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The best writers are often avid readers who read book after book, absorbing all they can from their favorite stories. But whether you read regularly or less frequently, odds are you won’t remember every detail of every story. Keeping a reading journal will allow you to revisit reactions you’ve had to books you’ve read and use this information to inspire your own writing projects.
The Benefits Of Keeping A Reading Journal
1. Creativity is often triggered by something that we encounter. When an idea pops into your head mid-reading, writing it down will ensure that you remember it when it comes time to write your own story or poem.
2. Keeping a reading journal encourages you to actively read and question what the writer is saying, rather than just passively accepting it. When you submit work for publication, editors will actively read and question your work; cultivating a similar critical reading eye can help strengthen your writing.
3. If you’re in a book group, you’ll be better able to discuss the books and offer insights that others may have overlooked if you have notes to jog your memory.
4. Reviewing your journal will help you discover what you consistently like—and don’t like—in the writing of other authors. This knowledge will guide you in developing and improving your own writing style.
5. A reading journal will help you quickly scan through summaries of the books you’ve read so you can revisit those that are relevant to your current project.
How Do You Start A Reading Journal Or Diary?
It’s easy! Purchase a special journal or designate a section of the journal you currently use to log each book you read.
Here is a list of elements to consider each time you add a new book to your journal:
- Date finished
- A one-paragraph plot summary
- How much you liked the book on a scale of 1-10
- Favorite passages or quotes
- What you learned from it in terms of your own writing
- Favorite scene in the book
- Most liked character and why
- Least liked character and why
Your reading journal can reveal aspects of your reading and writing habits that you might not have been aware of, and assist you in honing your craft. Plus, the next time a friend asks for a book recommendation, you’ll have the answer right at your fingertips!