…for the most part, I rarely look at the journals I have kept for the greater part of a lifetime. The act of writing is itself enough; it serves to clarify my thoughts and feelings. The act of writing is an integral part of my mental life; ideas emerge, are shaped, in the act of writing.
Well, that quote struck a chord, I often find myself surprised at how a blog post ends up talking about something, a point, I’d not thought of when I started. Thinking my thoughts onto ‘paper’ really does help draw out ideas I’d not thought of before! In this process, I concern myself about ‘rambling’, shifting this way and that as I’m thinking through something. Perhaps that’s a speech habit too! Sometimes rambling is just fine however at other times, and especially if I’m trying to ‘make a point’ the whole piece becomes stilted. Words do not flow on reading them back.
Sacks was an avid journal writer. He always had paper and pen with him and would stop and write whenever a thought worth noting came to him. There are photographs of him doing just this, outside a train station, resting paper on top of his stationary car. He even had paper beside him at the swimming pool, apparently! This is what he is quoted as saying about his journalling…
My journals are not written for others, nor do I usually look at them myself, but they are a special, indispensable form of talking to myself.
I find it quite absorbing to look into a writer’s ‘process’ such as Sacks and others. It’s an intimate look, through the window of their words, into their minds. Not spying, more appreciating their allowing themselves to be so vulnerable. Writing a journal is a kind of waystation; a silent talking to oneself.