Wednesday, September 4, 2013


I'm not really big on journaling. I know that many people swear by it, but I find it time consuming and I tend to devolve into a list of what I did that day. I can do that by just keeping my to-do lists from each day. When I was a teen they tended to be focused on the latest boy I had a crush on. While that served a purpose, it wasn't all that helpful to me as a writer.

However, there are three things that I do write down and keep a log of.

One of these is a diary of the odd things that happen in life -- big and little -- that don't fit in to the normal pattern of things. I can go weeks, months, or even years between such things. And I do mean odd. If you have been reading my blog you can probably tell what some of them are. For example, I will write about the time I saw a UFO, found a python in my bathtub, locked my keys in the car while they were still in the pocket of the shirt I was wearing, or was charged by a buck while raking leaves in the my yard. I will also keep track of the cat throwing a dead mouse in my face while I was still asleep in bed and of the past life regression therapy I went through. These things are an important encyclopedia of life.

I don't need to keep track of what I had for breakfast or what I felt about it at the time. I do want to capture those offbeat moments. They can even be the more sedate that getting stung by a wasp on the pussy while in my own bathroom. They can be about the day two friends and I went into the mountains and set my mother's ashes free to return to the Earth Mother.

My journaling is for the extraordinary moments of life. The real keepers. These are the moments I will return to when writing in the future. Those other moments happen daily and I can reach out to them at any moment.

Another thing that I will journal about are dreams. I am not into taking them all down, but the ones that stand out are important. I don't need to make a note of the dream where someone was watering my
piñata, but I will keep track of the one about a girl who lost her memory and was only healed by the appearance of the family cat. That is the stuff of literature. I will also keep track of ones that give me insight into myself and my relationship with myself and others. These can teach me not only about myself, but how to write a meaningful dream sequence.

A recent example would be the dream I had in which I had taken up cohabiting with Patrick Jane (The Mentalist, played by Simon Baker). My father (who passed away 14 years ago) was in our apartment having a fit at me for living with him and not being married. I defended myself to him (which was difficult in real life) and my right to be loved. He finally stormed off and I turned back to Patrick, complete with all of my own insecurities about whether it was really possible for anyone to love me. There was another woman somewhere in the picture so I finally asked him if he really loved me. He looked very deeply into my eyes for a long moment before responding "Yes, I do." I was thrilled.

I awoke from this dream with some warm feelings about Simon Baker/Patrick Jane that lasted temporarily. What was more important was that some part of myself that was represented by him had given myself a level of approval that I was desperately needing -- so much so that I shut down the negative voice (Dad). 

The third thing that I will "journal" is the story ideas that come to me. Sometimes they come fast and furious and other times not at all. This is a way to keep a well of ideas to refer to when I need a new idea. I don't need to worry about not having an idea because I have a large record of them. This is especially important with the approach of each November and National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

NaNoWriMo is the annual challenge to writers for them to write a book (50,000 words) in a single month, Many of the writers who do this approach the month of November with trepidation for not having any ideas. This will NEVER be a problem for me. To all of those baffled Nanos out there -- yes, I am willing to share.

Some of these ideas can be kind of strange, but I catalog them all. I will undoubtedly never use them all, but they are there for me should I need them. I do a similar thing with article ideas, but that is recorded by bookmarks for websites.

You will never find me straight journaling about doing the laundry, but you might find me creating a humorous essay about it. That is a different blog post.

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