Did you know journaling the mundane details of your day can breathe life into your fiction or poetry? Here’s how to harness the power of a regular journaling practice to feed your other writing.
Wish You Were Here
Vivid descriptions of time and place captured in the moment can serve as the basis for scenes in all types of writing. Whether setting the stage for the scene in a play, remembering the finer details of your surroundings for a non-fiction piece, or developing a pool of metaphors from which to draw your poetry, capturing your environment with all five senses creates a treasure trove of sensory input that can be utlized in myriad ways.
To create entries today that you might want to use for inspiration in the future, write with all five senses. Stop and listen to what’s going on around you – the drip of the faucet, the hum of traffic four stories down. The scents swimming about – Murphy’s Oil Soap and menthol cigarettes. How does the light and shadow play? How does the air feel on your skin? Truly engage your senses and illustrate them on the page.
Some of the best dialog in formal writing comes from the real world. If you’re trying to develop your ear for dialog, which can be a tricky thing for writers, listening to those around you can teach you. Of course, you don’t want to go eavesdropping, but start listening to and recording the conversations that go on around you in public.
How the bored cashier interacts with the busy mom in line. The way the barista tells jokes to customers as though he’s entertaining himself. Two strangers discussing sports in the bus seat behind you. Listening to public banter and documenting it in your journal as you go about your day can teach you to recreate the natural rhythm and flow of conversation on the page.
Particularly juicy overhead dialog can even inspire a whole new piece of fiction.
Change Your Point of View
One creative tool for fiction writers is to use your journal as a playground for your characters. Write a journal entry from the point of view of your story’s hero or heroine. Writing by hand, on paper, will put you in touch with them on a deeper level that will connect you to their true desires. The characters will spring to life for you on the page once you understand them on that deeper level.
You may even end up using the actual journal entries in the writing itself.
Out of Context
Another method for mining your journal is to browse through it, slightly removed, keeping an eye out for setences or paragraphs that grab your attention out of context. The older the journal is, the easier it is to forget exactly what you were talking about. But sometimes you’ll stumble across a fabulous idea or a perfect sentence you can use as a starting point for a new piece. Some little gem of wisdom you can run with.
Your exposition may work its way into the mind of your fictional character.
Your journal is a valuable tool for enriching your other writing. Treat it as a resource and mine its pages for inspiration and ideas. The best part? All that material is yours!