You can call it a journal, just don't treat it like one.
I enjoyed this Ramona, even if to some extent I disagree. Or I agree that you should but your best work up front, polished to perfection.
But at the same time, I'm interested with the idea of writing with the door open, or keeping an open workshop/laboratory (to use different metaphors).I've seen a few people do things like this here.
And I've set up a "First Draft" section to my stack for my word salads. It's mostly there to keep me accountable (if I know someone might be reading, I'm more likely to be writing and writing more cogent things). But at the same time I don't expect anyone to be interested and although I hit publish I don't punish anyone by sending it to anyone's inboxes!
It's just an experiment, but I'm curious about experimenting with blurring those lines in writing.
Natalie Goldberg! Many of my favorite writing practices come from her.
When I first started on Substack, I knew I wanted to write, but it had been awhile since I had written for public consumption, and in particular something that wasn't corporate in nature. So, given my daily expression was journal writing, I likely go the mix a bit wrong at the beginning. Mostly because I also didn't expect people to find me on here and read what I was writing. I was being shy. But, as I got rolling I realized I loved reading other people's Substack's and started to see and understand the different types of writing that was attracting me as a reader. And, I agree with you, it wasn't the journal type stuff, however, I do love personal essays.
Also, thanks for the tip about keeping the other side of the page blank in your journals and keeping it loose. I tend to fill every nook, cranny and line with writing. I've only just recently given myself permission to be more creative with my 'space' in the journal. This was a great post.
Overall, I agree, but it can get blurry. I've been journaling for a decade or more, but consistently, daily, only for a couple of years. One blurry area is that some of my early posts grew out of journal entries. Another is that, channeling Joan Didion, I write to find out what I'm thinking. That used to be in my journal. Then I started writing out mini personal essays in other writers' comments sections (sorry, not sorry, Amanda Hinton!) and slowly started putting that more personal stuff into my posts. That's absorbing all my "journal energy" at the moment. I appreciate the nudge to put things back where they belong!
I stopped keeping a regular journal some years ago, partly because of hand surgery but also because after several decades I felt it took too much time way from my writing and I found therapy more useful. :-)
However, I have religiously kept a voice journal: comments, notes, questions, quotes from every voice lesson I've taken since 2015 with a huge gap during the pandemic. Since I record the lessons, it helps me to have some written commentary/analysis as well. And I'm hoping to write a full memoir based on the journals.
Even a short entry records how I felt in the lesson, anything critical I was taught, and then sometimes points out a place in the recorded lesson I need to go back to, either because I need work on something or I need to enjoy a breakthrough or whatever.
Chapter One has been published: "Finding My Voice at Sixty" https://www.levraphael.com/healthyaging-levraphael.pdf
I've written a personal journal for about 20 years - the ideas may have come Natalie, I don't remember. But that is very different than the articles I write - which as you say are polished and edited. An idea in the journal may become an article, but they are two different entities for me.
Great thoughts here Ramona. I agree. Except, if you ARE a famous person, go ahead and write those journal type posts. I’ll read every bit of it. 😂
I don't enjoy reading posts that are simply a (boring) reflection of every day, day in and day out, so I would agree with this. As you said in the comments personal essay is great if it tells a story and a journal entry can be an excellent starting point for something more robust.
I'm on the side of "boring." I agree that someone else's journal thoughts are mostly not for me. I want to be taken on a journey when I read a piece of writing. It doesn't mean it has to be a traveling journey but it does have to be a quality journey.
Like Natalie Goldberg, I too like cheap spiral bound notebooks. They are lighter to carry around than a fancy hardback note book.
This is so good, mostly because it's a reminder that while our blog/newsletter/etc. doesn't have to be perfect, it still should be well thought out and revised. It is not a brain dump for our ideas or reflections or rants. Yes, it is a writing workshop, of sorts, because we are learning and evolving as writers, but we should also have a private space where we can just put the ideas before we subject them to the world. Thank you for the reminder, Ramona!
Drat1 That’s precisely what I’ve done. A heavily curated journal, but a journal none the less. Blogging has since moved to Facebook, but now that I’m taking Substack seriously...I have much to consider.
I've never kept a journal, but if I did, I'm sure I'd use it as the raw material that Ramona suggests.
Some bloggers do indeed use their platform as a journal, but like you said, it's essential to strike a balance between personal reflection and providing valuable content to readers. But ultimately, it's up to each writer to find their own approach that best suits their goals and preferences. Journaling and blogging can coexist, and the key is understanding when and how to use each to benefit your creative process and connect with your readers.
Man, I appreciate writers who don't want to waste my time!