- Mar 2023
- Jan 2023
A few months ago, during an insomnia-inducing crisis of confidence about where the hell I should be going next with my writing, I suddenly remembered my journal. I hadn’t written in it for a while. Although it was 1:30 in the morning, I got out of bed, went into my study, opened up my journal, and simply began to write. I wrote about being unable to write, the things I thought were preventing me from writing, and what I thought I should do about it. The simple act of writing these thoughts down meant that I no longer felt the need to rehearse them over and over in my head, so I could return to bed and sleep the sleep of the effortlessly talented. When I woke next morning, my crisis of confidence had reduced to a mild concern. My late-night journal session had put things in perspective. It had shown me a way forward.
Example of someone getting the crap and worries out so that their writing can begin apace. Its sort of like writers' therapy and closely akin to those who talk about morning pages.
Also similar to teachers of young children who encourage their students to get their "wiggles out" so that they can focus on the classwork at hand.
At around this point, as is my habit when trying to work out where I’ve got to, and to devise a basic outline, I took out my trusty Leuchtturm1917 notebook and scrawled out a rough mind-map of my potential chapter:
To test out some potential ideas and flow of a particular chapter for which he already had a corpus of notes, Richard Carter created a mindmap outline of some of his ideas. This in combination with testing out further ideas in his writing journal "three weeks later" caused him to make some significant changes in the structure of his chapter.
Among other things, I have traditionally used my Journal to think out loud to myself about my work in hand: the progress I’m making, the problems I’m encountering, and so on. Many of my best ideas have arisen by writing to myself like this.
Richard Carter uses his writing journal practice to "think out loud" to himself. Often, laying out extended arguments helps people to refine and reshape their thinking as they're better able to see potential holes or missing pieces of arguments. It's the same sort of mechanism which is at work in rubber duck debugging of computer code: by explaining a process one is more easily able to see the missing pieces, errors, or problems with the process at hand.
Carter's separate note taking and writing journal practice being used as a thought space or writing workshop of sorts is very similar to the process seen in my preliminary studies of Henry David Thoreau's work in which he kept commonplace books and separate (writing) journals which show evidence of his trying ideas on for size and working them before committing them to his published works.
- writing journals
- writing process
- thinking out loud
- thought spaces
- Richard Carter
- trying on ideas
- rubber duck debugging
- zettelkasten output
- Henry David Thoreau