If you're considering journaling as a New Year's Resolution, Lynn Obermoeller shares some insights here in our last post of 2012. And for those not quite ready to let go of the holiday season, check out Lynn's story, Mistletoe, one of 12 nice (not naughty) tales in Fifty Shades of Santa.
Lynn is a member of St. Louis Writers Guild and Saturday Writers. She also belongs to a critique group, WWWPs (Wild Women Wielding Pens) and talks weekly with another writer friend. You can visit her at her blog, Present Letters (http://www.lynnobermoeller.blogspot.com), on Facebook, or Twitter @Obermoeller.And if you want to communicate with her the old fashioned way, she’d love to write you a letter – send her your address at oberwriter(at)gmail(dot)com
What is journaling and how did you get started?: For me, it’s just the act of uncensored writing – whatever you want to write. To me, journaling is like keeping a diary or like writing a letter. I don’t believe there is a right or a wrong way to journal or to write letters. I’ve always written letters from the time I could write. I got into journaling about 20 years ago when a group of friends and I met monthly to write. We decided to use Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Top priority for Cameron is “morning pages” where you write three pages (preferably in the morning) of whatever comes to mind—no editing, no interference from the inner critic. It can be pure babble (just like my letters). It’s kind of like a warm-up to better writing. Like stretching before you exercise.
I want to say I got started journaling long before that, I just didn’t know it at the time. I was a sophomore in high school and flunking English. The next quarter we were assigned to journal – you could write anything you want, any length, just write something every day. I decided I could handle that. And I fell in love with it. I wrote and wrote. I wrote more than the smartest girl in the class—and that was saying something. It was calming and made me feel whole. Something I desperately needed then. I ended up with a B in English and the teacher wrote in my notebook to consider journalism as a career. I blew him off. I wasn’t a writer. That stuff was just babble.
So, when my friends and I began The Artist’s Way, I loved morning pages, just like I loved writing letters. My censor is turned off when I journal or write letters. I think that’s an advantage, as I know friends who edit as they write. There are a lot of people who edit as they write, and that’s not a bad thing—it’s just not the way I journal. It explains why I was able to handle NaNoWriMo – there’s no editing involved when you’re trying to get 50,000 words written in 30 days.
Has technology changed the process? Not for me. I know people who journal by using a keyboard, but for me it is not the same. I find the act of physically writing to be therapeutic, and I feel a deeper inner connection while writing by hand. Most folks groan at the idea, but I love it. I always have my equipment with me wherever I go.
I tell my friends that if it weren’t for journaling, I’d be locked away. It allows me to get all the junk out. Sometimes answers to questions come through when I journal. I also write down my dreams, and that too, can be very enlightening. I heard Stephen King has gotten a lot of his story ideas from his dreams. I’m not sure if that’s a fact, but I can imagine some of my own dreams and can see how that could happen.
What else would you like to add about journaling? Like letter writing, journaling can also be a way of recording history, the every day happenings of a person. I came across some letters from my mother-in-law that were from her father. There’s nothing written that’s earth shattering, but it was interesting to know what folks did back then; their way of life, how they felt. When my husband moved into our current home, he found letters from the 1800s in an old suitcase in the attic. That was the only way people communicated long distance back then. One particular letter said something like, I’ll see you in Missouri in about six months. Times have changed and even more so in the past ten years, but the written word will always be a treasure, so long as we treat it that way.
Any advice you’d like to give? Journaling may seem like a waste of time—why not get to the good stuff? But I think Cameron was on to something. The Artist’s Way is still relevant today to writers/artists as it was when it first came out in 1992.
Sometimes when I don’t feel like writing much in my journal, I’ll write a letter to someone instead. For me it’s a similar process, only I can keep in touch with someone at the same time… in a different kind of way… a way that’s becoming a lost art. And who knows what kind of mark it will leave on history!
This is T.W. Fendley. Thanks for reading and commenting on The Writers' Lens.You can find out more about me at www.twfendley.com.