Do you spend ages mulling over words and sentences, in fear that they're not 'right' or that you can do better? Do you ever get frustrated with your work because it sounded better in your head?
Sometimes expressing how you truly feel can be a scary notion. Especially when you’re a writer. Writing is painting with words, and you just want to capture your scene perfectly. After all, creativity and imagination run through our veins freely and so should the ink to the paper. But how can we overcome this fear of not wanting to write ‘badly’? The truth is you probably aren’t. It’s just not working out the way you thought it would. That sentence isn’t the way you wanted it to sound. Turns out, the word you wracked your brain about last night was not the right way to capture how you were feeling.
One way to overcome this fear is to start a journal. This is your very own private confidant that will not judge you, allowing you to open up in a way that a blank piece of A4 or a Word document that others can read couldn’t.
The first time I kept a journal was when I travelled around Europe for two months. I'd been thinking of doing this for a while, and my trip seemed like a perfect time to start.
The reason I put off starting a journal for so long was, you guessed it, what if I wrote badly? We writers can be very critical, even when writing only for ourselves! Nonetheless, I wanted to preserve these memories of my trip, so I bought myself an empty binder book and a brand new pen (we all know how important that is). Every day, I jotted something down that I found interesting. This could have been anything! A peculiar interaction I had with someone, or just how my day went. Yes, this might sound a bit mundane compared to what is usually in my head: characters slaying dragons; a young prince delicately playing a piano that is spilling out water... the usual.
This gave me a new sense of digging deeper and expressing how I really felt. It not only helped me to find my own voice and tone in my writing, but in my everyday life.
In a journal, you’re free to make mistakes, cross things out, and cover the pages with arrows to rearrange your paragraphs. No one will judge you, and you can practice being a kind editor to yourself - one that lets you write freely before they get out their editor pen. I’ll be honest, when I look back at the criss-cross changes I made in that journal (it looks far from perfect), I personally find them endearing. After all, these show you your creative process of the writer.
It may seem daunting at first: another blank piece of paper asking you, where do you begin? But once the flood gates open, you will find there is this new sense of freedom. Not questioning whether you’re writing badly, because how can you be if you’re telling your truth? That's all that matters. That is the beauty of journaling: you’re only writing for yourself. With time, it will only make you a braver writer.
Eliz Bilal is the Lead Mentor at Creative Write-it. You can read more about her and her writing here.
Where young writers (and some older ones) write.