to make a story out of it for others to read, you can structure it in such a way that does it justice - giving it an element of anticipation, choosing your vocabulary more thoughtfully, adding in the footnotes that you'd previously signalled with asterisks.

Jack Kerouac wrote 'On the Road' - arguably the most iconic and inspirational travel novel ever written - in three weeks, by simply not stopping. This method is called Free Writing and, although not usually employed for a final work, is a great exercise in loosening up and tapping into your creative resources, as well as developing your ability to write in a flowing and energetic style.

The Time That You Have

It's hard to find the time to write, especially when every minute you have is precious and you're soaking up the atmosphere of the places where you're travelling. Remember that to make time to write at the expense of living the dream really defeats the whole purpose of your trip. At the same time, you'll miss those memories if you don't write them down.

Finding the balance can be tricky and often when you have the time you don't have the inclination. For that reason, you have to grab opportunities when the inspiration comes along, even at the expense of sleep, and always carry a small notepad during the day. A writer without a notepad is like a photographer without a camera, and you can guarantee opportunities to scribble down inspired gems of poetic genius will come dancing around you.

Mingle your experiences with your thoughts, feelings and ideas at the time and you'll have more than just a factual account of the things you did but also emotional memories - and memories of a former you. A you that once thought like this and felt like that. You can see how you've developed, how you've learned, and, if necessary, rediscover parts of you that have been lost.

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The great thing about a journal is that it can be whatever you want it to be. It's not for public consumption so it can be a dairy of events that becomes a series of thoughts, or some deep reflection on a topic. You don't need to stick to one thing, simply put down whatever's on your mind. More than anything, it gets it out of your head, which is always a good thing. Use it for whatever you want.
Caroline - 23-Jun-12 @ 8:10 AM
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