So I made a thing. I’m excited about this, and excited that I can finally tell you about it – and gift it to you, if you want it.
I’ve been getting on with a daily journalling practice for some months now, and talking about it on (and off) social media. I’ve mentioned it here once or twice, and on Instagram, and on Facebook – it’s become part of my daily routine, and I really value the opening up and creative space that it brings.
Why do I journal? Well, for writers, it’s very common to become blocked or held up in some way. This needn’t be catastrophic – sometimes a bit of time away from a tricky corner in a story can bring some distance and allow you to solve the problem and re-find the direction in the narrative.
This has happened to me, a number of times – I’ve written myself into a corner or not known where to go next, and have sat staring at the screen and picking at my fingers for a time before walking away. This might be metaphorical (closing the troublesome manuscript and working on something – anything – else) or actual (the Derbyshire hills are great for that). Whatever – often the mental and/or physical distance allows a bit more processing to take place, and a solution presents itself.
When that doesn’t happen, though, the block or hold-up can become longer-term, and can get bound up in self-identity (if I’m not writing, am I even still a writer?), self-confidence and all that icky negative and destructive stuff. Fluent and productive writing depends on so many things, emotional state being one of them; you don’t need to be happy to write, but you do need to be open. Being blocked can cause writers to become shut off from their own creativity, sometimes for weeks, months or years.
One way to get through this is to trick yourself into writing. If the Big Project is too scary, work on something else – smaller, less stressful, fewer expectations, no judgement. Put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and see what comes out – might be something useful or interesting, might not. But that’s ok, because you’ll be writing, and that’s what’s important.
For me, this is the wonder of journalling. I have sometimes gone for months without writing a creative word on whatever my current WIP might be, but starting to write in a journal – regular, routine, no pressure, short bursts, no eyes but mine, someone else providing the ideas in the form of prompts – has kept me producing words, and therefore still able to think of myself as a writer.
And then, once I’m writing – even if that writing is nothing more or less than a list of orange things, or a description of the taste of my morning cup of tea – it once again becomes A Thing That I Can Do. It’s not scary anymore, it’s safe, it’s non-threatening, and it’s creative. And eventually, the blocks shift and I return to my WIP and find it’s not that scary after all. So far, my fickle muse has always returned. Sometimes reluctantly, sometimes not in the same clothes she left in and occasionally clearly hung over, but she’s always come back.
I am so passionate about the power and goodness of journalling for writers that I want to spread the joy. So I’ve made you a present. If you click here, you can sign up to receive my rather lovely free download containing an introduction to journalling for writers and seven prompts to get you started.
I’ve also set up a Facebook group, Journalling for Writers – we’re a small select band at the moment, but some of us are about to embark on a two-week seasonal writing workshop with the lovely Beth Kempton. I’m looking forward to sharing the experience. Join us, if you’d like to!