Friday, February 10, 2012

5 Reasons to Look Back at Old Writing Journals

I just got to the last page of another one of my writing notebooks - that makes 22 of them now.

I've been writing ideas, collecting bits of advice and inspiration, and working out story events and happenings for many years - some years only have 1 or part of a notebook/journal, others have more than one. Sometimes when I read some great writing tips or a new perspective on a writing-related topic, I copy it and paste it in my notebook (with source info). In the past year, I've gone through probably 3 notebooks. I do read over some parts of them, while they are still current, but once they are full and up on my shelf, I don't go back to them very often. But I do think it's useful to look at them sometimes.

Some reasons to look back:

1) Some story ideas seem to resurface again and again, in slightly different ways. Usually when that happens, I know I need to write that story.

2) I like to see how far I've come and how my skill has developed.

3) All the tips and advice that I've collected are like a "mini" writing course.

4) Re-reading the inspirational bits and pieces is a great boost since they seem fresh and interesting again.

5) When I'm stuck or not sure about what direction to take in my writing, looking through my old notebooks reminds me of all the great ideas I had, and often gets me thinking of more.

Do you ever revisit your old notebooks or journals?

9 comments:

  1. I love all five of these reasons. Yet I find I don't reread my journals. I think it goes along with my not really wanting to relive any part of my life, either. I mean, for the most part it's been great, but I just have no desire to go back to anything.

    What I'm much more apt to revisit is my idea file.

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    1. When I started my new notebook this time, I went through the old one and marked all the places I'd labeled Idea; then wrote a few of the good ones at the beginning of the journal - in the hopes they would grow.

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  2. My old journals scare me. So much angst! But it's been years since I've kept one. Yours sound fantastic.

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  3. Some reasons to look back:

    1) Some story ideas seem to resurface again and again, in slightly different ways. Usually when that happens, I know I need to write that story.

    No 1.is yes!

    This is where I'm at right now.

    I don't care to relive certain things anymore, but sometimes, I feel you just have to go back, if there's really a lot of material. After all, it took years to write.

    Sometimes I create poetry, or flash fiction from my bits and pieces.

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    1. Oh, I love the idea of poetry based on some of my old scribbles. And it's true, it did take years to write these things, so it's nice to use them again.

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  4. I like going back to reread journal entries. Mostly because it's fun to see how my ideas evolve. For example, the original premise of my recently complete MG was *completely* different than it's final version. I realized, though, that idea was really another character's story - so I'll still be able to use it when I get around to writing the companion book.

    A while back I also started keeping a special journal just for writing tips, advice or inspiration I come across. I also take that journal with me to conferences and workshops so it's sort of my own personal "how to" book.

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    1. Car, that sounds like my writing journal split into two. Your way is much more sensible! It is cool to see how story ideas morph.

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  5. I do occasionally do this and make a separate note of any good ideas/phrases I had meant to use but never did. The good stuff always stands out if you leave it long enough.

    mood

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    1. I draw boxes around the good idea or phrase or whatever in my old journal, so I can find it again it. But making a separate note is way easier!

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