I journal. Or if you prefer, I keep a journal.
I’ve kept journals on an ongoing basis for a good part of my adult life. (Boxes of notebooks packed away waiting for my kids to read after my demise. Pity them.)
I’ve often said that as an author/writer I feel it’s crucial that I journal. But then I always add that I would journal even if I were not an author.
I don’t believe there is anything in my life that is more cathartic than writing out my feelings. Or you could say, spilling my guts. Ann Frank (Diary of Anne Frank) called it “unbosoming.” One must appreciate a young teenage girl who could express journaling so succinctly.
I not only journal, but I’ve even taught community education classes on the subject of journaling.
Feelings in the Novel
In my previous blog post, Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings Part I, I touched on the necessity of weaving feelings into your character with the purpose of causing the reader to care.
In that post I stated:
Events cannot stand alone no matter how exciting you believe those events to be. The events must be lived through a character who reacts to them.
I further stated:
I’ve seen way too many dead stories where feelings (emotions) are either thin or non-existent.
Out of Touch With Feelings
Lack of feelings in a novel, could possibly be a by-product of a novelist out of touch with his or her own feelings. After all, one cannot give what one does not have.
What might be a root cause of a being out of touch with deep inner feelings? Any number of things. We are wounded by people, events and circumstances. It hurts. We don’t like the pain. So we stuff down feelings to numb the pain.
So now if you are the aspiring novelist who has spent a lifetime tamping down feelings, how will you ever create realistic feelings in your characters?
Two things may transpire.
- You could struggle for years producing weak plots and never know why.
- You could actually meet yourself in the emotions of your character and begin your own journey of coming face-to-face with those submerged emotions in a healthy way.
(I guess I could add a third here – you might start keeping a personal journal and begin your own self-analysis process.)
Find Out Who You Are
Author, David Morrell (of Rambo fame) was mentored in his younger years by another author, Philip Klass. Morrell remembers Klass telling him:
Look inside yourself. Find out who you are. In your case, I suspect that means find out what you’re most afraid of, and that will be your subject for your life or until your fear changes.
Find out who you are. Whoa! That, my friends, is a powerful statement. It is classic advice for every novelist.
Avoid Dumping Feelings on the Reader
But then we must quickly add that if the only purpose of the novel is so the novelist can dump feelings, the work will suffer.
Author and writing teacher, Leonard Bishop, puts it this way:
The reader is not interested in the writer’s subjective vomitive revelations when they offer no contribution to the story or novel.
That’s why I am sold on the journaling process. It ensures (as much as is humanly possible) that my subjective vomitive revelations are in my journals; not in my novels.
Now I’m back to my main theme: Feelings, Nothing more than feelings. That’s pretty much what novels are all about – from conception, through the development, to the eye, heart, and mind of the reader.
Did you really think it was anything else?
For an in-depth study on the process and the innumerable benefits of journaling, the Be A Novelist Writer’s Workshop #2 will be a great help. This workshop removes all the road blocks that have previously prevented you from keeping a journal. Check it out here.
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