Capturing Words for Safekeeping

"If your journal consists of the best moments of your life and reading, then rereading it will be like walking a high mountain trail that goes from peak to peak without the intervening descent into the trough of routine. Just reading in such a journal of high points will tighten your strings and raise your pitch." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson kept what he called "commonplace books." These bound volumes recorded his ideas, observed images, turns of phrase, high points from his life and reading. He relished words and language and used his notebooks to capture everything for his future writing.

During childhood, I started writing in a blue diary that closed with a lock. Many secrets inked the pages, along with treasures pasted beside entries. Over the years, I have kept various notebooks. Because of my curiosity for change, black bound books moved aside for spiral notebooks. I tried hand-sized books to carry and exchanged them for covers of colorful design.

Often I can't decide just where to write my notions so they begin life when and where the ink falls. I record observations and eavesdrops, collect words or phrases from readings, feelings and frustrations. Charts and doodles fill pages. I write on and on then return to these pages to mine ideas and develop thoughts more fully.

Emerson prized the process and advised writers to try anything to keep it going with determination. He called it a "casting moment" when you see it and keep the writing in its original form, uncontaminated by later improvements.

I appreciate the process more than the product because of the feelings of freedom and exhilaration I gain pushing the pen.

Creative Write: Determine your best way to document what attracts you. Experiment with journals in a variety of sizes and shapes. Use colored pens to engage with words. Don't worry about results. Stay in your casting stage as long as possible.