Ten writers for children. All with something to say.
Journals: A Personal Resource of Ideas, Experiences, and Emotions
The pile of journals pictured to the left is only part of my archive of ideas and experiences gathered over the years. I began journaling at age fourteen when my parents took me out of school for six weeks to travel around Europe. Because my father was a flight engineer for Pan American Airways, we could fly for free if there were empty seats on the plane. The journal I faithfully wrote in every night of that trip is now a priceless account of my teenage emotions and excitement about that memorable trip through Italy, France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, England, Scotland, and Ireland. When I first dug it out of the bottom of a desk drawer years later, I laughed at some of my childish words, but I was also amazed at the details I had included. Memories of that wonderful family trip flooded back. Since then I’ve used bits and pieces from that journal as well as many later journals whenever I find I need specific details about setting, emotions, characters, or images. Some of the same details have been used more than once in my poems and stories. Since they are my own words, I don’t have to worry about plagiarism.
When I keep a journal, I feel a sense of freedom. I don’t have to worry about plot or character or theme. I simply write what comes to mind or strikes my fancy. I use it as therapy when going through a difficult time. I use it to describe places I visit and people I meet and don’t want to forget. I use it for phrases, words, snatches of dialogue I’ve overheard and may want to use in future stories. I often have more than one journal going at once.
For me, a journal is akin to an artist’s sketchbook. It hones my writing skills and acts as a supplement to my imagination. It has a certain random quality—sometimes a place to store things that have caught my attention and started my imagination rolling, sometimes a place to experiment or to try out first lines. Often it is an account of my day-to-day existence and is essentially private. Above all, it is a resource I can return to time and again.