Journaling for Authors

Traditionally, keeping a journal was thought of as a very personal, private process. Teenage fiction is filled with the inevitable ‘kid brother stole my diary’ scene, or ‘mom read my diary?? I hate her forever and ever!’ The idea is that you write things for nobody else to read.

Wait, what?

I never kept any kind of journal as a kid (not that anybody expected me to, but this is leading somewhere), but I did write a lot of fiction, most of it bad, some of it mediocre. When LiveJournal started I jumped on the bandwagon and started writing there, before the word ‘blog’ became officially part of the language.

And I found that there is a certain catharsis to journaling, recording and exploring one’s thoughts and ideas on ‘paper’. And yet, the thought of writing things that nobody would ever read did not compute. So, all my entries have always been public to at least one other person, thanks to LJ’s friend groups.

To be perfectly honest, I know what kind of traffic this site gets, so I’m not expecting the whole world to read this – but potentially, the whole world can. And that seems to make a difference.

But I did fall out of the habit for a while, limiting my posts to notes relating to my writing, or movie reviews, or memes and cultural reactions. I found that I missed old-school journaling, and that perhaps the process would once again help me cope with the drudgery of life.

You all probably know me as a happy person. When I’m not happy peppy, people notice. (Happy peppy people… oh my word, I just had a Vitameatavegamin flashback!) That’s when they start saying I look ‘tired’ when in reality I’m miserable. But I don’t consider myself a miserable person; against all odds, even knowing as much as I know, I’m an optimist. I know how fortunate I am in a lot of ways, I rather like myself, and I trust myself to survive almost anything. So my depression is not an existential malaise; rather it stews and bubbles to the surface in situations when I feel trapped, like an extension of my claustrophobia.

This feeling of being trapped triggers my anxiety, which causes tremendous stress as I try to make it through the rest of the day without freaking out. When I get home I am a nervous wreck, or at the most, too tired to attempt anything else, like writing, which is one of the things that keep me sane.

And it’s not like I have reasons to feel this way. My job situation has vastly improved within the past two years, I enjoy the people I work with, and after surviving the past three jobs I had, this is a cakewalk. So it’s frustrating trying to deal with something that has no immediate, obvious cause.

Medication has done the bare minimum for me, but that was enough of an improvement to keep me on it. The thought that most often clouds my mind is that I need more time and more energy; if I had that, I could get a lot more things done that make me happy. Like finish my novel, take up the violin again, paint and sculpt more.

What I need is a time machine.

Hey… now there could be a story there!

I’d like some feedback on this one. Do you keep a private journal? If so, why? What do you get out of it? I’m honestly curious.

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