Thoughts on Life, Art, Photography, Technology, Teaching and Travel…..

On Being a Writer……

“Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter. And lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.” —Jack London,

                                        Writing in my daily journal – late 90’s

I’ve been writing in journals since 1974, almost 43 years and I’m still excited about waking up and putting pen to paper complimented with a cup of coffee.  My sister gave me my first journal on my 20th birthday before I got on my motorcycle and rode across the country to… “find myself”. I have been journaling almost daily ever since.

It’s hard to believe I’ve written over 40 years of journal entries in approximately 100 assorted journals, pads, and notebooks of all shapes and sizes. The journal is my confidant. Writing is very much a therapeutic exercise for me at the start of my day.   I make it a point not to edit myself as I write in a semi-automatic “free-flow” fashion.  I start off writing the first thing that enters my mind, usually early in the morning before my head gets filled with the noise and demands of the day.


            Stacks of my journals – more are boxed up somewhere in storage since I moved.

The journal is the one place I can explore ideas, hash out problems, vent, jot down bits of dreams and essentially work through every issue and concern that comes across my path. My journals contain a raw thick soup of disparate content, concepts, doodles, ideas, pains, joys, sadness and a good deal of conflict and confusion.


Sometimes you grab any piece of paper you can find to jot down a thought or idea when you don’t have a journal with you.

This is the one place I can problem solve, spill my guts out and/or just observe/record the world around me.  The journal is also a primary catalyst for my blog posts, art and photographic ideas and the initial place where I brainstorm my art, photography lectures and professional presentations.


A napkin pasted into my journal because I wanted to write and had forgotten my journal.

In other words…the journal is a place to write – to observe – to translate – to explore and investigate the internal and external world.

My blog is also a place to write, although the difference is I edit my blog posts ruthlessly and am much more selective as to what gets posted to the blog.

I let it all rip however, with no censorship in my journals. As an artist/photographer I find my journals invaluable tools when it comes to the creative process. A place to conceptualize a new painting or photography project.


                               Exploring new lighting techniques for creative portraits.

Writing begets writing! The act of just sitting down to write with no preconceived idea of what I’m going to write in reality is a catalyst for writing / brainstorming and generating seeds for stories and other creative projects.


Brainstorming exercise in a past journal in preparation for a professional conference presentation.

I may start with a tiny vague concept – a thought in my head and the process of working through it by journaling allows meet to expand upon it, develop it – flesh it out and all of a sudden that one thought blossoms into a story, idea for a painting, lecture or photographic project.

So yes…I am a writer! I’ve always found it difficult to say this to people. I am a writer. I write! You can be a writer as well. All you need is a journal and a pen or pencil and a quite place to sit and get it all down on paper. Its really not that difficult and you will be surprised at how the words begin to flow and pages start to fill up and go to the next page and the next. The writing takes on a life of its own.


                            Day # 1 of my Camino Pilgrimage Across Northern Spain

I recently returned from hiking the Camino Pilgrimage from Leon to Santiago, Spain (165 miles) and kept a daily travel journal documenting every step of the pilgrimage experience.  When I returned home I pulled key excerpts from each days journal entries and posted a daily log accompanied with photographs to my blog.  Click Here to View.

Anyone can write….anyone can sit down,  put pen to paper and tell some kind of story or just describe what is going on in your life. I like what Natalie Goldberg says about writing below.

“I don’t think everyone wants to create the great American novel, but we all have a dream of telling our stories-of realizing what we think, feel, and see before we die. Writing is a path to meet ourselves and become intimate.”
Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within


4 comments on “On Being a Writer……

  1. Mary Flanagan
    August 11, 2017

    Hi Patrick …Unreal that you’ve been writing your life down for 40 years now….You have a talent for writing that not many people have…and…how lucky you are to have most of your past memories written down…thinking how fortunate for your children to have those journals when you are gone…keep on chugging…..Love you Maryann

  2. Joseph Whichard
    August 11, 2017

    Very inspiring as always Patrick. True words to live by.

  3. Gerry Hoyum
    August 16, 2017

    The written word is so powerful for all of us who love to read. I am glad that you journal Keough, it is one of the things that keeps me grounded. I just reviewed the journals i wrote 40 years ago, yes the Army days. We were doing our thing in the Mojave desert, Ft. Irving was dry dusty and cold. We made the best of it, great chopper time had by all. Mii-gwitch Old Friend. Ozaawaakook.

  4. Violet's Vegan Comics
    November 14, 2017

    Excellent 🙂

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This entry was posted on August 11, 2017 by in Keough Journal, Photography, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , .
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