How long have you been keeping a journal? How did you get started?

I've kept journals off and on for years. I've always had a book in which I wrote poems, scribbled, diarised, ranted and streamed. In a college class a journal was a requirement and from then (about 4 years?) I've kept one rather steadily. Being a poet I've always felt the need to express myself with written word and being visual, I've always decorated them. Being keen on coincidence and synchronicity has also helped to shape my need for expression.

Do you prefer the term "diary" or "journal" or something else? Why?

I prefer journal. I think I prefer it because diary sounds to me as a juvenile term. I dunno really!

How often do you write/draw?

I'm trying to hit daily with at least one WORD (hopefully more!!) in a daily calendar I bought. I'm hoping it to increase my own feelings of getting myself expressed and how much it means to me and how helpful it is and that I need to do it regularly!!

What does your journal mean to you?

I would collect them if a fire alarm went off. Right after I got my negatives and my poetry. I am rather like the woman in Fahrenheit 451º who stayed with her books I think!

Do you envision a future audience for your writing/art?

Ermmm not really, but I would love to share them.

What are your favorite writing techniques?

I like haiku- it can be simple, complex, one, many, deep, humourous- it's a great way to break a block without too much weight upon one's shoulders.

What are your favorite ways to add visual interest to your journal?

Pictures and stick figure scribbles. I like to decorate my words, caps, italics, adding in word art and the like. Colours too I like to add.

What inspires you to create?

Mostly anything really. I look at colours and feel inspired. I hear a song and feel inspired. Finish a book, the same. Look at the sky and so on.

Do you use music when you write or create? What types?

I like music constantly. Occasionally I like silence, mainly when I'm working (at work) so as not to interfere- I write manuals, so that can break my concentration. I'm one to dance in my seat see, and that causes problems. =) I'm pretty much hooked on middle eastern music, african music and reggae. World music, acid jazz, hip hop and flamenco/latin are among my favourites. From time to time though I revisit my high school years and listen to punk and goth. I have a wide variety of tastes really and the only things I don't like are country, pop music (99%) and opera sung in English.

What is your favorite pen to write with?

I'm a bit of a pen freak, so I like lots. I really like writing with a black ultra fine sharpie, but that's difficult because it bleeds through on most paper. That's the kind of tip I like best though. I really love my Mont Blanc fountain pen, it's sooooo smooth. I like pencil, but it blurs too easy. I don't like ball points with a rare exception of those cheap medium point clear ones with the blue caps. I like how I write with those. I also like the Pilot Varsity disposable fountain pens. I've found they bleed through on some papers, but I still like them. They come in a great purple!

What is your favorite type of notebook/paper to write in/on?

I hate lines and prefer a smooth somewhat creamy finish that doesn't ghost when erased. I'm quite picky about my paper see.

Has anyone ever read your journal without your permission? What, if anything, did you change about your approach to journal-keeping?

Once my mom did. It was quite controversial. ;) Now, at the beginning of one of my journals I write a disclaimer. I can't stop anyone from reading my journal but they have to understand that I'm not going to censor myself and I'm not responsible for how they feel regarding anything I've written. That's the bottom line.

If a future archaelogist were to unearth your notebook, what do you hope she or he would learn about you from it?

That I care too much.

How many finished journals do you have? Do you ever look through them?

From time to time. A few times I've found brilliant (my own sort of brilliance of course!) poems I had completely forgotten about and really don't remember writing. That's odd as I usually have a vivid record of my poems.

How many different types of journals do you keep?

Oh a few... A FEW. I have journals of poems, journals of record, journals of journals to plan, journals of vacations and am beginning a fiction journal!

What is the most unusual type of information that you track or monitor in your journal?

Er... at one time I kept info that really shouldn't be mentioned in mixed company. But.. I was young and foolish, in love and addicted. (not to anything illicit!!) I sometimes track my dreams which isn't really unusual per se, but I use them to write poems sometimes. Once in a dream I was raped. I wrote a poem about that and once when my aunts were reading a poem-book of mine I think one of them read the poem and I've always thought she might have thought it really happened. I had the page turned in for no one to read- simply because it wasn't my normal style and I wasn't comfortable with the new style yet, not the subject matter. However, I feel she might have misunderstood my attempt to hide it. For some reason, that has always made me wonder...

What is the primary focus of your journal? What do you get out of keeping one?

Blabbing about the little things I'll forget. I keep meaning to start a journal of memories, just random things that I recall over time, whether prompted by a smell, a memory, a thought, a picture, et cetera. Just date them as I recall them and try to figure out when it happened and if my memory is accurate.

How do you respond to people who scoff at the idea of diary-keeping - those who think the practice is silly or frivolous?

I've not had anyone react like that, but I'd be a bit annoyed I think. I'd try to keep a Buddhist calm about me, but I don't care for people who think themselves so important as to ridicule me or my actions. I might ask them why it threatened them so much that they had to ridicule it.

How often do you write? Under what conditions?

Every day I try to write a bit in the daily calendar. Making the books I'm making at work is helping to inspire me to write more (my smoke break productions). I started a theme of haiku's that I'd like to collect in a book and I'm hoping the inspired haiku's will inspire more poetry. I don't write like I used to, but my muse was woken from a deep slumber last year and I'm hoping she's ready to roll!

What are your favorite creative tools or products? How do you use them?

I'm going to take this two ways, physical tools and working tools. I like glue and tape because I like adding things. As long as I've got scraps of paper and a pen I can get by without the nice paper and fountain pen, but it really helps to have something to add things in that add to the entry. As for what gets me working, I like poetry exercises. I used to think of them as cheating, but now I see them like a quick sketch before the final painting. I'll write something with an exercise and then go on to do my final painting with it.

What is your favorite creativity book, or who is your favorite creativity author?

I actually don't have one. I have a book on making journals by Jason Thompson that has pictures of journal artists' work and it is REALLY inspiring.

Do you have any websites or other resources that you would like to recommend?

http://idp.bl.uk/IDP/bookbinding/chooser-frameset.html This site details Chinese books from the International Dunhuang Project. It's very inspiring for making your own journals. These sometimes look a little complex, but aren't really and some are very unique looking.

Do you ever share your journals with others?

Not on purpose really..

What is your favorite way to dissolve writer's block?

A haiku poem. They don't pressure you because you can always talk yourself out of that 5-7-5 syllable rule. I usually decide when I need to that it isn't a haiku anymore and voila! Block broken. =)

What advice would you give to those who are just starting to keep a journal?

Write to yourself or your journal directly. As you become more experienced you will learn to change the voice on your own, but to start with, it's easier to view it as writing directly to someone and to yourself is the best way to prevent self censorship. Don't feel like you have to be dramatic, funny or unique. With time, you will decide where and when to draw the lifelines of your journal. To start with, write everything you feel is worthy of expression and then write the stuff you don't think is. Write the stuff that doesn't matter, because one day you will look back at this and think, 'wow, this is so useless, but funny! I can't believe I wrote this!' and you'll enjoy that you wrote it down. Don't overwhelm yourself though, don't take on more than you can commit to. Above all, DO NOT treat this as work or homework. Of course you don't have to write everyday. On a day you don't feel like writing, just write that! Pushing it will only push you away. I sometimes write down that I have a headache and feel miserable and that's all. Of course, I look back on it and think, well good god, why do you feel miserable? What happened? But.. hey, I felt miserable that day so it couldn't have been worth it, right?? The key to successful journal writing I think, is to enjoy yourself and keep the pressure to a minimum.

Do you have a journal prompt or writing exercise that you would like to share with us?

This is an idea boiling in my head right now, but I haven't yet done it. I'm wanting to create an SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) persona. Briefly, the SCA is a group of people who enjoy history and like to act out how history *might* have occured. They pick a character, a persona, that might have existed before 1600 C.E and go to renaissance type faires and festivals and have a jolly good time. I want to create a very detailed persona and then write a journal from my persona's character. An alternative from someone not quite as loony as I =) might be to pick a time in history they enjoy, study it a little, pick out the details and then maybe make/write a journal based on that person. It's another way of getting a different perspective. It's helpful to think of the time frame, especially for women and certain ethnic societies (all across the globe even) and how it would impact one's life. It's also interesting to study these time frames simply because they blow away our perceptions- that in and of itself can make a great prompt!


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