I’ve kept a journal, on and off, since reading Dorothea Brande’s Becoming a Writer many, many years ago. Unlike André Gide, whose journals I’ve been re-reading, nothing I’ve written will see the light of day. My ‘journal’ has mainly featured either the simple (but not easy) discipline of writing what usually turn out to be rather incoherent ‘morning pages’, or the exasperated attempts to write anything at all to jab away at the logjam when the words of my novel won’t come. Nevertheless, no matter how embarrassing the rereads prove to be, there is, occasionally, a thought or an idea that’s worth hanging on to. And most of the time the process gets me ‘at it’ again.
I think Gide (pictured with his daughter) summed it up accurately:
“I must struggle by every means against the breaking up and scattering of my thoughts. It is for this reason that I have harnessed myself to this journal again, without any pleasure but as a means of getting myself into the spirit of work.”