Thursday, March 25, 2010

Jewelry Box Journals



How many of you keep a writing journal? I know that most of us keep a pad and pencil near the bed (we're all weird like that) and some carry a notepad in a purse or pocket. But what about a full-fledged writing journal? I have so many pretty ones, and promise myself I will use them. But I don't. So, I went looking for journal inspiration and found Dorothy Lambert.


Dorothy Lambert's definition of a writing journal (taken from Writing to be Read) is the best I've ever seen. Better than anyone else, she catalogs the myriad uses and benefits of keeping a journal. Her rationale is convincing.
Though a journal may be many things - a treasury, a storehouse, a jewelry box, a laboratory, a drafting board, a collector's cabinet, a snapshot album, a history, a travelogue, a religious exercise, a letter to oneself - it has some definable characteristics. It is a record, an entry-book, kept regularly, but not necessarily daily...inspiration settles on one at the most awkward moments, not necessarily as one sits down to write with a clean page, sharpened pencil, and open mind.
She tells us that "it is not only a record for oneself, but of oneself." My favorite, though, is her description of a journal as "a place to fail." I love that. A place to fail.
That is, a place to try, experiment, test one's wings. For the moment, judgment, criticism, evaluation are suspended; What matters is the attempt, not the success of the attempt. In a journal one practices the lines before going onstage.
Now, re-read that last paragraph. *sigh* I don't know about you, but Dorothy Lambert makes me want to start a journal yesterday! And this time, I will see it differently. This time, I will see it as jewelry box of experiments.


Do you keep a journal?
How do you think Dorothy Lambert would describe it?



Image and jewelry box available a
t www.uniquecollectibleboxes.com/files/1622645/..

54 comments:

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

I used to keep a journal. Actually I used to keep many, but I always ended up neglecting them. I'd have all these memories of all the January - March months, then it'd be blank. It was getting me down, because every time I realised I'd neglected it, despite promising myself 'THIS YEAR I WILL DO IT!' I'd feel guilty. So now I don't put myself through the misery!

Cheree said...

I've tried to keep a journal (so many times), but I always got bored after a day or two... I'm surprised I'm able to think of things to put on my blog each day, but I wouldn't be able to start a journal back up for some reason.

Kimberly Franklin said...

No journal for me. :( But that jewelry box is so cute. Oh and.... TAG your it! Come check out my blog today.
; )

storyqueen said...

I have a book that I call a "writing book" (after Donald Graves' "day book") that is like a journal except that I don't really write in it to record about my life, but to record my ideas for writing and to try stuff out.

I take it everywhere, and I write in it lots. Most all of my books started as ramblings in it.

Shelley

TerryLynnJohnson said...

I was always a diligent journal writer. But in the past year that I've started writing for magazines and blogging and getting a book published, I have stopped doing the journal. You're right, Dorothy makes me want to start again.

Christi Goddard said...

I used to use legal pads to handwrite scenes, then type them in. Now I have a notepad at my desk at work where I got down ideas, then bring them home to sort out. If something strikes me in bed, I get up and type a note to myself on my computer. Not efficient, but I don't want to wake anyone with turning the bedroom light on.

Tamika: said...

I've tried to keep a journal at different intervals of my life. There is one particular period in my life that I wish I did take the time to journal. It would have been a beautiful testiment of God's love.

I appreciate this post, thanks Shannon.

Tara said...

I've had so many journals in my life, and I've never kept up with any. Well, there was that one in 8th grade that a teacher got ahold of and...well, it wasn't pretty ;)

These days, my hand hurt so bad that writing more than a couple sentences is excruciating. It's only the gripping of a pen/pencil, so I'm think maybe arthritis? Anyway, typing is it for me.

Courtney Barr - The Southern Princess said...

Okay I used to keep one diligently, then I would buy those blank journals and write a story in them...completely fill it up with one story - one book. Yep so after that I decided to just write. In many ways my blog is my journal these days. It holds the same type of things I would put in a journal (give or take the contests.. lol)

Love this entry. Thanks for sharing... oh & um WHERE CAN I FIND THAT JEWELRY BOX?!!!

Visit My Kingdom Anytime

Jody Hedlund said...

"Jewelry box of experiments." Love that! It makes journal writing sound so priceless and precious! I haven't kept a journal in recent years, but both you and Dorothy make it sound like a treasure!

Kelly Lyman said...

This was great and I love the new way of thinking of a journal. I do have one, but I keep it for my current WIP- so new ideas, new themes I want to try and weave in the story, new dialogue that jumps out. This makes me want to start a real one where I write anything and everything down.

Jennie Englund said...

Like many of the commenters here, I, too, used to journal. I have 17 books filled with memories with my kids--from the oldest's conception, until he turned 11.

A year ago, I lost the journal-in-progress in Mexico. And I just never started up again.

But this post has made me rethink that.

Thanks, Shannon!

Mary Campbell said...

I think of my blog as a type of journal and I plan to print it out one day. I used to keep a personal journal when I was young, but now the days fly by so fast and I don't seem to find the time. I want to though. Moments of quiet meditation and a record of my thoughts and life is important.

Kayeleen said...

I've never been great at keeping a journal. I look back and wish I had. Things start to get fuzzy after a while. And I wouldn't have lost all the great ideas and thoughts I've had over the years. Maybe I'll give it a try again.

Jamie D. said...

I just love the jewelry box you have pictured. And what a lovely definition of a journal! :-)

Like many others, I used to faithfully keep journals - all through high school & college. Then my not-yet husband started reading them, and while it did get me a proposal, I haven't felt comfortable keeping a paper journal since. I do keep a writing journal in my purse - a small hardbound notebook that I jot ideas down in.

Dolly, a writing/blogging friend of mind has a blog about keeping journals, and inspired by her devotion to it, I downloaded some free journal software for my computer. I'm finding that I really like it - it's not online, so there's no chance of anything ever getting "out", and it's not paper (and password protected), so no chance of prying eyes getting to my entries either. So that's what I've started using, and it's going pretty well. I keep writing stuff in there as well as personal.

Enjoy your new journal! :-)

Patti said...

I have many coil notebooks kicking around the house. I really need to keep all my ideas in one spot, because invariably I can never find what I jotted down.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Apparently, most of us have good intentions but can't seem to follow through. Yep! That's me. Hopefully, the idea of journals becoming drafting boards and laboratories and safe places to fail will be enough to bump us over the hump. :-)

Jen said...

Oh my gosh I am so loving this post!!! How brilliant! I started my journal that the beginning of January and promised to rip NO pages out of it, since that is something I normally would do. It is definitely a place to fail, a place to practice a place to learn!!

Jeanette Levellie said...

I do not keep a writing journal. Sounds like I'm missing out?

Stephanie Thornton said...

The only true journal I keep is for my daughter about all the hilarious and wonderful things she says and does.

I do have a notebook for each book I'm working on. They're fairly disorganized- research notes, outlines, and character summaries.

Carolyn V. said...

I used to keep a journal in high school. I reread some of it a few weeks ago and had to laugh. Most of it was about boys. =)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Shannon -

I've been journaling for about seven years. Ordinary spiral notebooks work well for me. I avoid the fancy ones because 1) They don't have enough room, and 2) I feel bad if it gets messy.

My journal is a place to go over the previous day's events, process anything upsetting, and record the joys of life. I also use it as part of my devotions. I write down anything that catches my attention in the day's Scripture reading.

I think Miss Lambert would view my journal as a testing ground for ideas, a source of writing material, and a dialogue with the Lord. (It's written as letters to God. My friend, Lynn Morrissey, wrote a great book on the subject.)

Blessings,
Susan :)

Falen said...

i do keep a writing journal. But i don't keep one by my bed. I like sleep too much to interrupt it with writing. Also i'm pretty good at remembering my dreams in the morning

Shari said...

You have totally motivated me to get out one of those beautiful books with blank pages I've purchased and write in it! I don't know what I've been saving them for, so journaling here we come!

Heather said...

Actually I've never been good at keeping a journal. Unless a dream journal counts...

E. Elle said...

I haven't used my journal in quite a while. I tend to revert back to it when there's something that I need to "make real" but other than that, I keep things to me, myself and I.

So I guess Ms. Lambert would describe my journal as "waiting for the next installment of pained experience."

Ooh. I kind of like that!

Hardygirl said...

This is great! I love opening up the description of a journal to include a jewelry box, collector's cabinet, etc.

I think I'll declare my bedside table my official journal. It's a pretty good representation of my life.

sf

Bane of Anubis said...

Not too much in way of a journal -- normally I'm near a computer, but sometimes I scribble 'writerly' stuff in my engineering notebook :)

Kenda said...

Like many others, I've had an on/off relationship with journaling--but I've managed to fill almost eight composition notebooks in the last 15 years! For me it's a good place to record, process--and pray :-)

Thanks for visiting my blog, Shannon!

Steph Damore said...

No journal, but I'm with those who say their blog is like their journal. I don't post current WIPs (yet), but I do look at blogging as practice. Every day you write you get better at it. How cool is that?

Mary Aalgaard said...

Yes. I have many journals. I keep the full ones in my cedar chest. I have a prayer journal next to my bed. I have another journal that looks old, so I always write in it in pencil, and has old looking music on the cover. I make journals and I guide journaling workshops (but not often). People are afraid of journaling. My journals look just as messy as my real life. They are the ripped open bare it all words that describe my life. That's why people are afraid of journals. Because to write it, you have to feel it, then see it, and perhaps expose it to another person. It's scary and healing and I love my journals.

Elana Johnson said...

I don't keep a journal, unless weekly emails to my parents count. I do like looking at notebooks and stroking the covers of journals. Yeah, I'm weird like that.

And my safe place to fail is in my MS. Because I know I know enough now to revise it into non-fail.

Terresa said...

I have several spiral notebooks filled with writerly thoughts, starts to novels, essays, poems and just plain musings about life. I read Writing down the bones eons ago by Goldberg who suggested it. It fit right into my life because I have 41 personal journals (so far). So starting a writing journal came naturally, I suppose.

My problem is going back through them now (and finding the time!!) to sort the wheat from the chaff.

Most excellent post, writerly friend.

Elle Strauss said...

I have a scribble journal. I write so small and messy to make sure no one will ever be able to read it! It's not pretty, people. It's just for me to "vomit" up my thoughts and feelings, which can get redundant day after day, but I find it therapeutic. A way to clear the mental and spiritual cobwebs.

Julie Dao said...

I've kept journals since I was in middle school and loved filling them up. I have a box of about 20 completed journals and diaries, and recently I've begun a daily journal again. I love emptying my thoughts and worries onto paper before bed. :)

beth said...

Does my blog count as a journal?

Beyond that, I've recently begun keeping track of my experiences since getting a book deal in a hard bound journal. But without that specific thing to journal *about* I don't really bother.

Jemi Fraser said...

I don't keep a journal. I don't have much time for writing as it is, and adding a journal might send me over the deep end :)

I did journal in high school - then I burned them all to a crisp!

Lisa and Laura said...

I used to keep a journal when I was little, but now I only keep one for my daughter to read one day. Lisa keeps a writing journal--it's chock full of random ideas, let's hope she never loses it!

Shelley Sly said...

I don't keep a journal, but I admire those who do. I'll probably start one when I have kids, more for/about them than about me.

VR Barkowski said...

I keep a daily journal and a tarot journal. I really should go back and re-read them at some point. Beth makes a good point: in a way our, blogs are journals.

CMOM Productions said...

I LOVE the jewelry box! I also really love the way a journal is described in this post. I have kept a journal off and on since I was a kid, but I'm never consistent with it. I do scrapbook and add journals to the pages... but they aren't as reflective of me as a personal journal is.

AchingHope said...

Oh my, this brings up memories. I used to journal all the time, but I gave it up about a year ago when I stared writing a lot more regularly. I felt like I didn't need it as much, since now I let out my rantings in blog posts.

Everyone keeps telling me I should, though... So maybe I'll start again in the Summer.

Susan Fields said...

I don't keep a journal. I know I should, but I've never been able to get excited about the idea. I hope your "jewelry box of experiments" goes well!

Jackee said...

My journal is more of a drafting board, an open-doc, companion to my wip. It has all the notes, hellos, and where-am-I-at-nows that I don't put in the working draft. Other than that, I treat my blog as a journal.

:o)

Rebecca @ Diary of a Virgin Novelist said...

I have a word document journal and a notebook that serves as part journal, part idea catcher, part to do list. I stay away from pretty journals, they become too holy and thus, they stay empty.

Jade said...

I'm always starting journals but I also forget to add to them. Sigh. I actually hardly ever write stuff down unless I'm actually writing. I just carry it all around in my head.

Does that my mind is my journal?

Jen said...

I have an award for you over on my blog!!! Check it out when you get a chance :)

Candice said...

I keep a personal journal. Mostly I record things about my family in it. I also have a notebook for writing poetry. I love it!

Jen said...

Happy Birthday Miss Thang!!!!! You rock!!! Glad I could help make your day a brighter one!

Jen Chandler said...

Shannon, this is filled with wisdom!! I have been contemplating keeping a regular writing journal but have never "taken the plunge". This is the catalyst I needed. Thank you. I think this may be something else I implement in my break!

Thanks for the comment on my blog yesterday!I will definitely keep you guys posted on everything that happens. I may pop in during the break but if not, I'm hoping for a story filled return!

Take care!
Jen

Patti Lacy said...

Oh, MYYYY, Shannon!! Was this a successful post OR WHAT?
I journal NEARLY EVERY DAY. My journal has my praises, my to-do list, my research. Everything that way is in one neat little italian-leather-bound place.

Hmmm. I think Dorothy would describe it as classy but uncreative. LOLOLOLOLOLOL

Patti

Sophia said...

I have a super sekrit digital diary for my day-to-day whinging and I also write a one sentence summary that I would like to do *something* with at the end of a year. Maybe type them up and put them with some photographs, a real journal, so that all I'm left with is the beautiful memories. Because really, when am I ever going to want to re-read an argument or relive a bad experience?

In the physical world, I keep an attic book (name c/o Laini) for writing in and I have a smaller commonplace book that, as the name implies, is a catchall of shopping, book and to-do lists. I'm actually going shopping for a pretty new attic book tomorrow: as a stationery geek, I'm pretty excited!
- Sophia.

ksol1460 said...

Dorothy Lambert's entire "Keeping A Journal" piece was originally published in English Journal, Vol. 56, No. 2, February 1967 and can be found on JSTOR.

I still have a copy of this essay (slightly adapted) which came to me as a handout in high school English back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. There were also some words of wisdom from Ken Macrorie from, I think, Telling Writing, who says the greatest writers never trust their memories, but write down every idea no matter how small; also, that a journal can be a place to learn by imitating other writers.

And a wonderful quote by Leo Rosten from English High Lights (apparently a service bulletin for high school teachers published by Scott Foresman) who says:

Your Journal, your Writer's Notebook, is a place to keep your notes. Mark
different things -- epigrams, a tidbit of history, some remnant of biography (or
some reaction, an observation, sensory impressions, etc.). Pretty soon the notes
begin to fall into categories. When you want something to write about, put your
hands on something you've tucked away wih your "magic box" -- your Journal.

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