Wild Words . . . Photos & Fine Art

Co-creating by heart with sandy cathcart through writers helps and art info, focusing on all things wild.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Writing Question from a Photographer Friend

This question from a photographer friend I’m encouraging to write, because the two go so well together:

My first problem is I don't commit to writing. Everyone tells me that I have to journal, journal, journal, and I am starting to realize I just don't like journaling. Does one have to journal to be a writer? I much prefer to write when the inspiration hits.

No. You do not have to journal, journal, journal.

That works for some writers, but not for all. I always journal when I go on a trip, because I want to remember every detail, but I don’t journal every day. I don’t do much of anything every single day. My journals are a laugh. Sometimes I journal for months at a time, then a year, maybe two goes by and I pick up where I left off. Ha!

With that said, I will say that journaling is good if you can do it. There are so many things I’ve forgotten because I didn’t journal.

So, I do the next best thing. I have a Moleskine book . Have you heard of those? Van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway used this awesome little book. Makes me feel so creative just to own one of these things. The more worn it looks, the better. I’m up there with the big guys! Ha!

I use my Moleskine to write down the things that inspire me, just like you already do. The calendar on my wall at home also works for writing down quotes I don’t want to miss, or the opening of the spring flowers or the trill and color of a new bird I see out my window. Scraps of paper are the worst. I’m forever losing those things.

Some artists and writers use tape recorders. That doesn’t work well for me, because I never get the words off the silly tape! Then the tapes pile up and I rarely get them labeled, so I have another mess.

I also have a little Handspring (Palm Pilot type of thing) with a keyboard that fits in my coat pocket or backpack. I take that thing everywhere. It’s no surprise to see me in the middle of the wilderness typing away with a log as a desk.

And yes, when driving, I’m often pulling over to the side of the road because inspiration has struck.

The pulling over part came after my husband caught me driving down the road trying to write and steer at the same time. He called me on the cell phone…now, if that wasn’t a trick…writing, and driving, and answering the cell all at once! “Quit writing and look at the road,” he said.


All that to say, it’s okay to only journal as inspiration hits, but one thing to note…inspiration will probably hit more often if you get into more of a habit of writing.

So, if you’re not going to journal, at least have a time and place to write something…even if it’s simply to write something worth remembering about your day, or your feelings, or a question that’s been bugging you, or the color or smell of something you take for granted. You’ll learn to see with new eyes and meet the challenge of putting those new sights into words. Sounds a bit like journaling. Eh?


At 8:34 AM, Blogger photodan said...

Hey Sandy, I love this blog! I've never been a part of one before, but looking forward to participating in this one. As far as journaling, I've now recognized that my photography is a form of journaling, in and of itself. When I first expressed interest in writing to go along with my photography, it seemed as if anyone who knew anything about writing said I have to journal. Because of this, journaling felt very "forced" to me. Now, knowing that it's just one of many ways to get thoughts together, it may become a much more useful tool for me.

At 9:46 AM, Blogger foppuz said...

Hi Sandy,

I stumbled by your log today (okay I intentionally copy and pasted your URL from a new friend's xanga site). I must say I've enjoyed the visit!

Something I always wish I would remember to do is keep a notebook beside my bed, that way I could jot down ideas, story ideas, or even the weird dreams I wake up from and then don't remember in the morning. But alas, the only time I think of actually getting one is when I'm lying there comfortably already, and have no desire to brave the cold of my painted floors. I think, "Oh I'll remember this tomorrow, but then don't. Sigh.

At 1:04 PM, Blogger Sandy Cathcart said...


You are so totally right! Photography is a wonderful form of journaling. I can get out my photos and they take me right back to China...to Peru...to Vietnam...to Israel..and all the sights and sounds immediately rush over me. So glad you pointed that out.

Congratulations on the new column! I'll be looking forward to seeing that.

At 1:06 PM, Blogger Sandy Cathcart said...


Welcome! I'm glad you stumbled by. And you have brought up a good point. Having a journal next to the bed is crucial. I get some of my best ideas when I'm sleeping and I never make myself get up and find a tablet. After losing my very best ideas (ha!) I now have a pen and pad right next to the bed, along with a flashlight. What a difference it makes.


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