You may think you do plenty of writing: poems, short stories, personal essays, or chapters for your book. With all that time spent working on your projects, writing in a journal might seem like an unnecessary additional task. But the experts at Writer’s Relief know that jotting down notes, thoughts, and inspiration in a journal can help improve your creative writing. Here are 7 reasons writers should keep a journal.
Reasons Why Writers Should Keep A Journal
Note the details of your day. Details will help bring your memories to life. What were you wearing—a soft sweatshirt, or too-tight new shoes? What fruit was on display in the grocery store today? Did you smell soup or cinnamon when you walked past the restaurant? Use all your senses when writing descriptions for your journal. Later, you can use these descriptions to make your writing more vivid for readers.
Capture ideas. Writers are always on the lookout for new ideas and inspiration. You might notice an ornate birdbath in your neighbor’s yard that brings to mind ideas for a poem about a goldfinch, or overhear a conversation in a café that inspires the opening scene of a short story. And who did the blue mittens in the Lost and Found box belong to? When you’re looking for writing prompts or a new direction, the ideas noted in your journal offer options to explore further.
Reflect on memories. Your journal entries about your memories can be as short as a few words or as long as you want. When you write about a memory, be sure to include the time of day, weather, and year. The memories you journal about can be small or significant. You can recall the jokes told by a funny coworker, or the last time you had coffee with your high school best friend. Or perhaps you may choose to write about something more momentous: the day your child was born, your wedding day, or the moment you met the love of your life.
Track your writing achievements. Use your journal to give yourself an occasional pat on the back and a much-deserved compliment! Maybe you’re unpublished, so you have trouble considering yourself a “real writer.” But even published writers can have moments of self-doubt. You can banish impostor syndrome by making a list of your writing accomplishments in your journal. Of course, publications and awards count—but so does joining a writing group, attending a writing event or conference, completing a piece you’ve been working on for months, and sending out submissions to literary agents and editors.
Even rejection letters can be seen as positive achievements: They show you’re getting your work out there, and that you’re one step closer to an acceptance!
Review your writing goals. Having goals helps you stay on track and moving forward to achieve your writing objectives. Create a writing to-do list that you can refer to and modify as needed. Your list can include goals such as “proofread for grammar and typos” and “research markets for making submissions.”
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Keep a record of story or poetry elements. Character traits and backstories, plot diagrams, timelines, story research, outlines, word counts, synonyms, and more will all be at your fingertips if you keep them in your writing journal.
Preserve what matters to you. There are no set-in-stone guidelines as to what you should or shouldn’t include when journaling. You might want to jot down inspirational quotes or include a list of possible writing prompts to help deal with writer’s block. Write about how a song, story, or poem made you feel.
There is one rule to follow: Always be honest about your emotions—your journal is a safe place to explore how something affected you. You don’t have to share everything written in your journal with others.
Being a writer doesn’t only happen when you’re typing at a keyboard or working on a specific writing project. It’s what happens when you’re standing in line at the bank and notice a green balloon float past the window. Your journal is the perfect place to note, reflect, and see where that idea takes you on your writing journey.
Question: How would you use your journal to improve your writing?