But, about three months ago, I religiously started keeping a personal diary.
Although my diary is a place where I don’t have to worry about grammar, where I don’t have to censor myself and where my thoughts can go wild, it does have a certain formula. Following the teachings of author Kate Forsyth, I first start by trying to remember my dreams. I value them in the writing process. For example, my manuscript was inspired by a dream. This piece of my subconscious then became a chapter in my novel and the entire story was built around it. My dreams have also inspired some of my short stories.
Then, I write about my days, random thoughts, special things that are happening in my life. I finish with writing about a memory.
Since I have been writing in my diary, I‘ve been more attentive to what is happening around me. It has helped my inspiration to keep flowing. Ideas are everywhere and keeping a journal allows me to write them all down. You never know when you will need and use them.
I have listed my 5 reasons why writers should keep a personal diary.
1- A personal diary is a great way to start writing and re-enforce the habit of writing every day.
There’s no blank page syndrome with a personal diary, just writing about normal days and general thoughts.
2- A personal diary allows you to experiment with writing, stress free because no one other than you is reading.
For example, sitting in a cafe and observing what is happening, the sound of the coffee machines, describing the people, the smell of the cakes, the general feeling of the place. These types of exercises can help with the way the scenes are set in your story.
3- A personal diary allows analysing events and gives plot ideas.
I value the importance of keeping a record of life events in general. I find that when I put my thoughts into words and I can see them on paper, I can analyse and reflect much easier on ways to resolve issues and problems I face. Recording these personal events is also important because they can end up in some way or another into the creative writing.
4- A personal diary allows you to experiment by describing people, how they interact with each other and how they react towards certain situations.
Observing people gives ideas on creating characters and writing dialogues. It helps in writing believable characters that have a sense of truth and reality.
5- A personal diary allows analysing the news and use news stories into the creative writing.
For example, Suzanne Collins said she was inspired by a reality TV show and footage of the war in Iraq to write The Hunger Games Trilogy.
I also use my personal diary to analyse plot issues and character’s behaviour. I reflect on what will happen next in my novel, why and how.
It’s a strange thing but writing a personal diary has given me a sense of security, as if all these things that are happening in my life are recorded into words kept preciously and never to be lost.
Here’s an interesting article on the Creative Benefits of Keeping a Diary (Brain Pickings).
Do you write a personal diary? What benefits do you see in writing a personal diary?
Rita is a writer and blogger. She's a French Canadian woman with a Lebanese background now living in Melbourne. She speaks French and Arabic and is now learning Italian. She's a Canadian lawyer who also completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism at RMIT University. Now that she has reconnected with her love for creative writing, she is working on a fantasy series and thinks that this is one of the most amazing but also challenging things she has ever done.
Rita blogs at The Crafty Expat: http://thecraftyexpat.com