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The Roughest Of Rough Drafts: Journaling As A Creative Outlet

Why should you set aside a minute or thirty to explore what your mind has to offer on paper? The mind is a wonderful thing, but it’s forgetful. It can also leave you completely lost when you’re in desperate need of a halfway decent idea for a Talon article. The conception of an idea is […]

Why should you set aside a minute or thirty to explore what your mind has to offer on paper? The mind is a wonderful thing, but it’s forgetful. It can also leave you completely lost when you’re in desperate need of a halfway decent idea for a Talon article.

The conception of an idea is often forgotten unless you save it in a jar for later. What better jar than a journal? The sentences can be running different directions or the bullet points can be lined up straight as an arrow. Words aren’t even a requirement, a sketch will do just fine. Every prompt and idea is up to the mind of the one who wields the pencil because the guidelines are interpretive and the rulebook is incredibly short — and the abstract “rules” are the best part about journaling.

Journaling is an informal method of writing (or drawing) that allows you to explore unfiltered ideas. It’s whatever you want it to be.

As Frankie Pinuela (‘20) puts it, “a journal can be helpful creatively, mentally, or logistically.” Some people use bullet journals for schedules and homework. Others write to remember all the wonderful books they’ve read or the incredible places they’ve traveled. These entries can also be raw  thoughts and feelings or just a note to your future self. In the case of creative writing, it’s a fantastic way to look for inspiration or just somewhere to start.

“It’s quite liberating to have something so informal” says Frankie, who is currently in Ms. Chrys Cassetta’s Creative Writing class. This class allows students to try their hand at everything from poetry to one act plays.

Every class starts with a journal prompt, often times a quote or a hypothetical question. These prompts open the door for students to express their creativity through whimsical poems and humorous short stories using a broad guideline, but leaving plenty of room for artistic interpretation.

Ms. Cassetta has taught Creative Writing at CB for around fifteen years. She has always used journals to give students the chance to explore the unrestricted limits of their creativity.

“Keeping kids writing is important” Ms. Cassetta states.

The French writer Albert Camus and his published collection of journals inspired Ms. Cassetta to include journaling as part of the Creative Writing curriculum. Camus was an incredibly talented author and journalist and his journals give a glimpse into the mind of his genius.

“He talked about the importance of journaling and how many times he would go back to his journal to get ideas for stories,” Ms. Cassetta says.

The inner thoughts of a writer are often as scattered and rough as everyone else’s, yet some turn the random genesis of an idea into an artistic masterpiece.

But starting a new habit and sticking with it isn’t always easy. If not for this opportunity to journal in Creative Writing, “we wouldn’t give ourselves the time to do it” says Jelly Ballesteros (‘20)

When it comes to journaling, it’s especially difficult sometimes to accept that some of the pages are going to be garbage. When you read those pages, you might cringe. But anything is better than the blank sheet of paper — the scariest thing to a writer. 

But a journal is the unpublished collection of ideas no one else has to see. These are the thoughts that sit on shelves, but they’re still within reach when you need them. They’re not all genius — some of them are only ridiculous. But you’ve got to start somewhere and that’s sometimes the hardest part of creative writing. 

Expand your capacity for creativity and give a journal a chance. Write anything down — you’ll be doing yourself a favor for when you need a good idea!

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