Why You Should Start A Journal!

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I’ve been actively writing since I was in the 2nd grade. It all started with a red furry diary that my mom bought me at The Disney Store. It had an embroidered Mickey Mouse head on it and I took that thing everywhere! Since then, I have had about six journals. I may not have saved all of my journals throughout the years, but for me it was more of a method to cope with issues I was going through “at the moment”. I didn’t fill up my journals so that I could go back one day and reminisce (although that can be fun); it was a way of releasing all emotions-good or bad. Can you imagine what my journals from Junior High look like? CRINGE.

There are many different types of journals and different ways to get started journaling, and I will share everything I know with you! But first, why should you start journaling?

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(You can purchase this journal here)

Reasons to Start Journaling Now

  1. Journaling Helps You Harness Your Creativity. The best thing about starting a journal is that you can make it completely unique to your style. From the décor to the content, everything about it can be entirely you! I used to think I wasn’t a very creative person, but I enjoyed drawing and writing so much that I began a journal specifically for unleashing my creativity! Remember, you don’t have to put your journal on display, so be as creative and unique with it as possible.
  2. Journaling Helps Reduce Stress. The main reason I continued to journal throughout my college days was to reduce my anxiety and stress. Sitting in a quiet room, reflecting on your day, and writing it down can really help to center your emotions. Or if you are like me and would rather not reflect on your worst days, you can always do a little fiction writing.
  3. Journaling Is A Way To Document Your Life. My early years of journaling were strictly documenting the events in my life. It was absolutely crazy to go back ten years later and read about the moments I completely forgot about. If you are someone who loves to capture all of your memories, journaling is a great way to do so! Hint: If you have ever kept a baby book, guess what? That’s journaling!
  4. Journaling Helps Assist In Personal Growth. I remember going through a journal from my earlier years and thinking, “wow, that decision I made definitely didn’t work out for the best”. It’s difficult not to grow from any type of journaling. You may begin to see yourself becoming more organized, becoming a better writer, achieving more goals, being more creative, and showing signs of overall personal development.

 

With so many positive reasons to begin a journal, it’s no surprise that journaling has become super popular! This is also because there are so many different types of journals to fit every lifestyle!

Types of Journals to Keep

  1. Creative/Art Journal. An art journal is a way to express yourself through writing, drawing, painting, coloring, etc. It’s usually more artwork than actual writing. Scrapbooks, sketchbooks, and portfolios can be considered art journals.

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Artist Unknown via Pinterest

  1. Gratitude Journal. A gratitude journal is a way to reflect on the good throughout your day. You write down words, phrases, or moments through your day that you are truly thankful for. This type of journal is a great stress-reliever!

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  1. Writing Journal. My favorite journal is my writing journal. I use my journal to better my writing by filling it with writing prompts and ideas for stories. Everything in it is fictional, kind of crazy, and completely my own!

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  1. Bullet Journal. Bullet journals are all over Pinterest right now! It is a unique way to plan, sketch, organize, and journal all in one. Using graphs, doodles, and calligraphy, they are a creative way to do it all!

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  1. Stream of Consciousness Journal. This is probably the most common type of journal, especially for younger writers. If you have a diary, then you have this type of journal. It’s basically a journal that you fill up with whatever you are thinking at the moment- how your day was, memories, reminders, anything!

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6. Prayer/Meditation Journal. If you are a spiritual person, this might be the right journal for you! A prayer journal can be anything from bible study, bible verses, or your thoughts to a higher power. A meditation journal is a personal reflection following meditation or a spiritual emerging.

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There are so many other types of journals you can create, and it’s easy to find ideas on how to get started! Sometimes I will go to Pinterest and search “journal” and look at all the creative and unique journals out there. If you’re interested in getting started, here are a few of my favorite resources.

Resources

How to Use a Gratitude Journal

Writing Prompts

Bullet Journal

How to Start a Prayer Journal

HAPPY WRITING!

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How To Deal With (And Get Over) Writer’s Block

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Flashback to one month ago: I was pestering my boyfriend to sign up for National Novel Writing Month with me, I was scheduling how much writing I was going to do daily, and I was actually excited about maybe writing 50,000 words in  month.

Fast-forward to today: We are thirteen days into NANOWRIMO and I have managed to write not the 26,000 words that I planned for at this stage, but ZERO. ZERO WORDS. How did this happen?

I’ve haven’t been feeling very creative lately. I know it has a lot to do with how stagnant I feel in my life. Not that I’m complaining, but I’ve kind of fell into a routine and I’m the kind of person who needs change constantly to grow as a writer! Luckily, I’ve been able to pull myself from the unforgiving grip of writer’s block before and in the end it always works out.

Dealing with writer’s block is hard. It sucks. You feel helpless and inadequate. You start cursing the day you were born and begin to convince yourself that you shouldn’t be writing at all. But, the most important thing to remember when you’re writing is not to take yourself too seriously. Not everything you write has to be reminiscent of Faulkner and Hemingway. In fact, it doesn’t even have to make sense. There were countless times when I would just ramble on a sheet of paper and from the nonsense something believable and real was created! Here are a few tips to help you get over writer’s block:

  1. Get out and do something new. When I settle into a routine, I feel less creative. Get out and do something that’s completely new to you or something you haven’t done in a while. Inspiration can literally be found anywhere.
  2. Talk to people. When I’m feeling a little un-inspired I talk to people. Not about writing, just about anything. My grandma used to tell me the craziest stories, one of which actually inspired a story I’m working on now.
  3. Work on something else for a while. I’m the type of person that can work on multiple stories at once, so if I’m having trouble with one I can easily step away and try to work on another. Not everyone likes doing this. So, you can always work on something entirely different! Paint a picture or do some crafting, you’re only going to stress yourself out more if you force yourself to write.
  4. Read your favorites. Most writers have authors that inspire their writing. My advice would be to read as many books as you can by those authors and become familiar with their writing. When I get stuck, I’ll go back and read some of my favorites and it gives me the courage and the inspiration to continue.
  5. Don’t stop writing. It’s easy to step away for a few weeks and completely forget about your project. I’ve done that before too. Don’t do this. Keep it up! Take a break but don’t quit!

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My Writing Ritual + Short Story Excerpt

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I enjoy writing. Not just blog posts and book reviews, but I love writing short stories. I usually base many of my stories on events that have happened around me- something my grandmother said to me when I was twelve or the tragic murder of a young girl in the next town over. I tend to write what I like to read, which is mystery/thriller and real life fiction. Some people like getting lost in the fantasy of stories, I like getting lost in stories that are so realistic you forget that they are not about your own life. Recently, it has been difficult for me to find the time to sit down and write for leisure but when I do get the opportunity, I have a sort of “ritual” that I follow that allows me to REALLY focus on my writing! This is my writing ritual:

  1. Abandon All Distractions. I have given up on trying to write at work because [duh] it’s work and I’m always going to be distracted! I place my phone face down so that I’m not tempted to get sucked into the glorious pictures on Instagram and I let my boyfriend know that my earbuds will be in and not to disturb my creative flow.
  2. Find a Place That Gets My Creative Juices Flowing. I’m convinced that a good writing day is directly correlated to where I decide to write. One of my favorite places to write is in one of the study rooms at the public library. I’m surrounded by windows on the second floor of a tall building, they are always nice and cool and you can hear the faint humming of the A/C. It’s just so cozy AND sound proof. I also like to sit propped up in my bed by the window (bonus points if it’s a nice day and I get to actually open the window).
  3. Outline. Okay, I don’t always write out a full outline of my story before I begin but if I have a really great idea for a section of my story, I will first write out a brief outline in case I do get distracted! I also try to do a little character building, but most of my ideas come to me as I’m writing so-unfortunately- I don’t do a lot of planning.
  4. Don’t Fight My Stream of Consciousness. Like I mentioned above, a lot of my writing just kind of comes to me the moment I sit down and start thinking about my story. I try not to fight this. Most of the time it sounds insane when I re-read it, but sometimes it works really well!
  5. Edit As I Go. I have read MANY articles written by professional writers that say editing as you go can be disastrous. And I totally get it. You can end up spending way more time on one section than is necessary. I tend to change my mind a lot, so writing a chapter or a few paragraphs and then taking the time to look over it and make changes just works for me!
  6. Step Away. After I’ve finished a story I will step away from it for at least a day and then re-read it and do some more editing! It gives me a new outlook and a chance to read it without a scattered brain.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my writing ritual! To take a look at an excerpt from a short story I’ve been working on- click here 🙂

 

A Reader’s Manifesto

 

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I spent five years in college reading, researching, and writing history paper after paper after paper after paper after paper….you get the point. After college, I decided to take a job at our local public library because I thought it would be fun to work around books all day before I joined the “adult world”. When people asked me my favorite type of book, I would always reply “non-fiction history” (which looking back probably made me seem a little pretentious). I answered this way because I didn’t consider myself a “leisure reader”. But, looking back did I really enjoy staying up all night reading the biography of John Bell Hood?

Hell no.

Don’t get me wrong, I truly love history. But I confused my mandatory reading with reading for fun. The first book I read after college was Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. As soon as I finished it…I wanted to read as much as possible! “Is this what I have been missing?” I thought.

Fast forward.

After my first year working at the Emporia Public Library, I had manged to read a book from every genre we have available (fiction, non fiction, mystery, western, romance, inspiration, young adult, fantasy, science fiction, and graphic novels). I discovered what I liked to read and began making and keeping lists, writing reviews, and asking as many people for recommendations. By taking a job at the EPL, I opened my eyes to a wonderful world of books and exploration! I now know that I love a good mystery thriller, i’m a sucker for anything that will make me cry, and I often need to read shorter books between large novels so that I don’t get “burned out” ( I like to call these books ‘palate cleansers’).

I love seeing how different authors write and create. I love how a book can change your mood or your perception of something. I love that you are able to relate with other people because of the types of books you read or write. Reading has become such an important facet of my life. Reading is just FUN! Deciding to spend my life surrounded by books is one of the best decisions I’ve made yet!

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