Hello there and welcome back! I missed last month, sorry about that.
Last time I talked about my primary writing tool, the digital story bible.
This month I’m going to delve into another step in my rather chaotic process. The writing journal.
Beginning when I was very young, I wrote in a notebook I carried with me. When I was in school it blended in with my other school books, later I switched to smaller ones that could more easily fit into a bag or pocket.
In the years since I’ve switched to a digital format. I keep all my thoughts and ideas in a digital journal, it’s one of the notebooks in my OneNote that I talked about in my last post.
I have, in part, returned to physical notebooks and journals in the last six months or so. This happened for a variety of reasons and I partially blame Grace Duncan (fellow author) and Elizabeth North (owner of Dreamspinner Press).
Every year Dreamspinner Press hosts an author workshop and all those in attendance are given a nice welcome/gift bag. There’s the obligatory beverage receptacle (travel mug, water tumbler with straw) with the Dreamspinner logo, name tag and lanyard and lovely journals among other things. Every year is a little bit different.
Anyway, I’ve been keeping these super sweet journals on a shelf in my office. For the longest time I was afraid to use them, I might ruin them or not organize them the right way.
Grace pointed out there was no right way and leaving these journals sit unused just wasn’t right!
So, determined to put them to use, I bought some colorful stick on tab dividers and made one journal into a reference book. In there I keep things like the HTML codes I use on my website and in my newsletter, a list of reviewers and what format book they prefer. Who to go to for a blog tour, dos and don’ts of social media and promotions and other miscellaneous information.
Grace convinced me to try using one for story development and the third I plan to use as a coding notebook. I began taking coding classes and believe it or not, much of the early stages of website coding is done on paper! Go figure. The Dreamspinner journal is a perfect size for coding projects. All that aside, they’re pretty impressive looking.
At work I help maintain much of the machinery that runs our lab. I need to have a list of some error codes and remember how to reset software. I use a little notebook with a homemade suede cover for my personal reference. We have shelves full of user guides, but I find a few notes jotted down of the most commonly needed tasks is easier and simpler. Using my OneNote was hit or miss since the building is cinder-block and the WiFi is sketchy at best. One draw back with digital journals is you do need a way to be online to use them. Besides, handing my phone over to a coworker who needed the information wasn’t something I was comfortable with, a small notebook was a good work-around. And it’s cute!
To further my handwritten journal evolution I discovered refillable travel journals. These are perfect and pretty cool looking. Seriously, I’m so much about aesthetics I sometimes think I was an interior designer in a past life. I love color and texture in everything! Travel journals not only have removable/movable/refillable pages but many come in appealing colors and textures.
Since I’m not really permitted to be on my cell phone, or a tablet, at work, other than on breaks I would often make notes on scraps of paper. Little, pocket-sized journals are easy to carry and fun to use. I also tend not to misplace, throw out or otherwise lose them like I did with the scraps of paper.
In this picture you can see my big DSP journals, my little handmade one and then a few travel journals I purchased or were given to me as a gift.
I’ve read a few articles that explain the difference between how our minds work when we use a digital format and when we old school it and use paper and pen. (Of course I have fun colored pencils and gel pens to go with my journals!) Our brains actually fire different synapses and different parts are engaged depending on whether we type out notes or hand-write them.
For me handwritten notes seems to bring out the most creativity and that’s how I’ve been brainstorming. Everything I write down goes into my digital journal because the handwritten stuff looks like this:
As you can see, it’s a general mishmash and very unorganized. Writing my bits of ideas out gets the creative juices going. Transferring those ideas to my digital formats organizes them. It’s there I add pics, maps and research links.
My system is ever evolving, hopefully for the better. What I like the best about both methods, digital and physical is they’re portable. I love have access to all my writerly stuff all the time everywhere I go. (I’m sure there’s a blog post in that statement somewhere.)
Every writer needs to develop their own system that works for them. We’re creative types so, at least for me, the tools I use have to be appealing to look at, nice to hold and make me go ‘ooohhh‘ even just a little bit.
Until next month!
Anyone who would like to check out the products of my insane scribbling, it’s all on my website! Click on the banner below to take a journey to Emotion in Motion.