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Journaling for Creativity.

Types of entry: Recording things

This post forms part of a serialisation eventually building into a complete reference on Journaling for Creativity and the writer's notebook. One that will demonstrate how to journal in order to improve creativity and effectiveness of artists, writers or anyone needing to be creative.

Introduction Contents Types of Entry Recording things.


“You should get yourselves a notebook or a journal and keep it with you to record things that you find interesting.”

We have all heard these words. These, or similar, have been the introduction to the writer’s notebook or writer’s journal for creative writing students since there have been creative writing teachers.

Journaling for Creativity: Types of entry: Recording things Similarly, previous posts have made simple catch-all statements about needing to record things and events in your journal so that they may provide nourishment for later work, but what to record and how much to record?

The answer is relatively straightforward; record as much as you can.

However, since you won't be able to record all of it, make sure you catch the most emotive, descriptive and striking observations.

This is because the most emotive, descriptive and striking observations will later bring the strongest recollections back into your mind.

David Reich sums this up when he says,

"Compulsively taking down any image that might possibly help me tell a story – landscapes, architecture, home and office decor, elevator music, cooking smells, odd bits of apparel, regional pronunciations, facial tics and blemishes… I try to take it all down and weed out what I don't need later."

David Reich, “The Writers Journal”.
Edited by Shiela Bender

When David says "any image", he was referring to noting down his images in a notebook journal; he then informs the reader that later in the day he would turn those notes into a description. Fortunately for us we can now also capture the moment in pictures, sound, video, dictated thought and material items, which can all assist with a later enhancement of that moment by pen on a page.

But even the most sophisticated recording technology is no replacement for a keen mind fully aware of its surroundings, one that is actively using all its available senses. This is because;

  • There are no means of grasping aromas, of putting them between your pages. True, you may collect a sample of something that emits an aroma but it is not the aroma itself that you have collected.
  • There are no means of collecting the past; old events apparent by what is and what is not present.
  • There are also no means of collecting the future; new events apparent from the expected consequences before you.

To record these things, a mind full of awareness, a pen and a journal are the tools required. For these, descriptions, similes, metaphors, emotions and clear prose are necessary to capture them properly.

In the next few posts we will continue looking at the things you might record, covering the following in more detail;

Observations vs. Descriptions

Everyday things


Snippets of dialogue

Emotions and thoughts

Questions (Available from 18th Aug)



Photo credit: Madagascar: Child and Teacher, by Global Partnership for education.

"Types of entry: Recording things" by Andy Shackcloth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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