Potential in Journal Entries and Writing Exercises

Recently, my mind’s been all over the place. I keep having angry days, sad days, melancholy days, paranoid days, etc. I thought I’d try keeping short journal entries so I could have somewhere to put some thoughts and maybe try to work through them in a therapeutic sort of way.

But as I was writing my first entry, I ended up doing something different. What started out as ranting about something that pissed me off turned into this snippet that peered into the life of a character I’d accidentally created. It was sort of strange, but halfway through I thought to myself, “Hey. What would someone like me, but not me, have to say about this topic?” And I kind of started writing something else, pretending I was a different person. And like all my characters, there’s always going to be some degree of “me” in them, but I gave him a name, made up a situation for him to be in that I’d never personally been in, and before I knew it I’d made a character.

So I tried it again a few days later. I was on my way home from work, and it was a cooler summer night, and I was feeling a little lonely. When I got home, I began writing this little blurb about loneliness, and it turned into this short piece about someone longing for a girl to share a moment with as he sat by a lake, ending with him confessing that he missed this one girl from his past. Who’s the guy? I don’t know. Who’s the girl? I don’t know. But I made this narration that I was really proud of, and I saw potential in another character if I decided to expand it.

I made two other “characters” this way and I noticed the more I played around, the better I got at creating characters that felt more separate from myself, and that’s something I feel I need to work on in my fiction. These recent writing sessions turned into very effective exercises. At the moment, I’d like to try fleshing out these characters a bit more to see if I could create a story around them.

But either way, I thought I’d share my experience with this for any writers struggling with fiction. Creating stories and characters is complicated and often doesn’t work the way we want them to, so sometimes it’s important to go back to writing exercises. This is why it’s important to keep writing, even when you’re short on ideas. Whether you’re writing journal entries or working on short exercises, keep writing something. You never know what you’ll end up finding as you do them. 🙂

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