Things to Think About During the Dear Diary Project
Yesterday, on September first, you should have begun your Dear Diary Project. Your first entry could’ve been your character starting a new journal and introducing themselves to the book–I often start my own new journals by mentioning who I am and why I got the journal–or they could’ve just started ranting about their lives. It depends on who your character is. And that, my friends, is the most important thing to keep in mind while writing your Dear Diary Project: that everything, the style of the journal and the length of each entry and everything else, depends on who your character is.
Once a week this month I will post a question for your character to ask themselves in their journal. If they’re an artist, they might do this naturally. Many writers and other creative people journal when they feel stuck, and ask themselves why they feel stuck. Then again, your character might have somebody else ask them something, and they might realize that they don’t know the answers. Or, in modern day, they could’ve found journalling prompts on the internet. Why your character is asking themselves this question is almost as important as the question itself and how they answer them. Come up with a reason for every question they ask themselves, and you’ll learn a lot about character motivation.
Remember that the goal of Dear Diary is to write every day. If you miss a day, I won’t judge you, but you can’t write two entries the next day to make up for it. We’re not aiming for a monthly goal, so there’s no catching up. How many entries you write is how many you write–and to be completely honest, I’d love to see you manage one for every single day, but I really don’t care if you miss a day. Just remember that the only person you’re cheating by not devoting enough time to your writing is yourself. The world will go on and your family and friends will remain unchanged if you miss a day of writing. It’s only you that suffers from letting life take over writing time. Nobody suffers with you, because until you’ve created something that’s ready for public consumption, nobody cares that you’ve written anything at all.
So this weekend, spend half an hour putting out a diary entry each day. I’m going to be in Algonquin park camping with my hubby, but I’m going to make sure that I write something down anyway. It might not be 250 words. It might be more, it might be less. I’m not taking my computer because we’ll be backpacking the first day, and I don’t feel like carrying it. I will be taking a notebook, but it won’t have a word count feature, so I won’t know until I get back how long each entry is.
But really, that’s not the point. Word counts are goals that are easy to break down and to figure out. They’re an easy way to give yourself measurable writing goals. But writing fifty words in a day, in its own way, is just as awesome as writing five hundred. Sure, your story or book will take longer to get done if you’re only writing fifty words a day, but it’ll still get finished eventually, and at least you’re still devoting a little time to your craft.
So don’t hate yourself if you can only write fifty words one day and five hundred the next. It’s okay. We all go through it. Creativity ebbs and flows. Sometimes it trickles. The important thing is to make the most of whatever creative energy you do have.