Journals

Start your daily writing practice by finding a journal. I suggest a sturdy, standard-sized notebook that opens flat. Choose a journal you can carry with you. Carry it! Take it with you to the coffee shop on Saturday afternoon, to class on Monday, to work, on the bus, on the metro, on a plane. Carry it with you everywhere. Look around you; listen. Take notes. Record ideas. Pick up your pen instead of the newspaper. Get into the habit of writing at least one page a day.

Many chapters in this guide will have an invitation to visit your journal—"Journal Time." These journal exercises will give you the opportunity to explore your own ideas, experience, and attitudes. Often, journal exercises will ask you to write about a given subject or respond to a particular prompt. Some will cover one writing session and some will span consecutive writing days.

While you are free to use any medium to write, I like to suggest longhand journal writing. For one thing, it's easier to whip out a notebook and write the line you just overheard than to set up your laptop. Of course, those of you more technologically inclined may find your way around that hurdle. Beyond convenience, I've noticed a significant shift in my writing between longhand composition and composing on the computer. Often, I am more likely to pursue a difficult image or thought when I am writing longhand. My language, oddly, tends to be more embellished. Both observations suggest a freedom in writing longhand. I can sit longer with an idea when pen meets paper. My overly embellished language can always be refined when I transpose onto the computer. Experiment; discover whether your writing shifts when you are composing longhand.

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