Thursday, April 11, 2013

Junk Journaling

Most people who journal are not looking at it with an eye toward publishing the journal at any point. It is unlikely that they would even be willing to share it with their closest friends. It is not because we pour out our deepest, darkest secrets there (though we sometimes do), it is because a large part of what we put in a journal is just plain junk. And that's the way it should be.

Natalie Goldberg referred to journaling as a way to turn the compost of the mind. As writers we need to keep our gray matter fertile and journaling helps take all those old scraps of thoughts and allows them to decay together into a new medium to grow fresh ideas.

So when you are journaling, let it all out -- the good, the bad, the stuff that gets in the way of your writing thoughts. Write the crap about that how hot the new produce manager is at the grocery store. When I go back and look at what I journaled years ago it is boring as hell. If I'm going to be boring while writing, my journals are the place to do that. Better there than published for the world to see.

A journal is where I can plagiarize, play with different styles, let my imagination run wild, and dream the weird dreams. A journal is where I can practice being me on paper so that I can strip myself emotionally bare for publication when I need to. In some cases, a journal is where I play with story ideas and make notes for future projects.

Mostly, if I try too hard to journal, I end up just doing a litany of my day. It can be enough to put a caffeine addict into a coma. I tend to journal mostly when I am in a relationship, about to get into a relationship, or getting out of a relationship. All in all, nearly as boring. So I journal less and less often the older I get. I take more of that and put it straight into poems and stories.

Anyway, these days if I choose to journal, I go for the compost. My mind is filled with a whole lot of fertilizer as it is.


  1. I do it because I heard it's a good practice for writers. I hope that's true.

    Happy A to Z blogging.

  2. I've never done this myself but I can see the benefit of getting the rubbish out of your system.

  3. I would be mortified if anyone ever read my journal- but that's because it's just for me, no one else is supposed to see it!

    Popping in from A-Z and like your site. New Follower!

  4. Some really great thoughts on compost journaling. I really should start doing it more myself. Just never seem to make it a habit.