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I’ve been writing in my journal a lot this summer. It’s not something I do that often. The department encourages it, but it isn’t part of my natural process–I’d rather type to start. I type faster than I write long-hand, and I can get more out. I don’t have to slow my thinking down as much as it seems I have to do when I write long-hand. But, for some reason, I’ve found comfort and an interesting voice recently by writing long hand.Maybe it’s the places I can go when I have my small, light-weight journal. Sometimes, I take it with me for tea.

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We will go to David’s Tea, and my journal and I will indulge in our new favorite iced tea, Coconut Grove, and slowly sip the naturally sweet drink while observing people as they walk by on Southport Avenue. I will write prose poetry in my journal about the people, what they might be thinking, where they might be going, why they might be the way they appear to be. I’ll make up their life stories and put them in the journal.

Or, sometimes the weather won’t be perfect, and instead, I’ll want to get the mood of the day down. I’ll bring my journal out in the fog and we will find somewhere that the cold and dampness evokes fear or pain or discomfort for our characters, our friends.

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In the city, the skyscrapers can tower over you and look as if they are about to cut through the fog and fall on top of you. That is a cool feeling, and my journal is the perfect place to record things like this.

I use my journal to experiment and get messy. It isn’t necessarily the best writing I’ve ever done, nor does it record only work from ongoing materials. Sometimes, I write down lines of dialogue I overhear. Sometimes, I write down snippets of a dream I had or the basics for a strange encounter with a cab driver or a tourist on the street. I’ve come to embrace writing in my journal, so much so that I talk about it like it is a person sometimes. So, if you’re a writer, and maybe you feel like you’re in a rut or maybe you want to try something different for your process, I recommend using a journal. Take it around with you and just try new things in it. Don’t be afraid to mark up pages with words, phrases, and lines that seemingly don’t make sense. Maybe they will later. Or, maybe they won’t. It doesn’t matter–just try!

What about you, MarginAliens? Are you trying any new ways of writing this summer?