Journaling for Writers: Become a Better Writer Through Journaling
Have you ever sat down to write and just stared at a blank page with no ideas at all? Or perhaps you’ve been going about an ordinary day when suddenly a piece of information for a story jumps into your head: a bit of dialogue, a character sketch, or a solution to that plot problem you’ve been struggling with, but by the time you make it home, the idea has vanished? Maybe you struggle with maintaining a consistent writing routine or want to grow as a writer and create a treasure trove of writing ideas from which to draw.
If you’ve ever found yourself in any of these situations, journaling might be the perfect solution to your problem. In this post, we will discuss what journaling is and share five tips on how you can use journaling to become a better writer!
What is journaling?
Journaling is the practice of recording your thoughts and feelings onto paper, a computer document, or even a phone app. Journaling can take many forms and you might have to experiment to figure out which method works best for you.
Some common methods of journaling include keeping a diary, a bulleted list, a to-do list, or even sketches in a notepad. Some writers record their journal entries on a computer document. Others use a note-taking app on their phone or a voice-recording device, capturing ideas on the go as they present themselves.
Many writers use a method known as stream-of-consciousness journaling. In this method you don’t use prompts or worry about spelling and grammar, you just let the words flow, even if they are random and make no sense. In doing this, you’re uncovering thoughts and ideas that may become great material for your next writing project.
No matter what format you choose for your journal writing, if you stick with it and create a consistent practice you'll start to see many benefits. Here are just a few:
Journaling can help you find inspiration in daily life
Many writers use journaling to record the everyday events of their lives. They might record what they do each day, where they go, and who they saw. Some writers record the food they eat or even the weather. This is a personal, informal method of journaling, but it can also be a great source of inspiration for your writing.
By getting in the daily habit of recording your thoughts, ideas, and experiences, you have a source of material from which to draw for future writing projects. Things that seem inconsequential at the time you write them may later prove to be great material for a novel. An interesting person you meet at the supermarket might become an intriguing secondary character. The thunderstorm that created a green-tinged sky above your house might be the perfect backdrop for your next thriller. A bit of dialogue you overheard standing in line at the movie theater might have a place in your next story as well.
Journaling helps you maintain a consistent writing routine
On days when you are taking a break from your current writing project or are busy with other aspects of your life, journaling helps you maintain your writing routine. This is important because when you stop working on a project, it’s easy to let your daily writing ritual fall by the wayside.
By using journaling to maintain your routine, you’re reminding yourself that writing is an important part of your life and that it needs a space reserved for it every day. This also helps preserve that writing space in your daily schedule when you aren’t currently working on a writing project.
Journaling helps you become a better writer
The more you write, the better you’ll get! Journaling can be especially helpful for creative writers because there is no pressure—no deadlines forcing you to move quickly, no agents or editors waiting for your next draft.
Instead, journaling allows you to focus on the act of writing just for the sake of writing. It allows you to wander down creative avenues and perfect your skills without censoring the ideas that inspire you. This can help develop your voice as a writer while also sharpening your technique.
Journaling can help you overcome writer’s block
Maybe you can’t quite figure out the answer to the pesky plot twist. Maybe you aren’t sure why your main character is acting the way she is. Taking a break with journaling can help distract you from your writing dilemma by letting your creativity flow in a different way. By giving your mind a new subject to focus on, you might find that it helps you get unstuck in your current writing project.
One way to give yourself a creative distraction is to use a writing prompt. You can find writing prompts on the internet, in books, or even in writing groups you might be a part of. Try a few out, and you may find that imagining new scenarios helps unblock your mind!
Journaling helps you record your ideas that you otherwise might forget
Inspiration for writing often comes at the most inconvenient times and places and when you least expect it. You might wake up in the middle of the night and realize how your main character can solve their problem. Or, have you ever been sitting at a restaurant with friends when the solution to your plot dilemma suddenly presents itself? Maybe while walking your dog at the park you met someone new who inspires you to create your next main character.
By keeping a journal with you at all times, you’re able to record ideas and inspiration as they occur so that you don’t lose them. When it’s time to write, simply pull out your journal to review the ideas you captured while you were going about your everyday life. If you don’t like the idea of having to carry a physical diary with you everywhere, try using a Notes app on your phone!
Ready to start journaling and become a better writer?
Are you ready to get started with journaling so you can grow as a writer and gather more inspiration? Start with deciding how you will journal. Will you use a physical journal or a document on your phone? Will you use sketches and images to capture your idea? Choose a method that works best for you and stick with it.
Find time to journal every day. Some writers prefer writing first thing in the morning when their mind is fresh. Other writers like to journal at the end of the day when they can think back on the events of the day and record them in their journal. This is a great time to pull together any random notes you’ve jotted down in other places and transfer them to your journal.
Whichever method works for you, get started today and give yourself time to adjust to the practice of journaling. It won’t be long before you are eager to open your journal and record your ideas and inspiration!