Novel Writing, Writers on Writing

The ghosts of journals past

Old journal full of freewrites
This is the pretty notebook that caught my eye the other day while I was digging around in a drawer. Who would have guessed the treasures this old journal would hold?

Do you remember a while back when I was talking about my new project and how it had just come to me out of the blue? At the time, I thought my new novel project was this fresh idea I had that just took off like I’d been mulling it over my entire life even though I just thought of it a couple of months ago. That was until this morning when I stumbled across an old journal.

I was digging around for a notebook I could use for freewrites and scene ideas so I could keep those separate from the chronological chapters I’ve been writing one after another in my current journal. I remembered seeing a pretty notebook in the bottom of a desk drawer the other day while digging around for something else I never found and figured that one would do the job.

So, I went back and dug this notebook out of the bottom of that drawer and flipped it open to see if it had enough empty pages in it for me to squeeze in some free writes. Imagine my surprise when I realized this notebook was full of old freewrites that turned out to be directly related to my current story!

I read a quick note I’d once jotted in the top margin of the first page I turned to, and my skin began to tingle. It was as though I’d opened my latest journal and read a line I wrote just yesterday rather than one I’d written some three years ago.

She purposely never got pregnant, and part of his anger at her is due to her inability to produce an heir of the secret society bloodlines.

Of course, a few details are different. The names have changed, and so has the time and place. My story has evolved since I first scribbled in this pretty little notebook three years ago. But the heart – the secret society bloodlines and all they imply – is there and beating, and has been for years. My story isn’t new after all. It has simply been composting in my brain all these years, waiting for the perfect moment to be poured out onto the fresh soil of a blank page.

What’s the most surprising discovery you’ve ever made while perusing an old journal? Please share your experiences in the comments below.

Mandy Webster

5 thoughts on “The ghosts of journals past”

  1. Congratulations!

    Finding an old notebook/journal gives us the chance to know ourselves better by re-introducing the current “me” to the “three year younger me” and when we discover we have had recurring thoughts/ideas it might be time to get them written down.

    Thx for the pingback.

    Best regards,


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