Jill Weatherholt

Writing Stories of Love, Faith and Happy Endings While Enjoying the Journey

Dear Diary

48 Comments

IMG_0647 (2)“The habit of writing for my eye is good practice. It loosens the ligaments.” ~ Virginia Woolf

My first diary was a small pink book with a picture of Cinderella on the front. It came with a tiny key for privacy. Although I didn’t have any deep dark secrets at the age of 11, I kept it hidden under my bed. As I got older, I exchanged my pink diary for a journal.

Despite being inconsistent with writing in my journals, I’ve always had one. Actually, I have more than one journal. Like my paper book collection, I hoard journals. I have journals in all different sizes and colors all over my house.

When I read old journal entries, I travel back in time. I relive the good and not so good times. I read about people who are no longer in my life, but hold a permanent place in the pages of my journals. I find comfort in reading the experiences that made me the person I am today.

Recently I decided to start an ideas journal. For years, I’ve scribbled story ideas, titles, settings and character names on post-it notes or scrap pieces of paper. These ideas were tucked away in drawers or buried at the bottom of my purse. When I stumbled across a crinkled piece of paper, I would think, that was good, why haven’t I developed that idea.

Now all of my story ideas are organized in one place. I’ve also been using it to record ideas for blog posts. After reading fellow blogger, Luanne’s post on Freewriting, I’ve decided to use my idea journal to give freewriting a try. I love the idea of writing about anything for a set period of time as a prewriting technique. If I enjoy it, I might start a designated journal for freewriting. That will give me an excuse to go shopping for a new journal.

Do you journal or free write?

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Author: Jill Weatherholt

My name is Jill Weatherholt and I’m a writer. I have a full-time job, but at night and on the weekend, I pursue my passion, writing. I write modern stories about love, friendship and forgiveness. I started this blog as a way to share my journey toward publication and to create a community for other new writers. Raised in the Washington, DC area, I’ve lived in Charlotte, North Carolina since 2004. I hold a degree in Psychology from George Mason University and a Certification in Paralegal Studies from Duke University. My first book, SECOND CHANCE ROMANCE, published by Harlequin Love Inspired released on February 21, 2017 and is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com. I was the first place winner in the Dream Quest One Short Story Contest in the Winter 2014-2015 competition. In 2014, I placed second in Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest. I was also a top ten finalist in Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest in 2012 and 2013. I’m a 2010 and 2012 winner of the NaNoWriMo Contest. I love to connect readers, visit me at jillweatherholt.com

48 thoughts on “Dear Diary

  1. I’ve never been a big journal writer, but one of my prized possessions is a stack of letters I wrote to my family the summer I was an exchange student in the former Yugoslavia. My parents saved every letter wrote (and I wrote almost every day for 3 months), and reading those letters brings back feelings of being 17 again.

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  2. These area all great ideas. I’ve never been one who kept a journal, but I do carry an ideas notebook around in my purse. It’s tatty and dogeared and the pages are starting to fall out, but I love thumbing through it to reread old ideas. Plus it comes in handy if an idea strikes while I’m sitting in traffic.

    I’ve done free writing with my 5th graders. We’d start every writing period with a 7-minute “quick write.” I’d read a prompt from a book I purchased at the teacher’s store, and then set a timer for 7 minutes, during which time the kids could write whatever came to mind in response to the prompt. Students would then choose one volunteer from each table to share their piece with the class. The whole exercise took around 10 minutes. In the beginning the kids grumbled about doing it, but after a few weeks every class I had embraced this activity, because they found it stimulated their creativity. Some even went on to develop stories from the prompts. If there was ever a day we were short on time, I’d forgo the quick write activity and get right to the day’s lesson, despite the protests from the class. Just goes to show that writing does indeed beget writing.

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    • I can only imagine all of grumbles in your class. Gwen. That’s great that they later embraced the exercise. I love using writing prompts, they can take you anywhere.

      It sounds like you might be in need of a new ideas notebook. I should mail you one of mine, I’ve got quite the collection. I go crazy in Staples or Office Depot. 🙂

      Enjoy your weekend!

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  3. Happy Friday, Jill! What a great “idea” to have an idea journal! The light bulb lit up in my brain from this idea. 🙂 I’m always looking for those post it notes with ideas I jot down too.

    I always had a diary and I would write every single night. My sister and I shared a room and she would watch me writing feverishly and try to figure out where I would hide the diary. 🙂 Glad you are enjoying the freewriting! Will we see some of that?

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    • Happy Friday to you, Maria! Hopefully you’ll be resting up this weekend after your month long birthday celebrations. 🙂

      LOL! After struggling to find where I scribbled down ideas, I thought why not use one of my stockpiled journals. Like puzzles and purses, I love buying journals.

      Oh, I can only imagine your diary as a teenager, Maria! Hot-Hot-Hot! 🙂 Did you keep it?

      I’m just getting started with the free writing, but I let you know if I get brave enough to share. 🙂 I loved your post today! Have a fantastic weekend!

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  4. Hi Jill,
    Glad to see you have added another journal to your collection. As you already know, I am rather addicted to journals and I write in them more consistently than in my yearly diary which I start with great enthusiasm but it always ends up as little more than a list of appointments by the middle of the year. My writing inspiration journal has a mixture of (hopefully) original ideas that suddenly came into my head and snippets of conversations, lines of poetry, personal descriptions of places I visit, striking newspaper headlines etc. anything, in fact, that might build on the bones of the bare ideas.

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    • I know you like your journals too, Lynne. I wonder if you buy them compulsively like I do. 🙂 It sounds as though your writing inspiration journal contains a little bit of everything. I like the idea of writing down the striking newspaper headlines.

      A few years ago, I started keeping a book journal after I found myself purchasing books I’d read previously. I’ll write a brief summary on the story and whether it’s the first time reading that author or genre. The book journal also helps me keep track of how many books I’ve read each year.

      Have a great weekend, Lynne!

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  5. Gosh Jill, you are organised – I’ve just read Roy’s post and he seems to be getting down to some serious organisation, too! I always kept a journal, right up until I had my son and then things got in the way of recording anything! I have holiday diaries though which I have had at the back of my mind to revisit at some stage for a future post or two – so thank you — you’ve reminded me. Now….for some sorting out of bits of paper… 🙂

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    • I have my moments when I don’t feel so organized, Jenny. I do like order and writing things down is a must for me. I agree, Roy really had a productive staycation…very impressive.

      It’s been my observation that women tend to be more organized then men…I hope I don’t offend anyone. 🙂

      Oh, travel journals are great to revisit and relive the wonderful memories. Have a great weekend and don’t be fidgeting with those widgets! 🙂

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  6. Jill, as a girl who started with a pink Cinderella Diary under her mattress, you’ve been a REAL writer for a very long time!
    Like you, I don’t write in my journal every day, but now you’ve inspired me to write more often…and the Free Writing is an excellent technique. I also keep a small notebook for all the “littles” of writing: contests I learn about; magazines looking for sidebars, personal how-to’s and anecdotes; upcoming memoir or short story contests, etc. When I can’t gear up to work on a current project, I choose something from the little notebook and write until the inspiration returns, another idea pops up, or until I actually submit something to the list in the little notebook.
    The secret is to keep writing and remembering…and liking the writing.

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    • When I was in the third grade, my next door neighbor and I wrote long plays and acted them out for our parents. I guess it was in my blood at a young age, Marylin.

      That’s a great idea to have a contest journal. I normally will e-mail contest information to myself, but it would be nice to have it all in one place.

      Have a wonderful weekend!

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  7. Aw, the pink Cinderella diary is such a sweet image. I’m pretty sure mine was a pink ballerina. Thank you so much for the nod. As you know, I freewrite and don’t keep a journal, but those little key-lock diaries were one of my first connections to writing. You are right: the secret is to keep writing and remembering!

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  8. Combination of both, more or less – mostly free writing – I rather like the characters and story line taking me for a ride. Keep telling myself to get better organized… Always wishing you the best, Jill.

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    • The world of free writing is all new to me. I love it! I bet you had a fantastic view of the full Harvest Moon this week, Billy. It was so beautiful. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Thanks for all the Tweets today, that was nice of you. One of these days, I’ll figure out Twitter. 🙂

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  9. I do both. I have journals that are my journals, where I talk to myself. I also have notebooks where I sketch out writing ideas (titles, plots, themes, first drafts….) very messy places. I do a lot of free writing.

    I often compose at the computer now, because I can type so quickly. But anything requiring a deep level of creativity or intuition requires a pen-in-hand, ink-on-paper inspiration phase before it goes into the word processor.

    My first diary was yellow. With a sweet little victorian-looking easily-picked padlock.

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    • LOL…my first diary was easily picked as well, according to my sister.

      That’s the great thing about the idea journal, it’s okay for it to be a messy place. I’m wondering if you have a designated notebook for your free writing. I think I might need to keep it separate from my ideas journal.

      Like you, I type fast. I normally begin my stories with a nice writing tablet and a fancy pen. I love pens as much as I love journals. After the project is underway, I’ll rotate between the computer and handwritten.

      I appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to comment, Tracy. I hope you have a fabulous weekend!

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      • Yes, I do have a separate notebook for free writing (distinguished from ideas). I generally have 3 or 4 journals/notebooks going at once.

        It took a long while for me to find my system. (and I’m also a pen fan). I’m convinced that we writers all need to do whatever works best for us.

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  10. Wow! You’ve been an author since childhood! I’ve been known to start a a journal here and there, but never really got into it. I have an ideas journal for activities or events that I am planning. I also use it for taking notes. Have a happy weekend!

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    • I wish I still have that first diary, Elaine. Recently I came across a book report my mother had saved. It was written when I was in the second grade on the big green paper with the dotted lines. It was so fun to read.

      A planning journal is a great idea. Enjoy your weekend!

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  11. I e-mail ideas to myself. I can’t read my own handwriting, so a journal would be an exercise in abstract art.

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  12. My first diary was a baby blue one I remember and like you I did not have any dark secrets to hide but I would hide it somewhere in my room where my brother would not find it. I loved to keep a diary regularly, and then switched to a journal. I do jot down ideas for writing in my journal not too regularly though. But it always helps to open it sometimes and look and one finds a treasury of ideas sometimes. You are a writer from childhood Jill and your neat and tidy, organized habits must have made you a perfectionist in everything that you have done. It reflects in your writing. Remembering the first diary brought back sweet memories of childhood and brought a smile to my face. Thank you for such posts that take me down memory lane and make my day. You have a lovely weekend my friend. Awesome post.

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    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Samina. It’s funny how we hid our diaries even though there were no secrets. I’m wondering if your brother ever found it.

      What I like about the ideas journal is you can jot something down and months later when you read it, a story is born. In addition, it helps me to stay organized.

      I hope you have a wonderful weekend, Samina! I’m still taking peeks at Baby Samuel’s picture and each time, it brings a smile to my face.

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      • Yes Jill my brother found it several times and he had a habit of reading it aloud in front of my parents. I hated it, some of the harmless secrets of school were in there and I didn’t want them to be revealed. Thanks Jill for enjoying baby Samuels picture, he has received quite a few compliments. You take care and enjoy the weekend.

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      • Oh my, he was a meanie. 🙂

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      • Yes he was, being the eldest and I being the youngest of the two of us (the age difference between us was 9 years). He would tease me to death but my parents took my side and he still complains of that. You know Jill why I love your posts since they touch me on a very personal level and always bring back sweet memories of the past those which I want to remember. I think as a writer you have this great art of touching the inner chords of the heart, and it makes you an awesome writer and an equally awesome person. Take care my friend.

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      • Thank you so much, Samina. I hope you have a wonderful week. 🙂

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  13. When I was a kid, I had a pink diary that my older brother kept trying to read. I wish I’d kept that diary. I did keep a cardboard diary I made when I was eleven. So your post brings back memories.

    I used to keep a daily journal, a routine I began when I was 19 and angsty in college. But I don’t keep a daily journal any more. I use a journal to free write or to write ideas for stories and dialogue. I love getting a fresh journal and adding my words to it. It’s like walking on fresh fallen snow.

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    • I also wish I still had that first diary since I have no idea what I wrote about at that age. Perhaps I wrote about my friends or school, no doubt, it would be fun to read.

      I love that you made your own cardboard diary, L. Marie. Oh, I feel the same way about writing in a new journal, through in a new pen and I’m in heaven. Have a fantastic weekend!

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  14. Freewriting’s an interesting idea, Jill. I’ll have to look at Luane’s post.
    I’m guilty (of course!) of keeping journals, and can certainly relate to the Cinderella one. These days it’s all just travel notes, but somewhere in the loft is a vanity case full of old diaries. 🙂

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    • I’m not sure where I’ve been, Jo, I knew nothing about free writing until I read Luanne’s post. She’s opened a new world for me.

      Your lovely blog is like taking a peek into your travel journal…I love it! Have a great weekend!

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  15. I, too, have journals all over the place – gratitude, idea, airport people descriptions, vacation recordings, etc. And yet it does nothing to reduce the notes I continue to scrawl on scraps of papers, magazine page borders, backs of envelopes and napkins. No telling how many fabulous ideas were sent to the recycling bin. Journals – yes. Personal diaries? No. Total paranoia left over from my youthful days where I basically told on myself for years. My mother had me convinced that she had spies all over the neighborhood watching my every move. And on top of that, clearly she was psychic because she even knew what I was THINKING of doing next. Those diary keys were worthless.

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    • LOL…that is too funny, “spies all over the neighborhood.” I can understand your paranoia over personal diaries, Shel.

      I agree, the keys were worthless. You could pick the lock with a bobby pin, so my sister said.

      Have a great Sunday!

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  16. I don’t do either journaling or freewriting. I’ve heard good things about regular freewriting but I’ve yet to actually give it a whirl. You know, I feel like I have to dive right in to whatever it is I’m working on.

    I thought about an ideas journal a few years ago. Not being one to scribble in notebooks, I decided to use this wonderful piece of software I already had call MacJournal (if you are a mac owner and you haven’t checked it out yet, I highly recommend it). I created an ideas specific journal and have been adding to it over time. Now when I go back and look at it I’m quite amazed at how many good ideas I’ve had … I could spend a long, long time just going through them and writing stories, but then I guess that’s the whole point, right? 🙂

    Hope you’re having a great weekend, Jill.

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    • I always felt the same way, Dave. When I sat down to write, I wanted to pick up where I left off on my WIP, since time was limited and I didn’t want to waste a minute. I do think free writing can help you learn more about your characters and in the end, the time spent won’t be wasted.

      Thanks to your MacJournal, it sounds like you’ve got a good arsenal of ideas. If you’re like me, the ideas are always there, it’s finding the time to develop them that’s the problem. 🙂

      Enjoy your Sunday, Dave!

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  17. I love freewriting when I can remember to do it. Just can’t seem to form a habit. I hope it goes better for you than it has me!

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  18. When something is bothering me, I freewrite. Sometimes writing it down gives me closure or helps me see the solution to a problem. I’ve journaled on and off. Usually when I’m traveling. 🙂 The blog pretty much functions as my journal now.

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  19. Each year I say I’m going to keep a diary. by day two, I’m done. I wish I was disciplined.

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