I write out my fears, my worries, my dead ends, and all the difficulties I face trying to piece a story together from beginning to end.
Usually, as I am processing, solutions will come to me. I'll inevitably have a breakthough and I know that I wouldn't have come to it if I hadn't journaled my way there.
What Goes Into A Writer's Journal And How Does It Work?
Whether you keep your journal on the computer or in a notebook, you should check in at the beginning of your writing day. You can begin with how your day started if you like, some notes about how you've been feeling.
Use the journal to get out any anxiety you may be feeling over your writing. If you're worried about an upcoming scene, or you're having trouble with pacing or plot, write about it. If you don't face those fears, that anxiety can inhibit your writing, leading to self-sabotage and writer's block.
Generally, the next thing I do is lay out exactly where I am in the story. I talk to myself about the scene that I am working on, what's happening, who is present, and the action of the moment.
And remember, this journal is for your eyes only. No one else will ever see it so don't worry about bad writing here. Use any format you like, from long paragraphs to bullet points, if that's what your comfortable with.
I use my journal to toss around ideas. I experiment with "What if..." I jot down ideas for scenes, characters, and dialogue. I explore all the story possibilities, all the pros and cons. It helps me plot my story and gives me something to look back on when I am further along and wonder, what happens next? I also make note of any questions that come to me while I'm writing a scene.
Use Your Journal As A Jump Start
The great thing about writing in your journal is that before you know it, you're sliding right into your writing for the day. My journal helps me get past any resistance I may be feeling. It helps me get focused and gets the words flowing.
If you haven't already started using a journal, you should really try one and see how it works for you. Remember, it's your journal, so you can use it any way you want. You can type it or write longhand like I do. You can use it every day or once a week. Whatever works for you.
If you're interested in learning more about how writers use their notebooks, check out the links below.
Finding The Perfect Writing Notebook and How To Use It To Finish Your Book By Mary Carroll Moore
In Praise Of The Writing Journal By S.G Redling
Journaling Techniques To Improve Your Writing By Joanna Penn
A Writer's Notebook By Julie Musil
The Magic Notebook By Deborah J Ross
(image by Bob AuBuchon)