I’ve been a huge fan of morning writing for as long as I have worked on fiction. Some of my best stories emerge when I wake up and head straight to my laptop or notebook.
Over the years, I’ve maintained a journal of my writing—sporadic, but brutally honest. This is a record of my writing struggles, which are many, no matter how much I remind myself of the immense privilege of being able to write without worrying about putting food on the table, or the fact that I’ve been published.
The journal is a window into what writing has been like for me, and there’s a ton of advice to myself. Advice, mainly, on not giving up in the face of rejection. I no longer need to write about that, thankfully. Rejection still hurts, but I get up and go again almost immediately. Writer’s envy used to be an issue–I used to feel sad about others getting deals and offers and awards I did not, but that seems to have dissolved almost entirely as well. I know now that the writing journey is unpredictable, that all we can do is our best, and that someone else’s success is good news–it means people are still reading.
What my journal entries tell me though is I still have a difficult time with patience. Traditional publishing requires it in spades. Some of the stories I wrote in scattered drafts over the last decade got published this year.
I have a story coming out with Ambit–a journal that’s far older than me, and has published giants like Carol Ann Duffy, William Burroughs, J.G. Ballard, and Deborah Levy, among others. I wrote the very first draft of that story in 2016. It reached its final draft in 2018. It was accepted two months ago. It will be published this week.
Self-publishing is not an answer for me, because I do not write clear-cut genre short stories or even novels. All of my work hovers at the border of literary and crime, and I do not write series (haven’t written one yet, but hopefully, some day.) Work like mine will see crickets when self-published, so I need to stay patient.
I must continue to write pages after pages in my journal, on how to keep writing, that rejections won’t be any faster than they are in trad pub any time soon, and that it will all be painfully, dreadfully slow. Which reminds me, I haven’t scribbled in the journal over the weekend, or today, so maybe I’ll be at it before I hit the sack.
What about you? Do you journal at all? Have you ever written an account of your writing process? How has it helped or hindered you?
My debut literary crime novel,”You Beneath Your Skin,” published by the fab team at Simon and Schuster IN is optioned to be a TV series by Endemol Shine.
It is available in India here.
Reviews are appreciated–please get in touch if you’d like a review copy.
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I loved it… very well written… keep it up… I’ve followed you..I hope to see some more amazing stuff by you.. 😊 Please checkout my blog too… I hope you’ll have a good time reading them… lots of love.. 😊
I like the idea of writing in the morning. Maybe i should try that too. I love journaling but really havent written anything in over a year. Congratz on getting published again. You are a star writer 😊
I suppose my blog is where I record thoughts on my writing journey–though not all of them. I can’t bombard my followers with one more rejection sucks post–ha! But patience is certainly key. If things weren’t moving at a snail pace in publishing before COVID-19, they certainly are now. Sometimes I wonder if my Submittable queue is actually broken–and if I’m one of the only editors out there still reading in a semi-timely manner. Of course, novel publishing is slower still. Here’s hoping I can experience that some day! I too have no desire to go the self-publishing route and I do feel that impatience is a big reason for so much of that market.
Hi Damyanti – journaling has never been for me … but then writing wasn’t for me either. When I was abroad in South Africa I used to write long letters home with my news of where I’d been etc … thankfully I kept copies of some of them … my Ma sadly had a throw out period towards the end of her life … her choice, her decision – one can’t grieve over some else’s actions. I love writing now – and am happy to do more of it – though writing stories hasn’t arrived in the brain yet! Take care and all the best – love your header! Hilary
I love journalling, Damyanti. I have been writing about my writing process off and on but mostly it is about life and hence very personal. I find it very helpful on the whole.
I’m off and on with journaling, but I’ve never written about my writing in a journal. Interesting idea.
What do you usually journal about?
I used to journal a lot, not as much. It’s more sporadic for me these days. Though I believe it is a great idea to keep journaling consistently.
Being consistent has indeed helped me over the years. Thanks for dropping by!
“The journal is a window into what writing has been like for me, and there’s a ton of advice to myself. ” that sentence really hit home for me. Thank you, and congratulations on your new publication.
I dont have a writing journal – I keep a Gratitude diary and thats the only bit that I can manage. I think I would be depressed rather than motivated if I kept a writing journal like yours D. Hats off to you for not giving into that 🙂
A gratitude diary is a great way to stay positive and motivated.
I do write in my journal about everything, most of which is about how I am not able to write. But I won’t call it a writing journal because I have never thought of it as a writing journal. My journaling is mostly about how I am feeling and how to pull myself up and writing holds a valuable presence in all that.
Journaling is personal after all Vinitha. As long as it helps you with your writing or with other stuff in life, it is all good.
I don’t keep any journal – I think I need to though.
It does help vent, organise thoughts and make plans. If you do take it up, I’d love to know how it helps you.
I do morning pages as well, Damyanti, but I can never seem to get up early enough to get all my pages plus whatever I’m working on in before I start work at 7:30a, so I do more of it on weekends than weekdays lately.
Journaling is supposed to help you and not make you stress about getting it done on time. So, don’t worry about the timing or schedule of it Pam.
I don’t journal and have been thinking for some time that I should.
Thanks for the nudge.
When you do take up journaling, I would love to know how it works out for you.
Yes I absolutely agree. I’ve been journaling nearly daily this year but I don’t always stick to the morning journal pattern. Mine is usually the last thing I do before I hit the bed🙂
Whichever time works the best for you is the right time to journal! Thanks for dropping by.
Hi Damyanti….I have to be quite honest in that I don’t journal persay. Being a poet it probably would be a good thing to do. However, if I am working on a piece, it has an element of journaling in that I go back to them. Sometimes a piece will come right away, and that it can be like a journal entry of where I am at pertainlng to my mood for that particular moment. Poetry doesn’t have to be deep on every occasion. There you have it. Good post!
Congratulations on the story!
I’ve kept travel journals but not ones about my writing.
Thank you Alex! I bet the travel journals are fun to go back to from time to time.
Thank you for sharing!.. yes, I try to keep a journey of sorts, similar a diary I suspect… I also manage to keep some of my posts as I always edit using Publisher and then post to WordPress.. 🙂
Hope all is well in your part of the universe and until we meet again..
May flowers always line your path
and sunshine light your way,
May songbirds serenade your
every step along the way,
May a rainbow run beside you
in a sky that’s always blue,
And may happiness fill your heart
each day your whole life through.
Is it an offline or online diary? Thank you for dropping by.
Your writing journey and whatever else you say about writing Damyanti is so so honest. It helps us to not give up maybe. I don’t maintain a writing journal but I guess having one will make me feel less lonely in this journey.
Thank you for the kind words, Sonia. If you do decide to take up journaling in the future, I would love to know how it works out for you.
I have a diary in which I pour all my thoughts, my frustrations and sorrow when things don’t work out. And, I have a journal in which I write drafts of personal essays and flash fiction as and when I come up with an idea. And, usually, from there, my writing finds its way into my blog. I don’t write in the journal everyday. But, when I write, I go on and on! ;P
Using separate journals for separate use is a great idea. I bet having a separate journal for writing bits helps you stay focused
I used to write till my college days. They were so frank that I had to throw them out before leaving that house 😊. Best wishes on your crime novel. Seems interesting 👍
I am curious about why you discontinued it. And, thanks for the wishes!
A thought-provoking question, Damyanti. I do keep a long list of blog post ideas for my blog but when it comes to a post I need to write on movies I watched, I realize that I often have to go back to recall the key takeaway message of it. And then, I thought it would be a good idea to jot them down separately as I watch them, so that I could write a substantial post later.
Journaling is really personal to everyone. What works for one may not necessarily work for another. I am glad to hear that you have your own use for it. Thanks for dropping by.