Monday, March 30, 2009

Review: Creative Journal Writing

Review Copy Provided by:  Penguin

About the Book:  "The impulse to write is natural for many people. Yet the demands of more public forms of writing can be crushing. In the private spaces of your journal, a genuine sense of possibility is renewed with every blank page. The inner critic can be sacked. The possibilities of style, mood and expression are limitless."

This elegant, highly readable book is ideal for beginners to journal writing as well as those who want to renew or extend what this gentle art can offer. It includes stimulating ideas and exercises, easily-learned skills in observation, and an inspiring method to write freely and with great release and enjoyment.

My Review:  I will have to admit that I am a much better reader than I am a writer.  Reading has always been my love.  I have tried to keep a journal, but have never been very good at following through with it.  This book may be my turning point.

Stephanie Dowrick has put together a book that will help even the most reluctant journaler, like me.  She divides the book into 5 parts: Getting Started, Free to be Creative, Writing the Facts, Your Life in Your Journal, and Putting it all Together.  Throughout the book are excerpts from other journals, so that you can really see what it is she is talking about.  It's one thing to read about it, but another to see a real-life example.  Also scattered throughout the book are timely writing quotes.

At the very beginning of the book is a half page note from Stephanie titled, How to use this book.  I think it's pertinent to share with you.

"One of the essential ingredients of creative journal writing is freedom:  freedom from judgments, freedom to write as you wish and only about what interests you.  How you will use this book is, necessarily, entirely up to you.  But my humble suggestion is that you first read it through like a conventional book, stopping only if an exercise here or there grabs you by the ankle and pulls you to the ground.  Stop here.  If that doesn't happen, experience the ideas and the many wonderful stories as a whole, and only then go back to work your way through it far more personally, engaging with all the exercises that you want, at the pace you want, and in the way you want.
Pleasure is the other essential ingredient of journal writing .  So use this book in the way that will give you the most pleasure: reading, writing, pausing, setting aside, returning, all at a pace and in a rhythm entirely of your own making.

The way she suggests is exactly the way I approached this book.  I simply read for pleasure, taking in all the stories, key principles, suggestions, instructions, etc.  My goal now, is to go back, a little at a time, and take it all in as I put the suggestions, hints, and ideas into practice in my own journal.  Included with the review copy of this book was my very own Creative Writing Journal, but any journal you choose could be used.

My favorite part of this book were the 125 possible topics to write about.  Stephanie suggests instinctively choosing a number between 1 and 125 and just writing about it, whether you like it or not.  I will definitely be going to the list more than once as I embark on my journaling expedition.

Creative Journal Writing is a great way to get started with journaling, or a way to dig deeper into your journaling experience.  Whether or not you're a writer, I encourage you to give it a try.  You never know, you might like it!


Becca said...

This sounds like a great book! I really need to get back into my writing. I used to write all the time and the last few months I have just been so stressed out I have barely even thought about it except when I find a book to read about it or read someone else is writing. Thanks for the great review. I featured it on Marvelous Mondays.

Mrs. Magoo said...

You've definitely got me interested in this book! It sounds great.

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