In his book On Writing, prolific author Stephen King states, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” Great advice! At Writer’s Relief, we know one smart way to boost the amount of writing you do is to try journaling. But put down that fluffy-topped pen—keeping a journal isn’t the same as writing what you had for breakfast in your diary. Instead, a journal is used for exploring ideas and improving your skills as a writer. Here are the best tips and tricks to help you use journaling to your writing advantage.
4 Ways Journaling Can Make You A Better Writer
Practice makes perfect. Journaling will get you into the habit of daily writing. And the more you write, the easier it will be for you to face a blank page and overcome any bouts of writer’s block. Your journal is also a great place to practice freewriting. This stream-of-consciousness style of writing is a good technique for generating new ideas. You may end up with a lot of nothing—but you may also discover the springboard to a new story, poem, or essay.
To get started, try a few writing prompts or some easy creative writing exercises.
No pressure. The ideas you generate while journaling are yours to write, rewrite, and discard as you please. You can jot down something inspiring and revisit it at another time. There’s no pressure—you don’t have to worry about getting any of your journal writing proofread, formatted, or ready for submission in time to meet an editor’s deadline.
So write sideways…write backward…write a sentence and then halfway through abandon it for another one! Doodle. Draw. It doesn’t matter how unpolished, silly, or “out there” your journal entries are. What’s important is that you are flexing your creative muscles. This is your opportunity to find your writing voice and explore how you want to express your thoughts and feelings.
Here are a few topics you might want to explore at your leisure: 59 Journaling Ideas: What to Write About in a Daily Journal
Self-care is important. Studies have found that journaling can result in better sleep, a healthier immune system, and more self-confidence. And when you feel better, you can focus more energy and enthusiasm on your writing! By placing your musings and even your anxieties in a journal, you unclog your mind and leave it open for new ideas. It’s an inexpensive, easy way to gain some self-care benefits and clarity.
A sense of identity. Even if you’ve been published—and especially if you haven’t been published yet—you may still have a hard time identifying yourself as a “writer.” Journaling every day can help you feel less like an impostor and more like the real deal. Whether your journal is filled with half-finished projects, ideas that didn’t pan out, doodles of your characters, or freewriting that seems like nonsense—you’re a writer, no matter what anyone else thinks.
When you stretch yourself and try writing something outside your comfort zone (perhaps a short story instead of poetry, or poetry instead of your next book chapter), it helps boost your confidence. And when you consider yourself a writer, you’ll be more likely to stick to jotting down even a few lines every day. Make a note in your journal: I’m a writer, and I’m joining a writing group today!
Keeping a journal will help you tap into your creativity, test ideas, clear your mind for new inspiration, and give you a sense of accomplishment. And later, when you look back through your journal, you’ll be able to see how much you’ve developed as a writer!
Question: How do you use journaling to improve your writing?