WIP Wednesday: Writing Journals!

On average, I'd say that I do 80% of my writing on the computer, in a cacophany of clickety-clacking on the keyboard.  The other 20% is written the old-fashioned way, good ol' pen on paper.  My weapons of choice are usually a Sakura Micron 0.5 pen (color depends on my mood or what I happen to randomly grab) and one of my many writing journals.

I used to try to consolidate my writing into one journal at a time, before deciding that different journals for different projects was a good idea, and then ending up just writing in whatever was closest to hand. 

I also used to try to keep my writing journals free of doodles before wondering WTF I was thinking and doodling away. I now find that doodling is an organic and often necessary part of longhand writing: it keeps me busy while I think about what to write, without the time-sucking distraction of things like YouTube or Bejeweled Blitz.

My doodling habit began when I hit college and found that some lectures were very dull and my classmates' insightful discussion frequently left something to be desired; I sought refuge in the blank spaces of my notebook, alternately scribbling down stories and doodling like a maniac. People thought I was a studious notetaker.  And actually, I was and still am.  I just drew a lot at the same time and buried story-snippets amidst notes about Murasaki Shikibu.

Not pictured: Alz's notes from Japanese Literature.
Pictured: Alz's writing journal from Barnes & Noble.
Writing by hand works best for me when working out short story ideas or just kickstarting a stalled project.  It gives me more time to think about what I'm writing as I'm writing it, and I find it's often easier to force myself to keep on writing when I have a pen versus staring at a computer screen with all the alluring attraction of the internet tingling at my fingertips. 

I like journals with large margins at the top because that's where I jot notes and follow-up ideas and corrections, word banks and name possibilities and whether or not I'm hungry at the time of writing.

Margins are also good for random unicorns that have nothing to do with the story at hand.

My handwriting, as you may be able to tell, is a symphony of calligraphic perfection.  I never have any trouble reading my handwriting, particularly when I'm lazy or in a hurry to get stuff down.  Though it humbles me to say it, I am a paragon of penmanship.

I like flipping back through old writing journals because it gives me a sense of accomplishment, i.e. wow, I filled up an entire journal!  It's quite superficially satisfying as well as more seriously gratifying to know that even if it's a journal of rough starts and srsly unfinished bznss, there's a body of work to work with.  You can't work with nothing, after all.

It's even more gratifying when I flip through old journals and find forgotten encouragements that I wrote to myself.  Like this one:

So there's a glimpse into a couple of my writing journals. Do you keep a physical writing journal?  Do you like to write longhand?  Speaking of hands, do you think better when your hands are busy?

And last but not least, stay tuned for a special NYC vlog from Krispy coming on Friday!

P.S. (from Krispy) Also, if you haven't heard/seen it yet, LYDIA KANG has an agent!!! She's one of the coolest bloggers we "know," so go congratulate her! :)


Tere Kirkland said...

I love to write longhand. Especially when I'm stuck. I do doodle, but only when I need to draw something to properly describe it. Otherwise, I am not the best artiste. My drawings are purely functional, sad to say.

I use my notebooks for outlining and drafting whole scenes at a time, and then when I'm revising that's the best way for me to work through my thoughts.

I love it when you share your drawings, Alz!

Jolene Perry said...

That's awesome.

I USED to keep "real" journals, but my hand just can't keep up with my brain. CAN'T.

It's SO hard.

I write longhand only when I don't have a choice.

Connie Keller said...

I've always wanted to be a person who keeps a journal. I've started lots of times, but I never keep it up. The closest thing I have to a journal is my blog. Does that count?

ali cross said...

ROFL Alz. You totally crack me up. And hey, every story is made better by the presence of a unicorn. No?

And NO I do not EVER, write longhand. I will jot notes, if necessary, but I don't write that way. EVER.

Did I say never?

I do keep a writing journal with me when I'm writing on the computer though. I use it to jot down notes - scenes I know need to be added, corrections or questions I have on what might have gone before. I'll address the notes in my first pass on revisions.

Then I add more thoughts during each revision and .... it goes on and on :)

Golden Eagle said...

I recently started keeping a journal in which I write a single sentence that's as descriptive as I can make it every day, as a kind of exercise to generate ideas and just to keep the writing juices flowing.

I stopped writing entire stories out longhand a few years ago since I kept getting cramps and it just took a lot longer. Plus, there isn't so much paper floating around if it's on the computer. :P

Lydia Kang said...

I love your doodles! I got yelled at in French class in highschool for doodling. I should send her that article that shows doodlers absorb more lecture info than non-doodler. Take that, Madame!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful doodling. I have a specific and very shiny notebook for one of my more recent projects and for everything else a rather tatty looking book. I can't write in spiral bound books, they irritate me.Otherwise I write on printer paper sometimes with a line guide I made for myself like I used to in primary school.

Angela said...

I like doodling. Not to say I'm good at it, but there is definitely something comforting about the nonsensical shapes I color and shade. Also, the scratch marks all over the page. What can I say, life is good.

M Pax said...

My handwriting is often hard to read, especially since I've had carpal tunnel, so I tend not to write longhand. I do like to outline and write character bios and organize in journals though. I have an idea journal, and usually keep a journal or more for each project.

I like your drawings. Nice touch.

Bkloss said...

So I just LOVE that you included pictures of your journals. Awesome.

Mine aren't nearly as cool looking as yours, but I agree, I seem to think better with a pen than staring at a computer screen.

Pen = weapon of choice. Ha!

Bkloss said...

So I just LOVE that you included pictures of your journals. Awesome.

Mine aren't nearly as cool looking as yours, but I agree, I seem to think better with a pen than staring at a computer screen.

Pen = weapon of choice. Ha!

Alz said...

Tere – Let's here it for longhanding-when-stuck! I think my ability to force myself to keep on writing with a pen in hand is probably a throwback to all those AP Lit classes and the pressure of cranking out essays in class.

Jolene – My hand can't keep up with my brain either. :P My fingers do a halfway fair job when typing, but sometimes that little extra "can't keep up" time lets me chew over what I'm writing a bit more, which space is sometimes welcome.

Connie – That does indeed count. Also, I can't keep a physical (non-writing) day-to-day journal unless it's online, and even then it's intermittent. My writing journals sometimes have gaps of weeks or months between entries too.

Ali – Hmm, using a writing journal for in front of the computer sounds like a great idea! I might have to try that. Although I have a feeling it might end up as a tool for procrastination and end up filled with dinosaurs fighting unicorns rather than useful notes. But then maybe I'll write a story about dinosaurs fighting unicorns and it'll prove useful after all, just not in the way it was intended.

The Golden Eagle – I've always wanted to have a daily-writing-exercise journal! Sadly, I lack the consistency and dedication to actually keep one. I've tried it a few times and the longest I managed was a few months before I left off and never went back. Now my writing exercises are just tossed in with the rest of the regular writing, as and when I remember and feel like it.

Lydia – Oui! I took French in high school and a year or so in college. I had good engaging teachers both times though so I actually didn't doodle as much, and when I did, I sneakily did it so that it vaguely looked like I was illustrating my vocabulary notes.

Happenence – I like spiral bound journals because I can fold them back and lay them flat. I don't like breaking the spine on perfect-bound journals. But I do admit a certain fondness for writing on loose-leaf paper, be it blank or lined. Sometimes it just feels satisfying, like when you have a craving for a certain food and you get and it mm.

Angela – Just like some of my best ideas come to me in the shower, sometimes they come to me while doodling stuff that has nothing to do with what I'm supposed to be writing. Clearly relaxation and letting your mind drift/concentrate on something else is conducive to creativity.

M Pax – Boo on carpal tunnel! I like outlining in my journals, but I've never successfully been able to organize things in them, be it plot or revisions. It just gets too messy as I keep on changing my mind and crossing things out and drawing arrows all over until it looks like my pen exploded on the page.

Barbara – I only took pictures of my journals from recent years, after I let myself start doodling in them. Prior to that, they were pretty boring and utilitarian-looking!

linda said...

Ooh, awesome doodles! I used to write out beginnings of stories in my journal. When I wanted to develop my ideas more seriously, I too tried to have one journal per story idea. Now I just write everything -- random plot ideas, potential character names, to-do lists, notes to self, whatever -- into the same notebook. Yeah... it's kind of a mess. :P