Whether you are an avid journal writer or you’re starting because of a new year’s resolution…welcome! Every now and then it’s good to go back to the basics. These are in no means an ‘How to’ on journal writing- just more of a way to get you started or to hit refresh.
You don’t have to put pen to paper.
More of the traditional way of journaling is to keep a notebook and pen handy and simply write! But now there are so many more options. You can dedicate a notes section on your phone to journaling, a file on your computer, or you can download an app to use on your tablet! Whatever will feel more comfortable and will keep you journaling.
Keep realistic expectations.
The best way to start something new, or keep something going is to establish a routine. Set realistic expectations for when you want to journal. It is also easier when you link it to something you do everyday. For example, on the train ride commute to work, while you’re having your morning coffee, or when you’re getting ready for bed. Create a healthy habit for yourself.
Write about gratitude.
When in doubt write about gratitude. It can be life changing for mental health when you take the time to write about what you are grateful for. And you can start small with the things in front of you and go from there.
Try something new.
Go outside the box and make your journal personal and messy! Add pictures, or scraps that you have found throughout the day, like a good newspaper article for example. Re-read and write in the margins!
Write for you.
This may be the most important of the journaling basics. Remember why you started it, and write for yourself. No one has to read it and it will not be graded or criticized. Think about what goals you have for yourself and your journal and work towards that.
Take 60 seconds out of your day to reflect positivity.
Start a gratitude journal.
It can be in a journal you already write in, or one dedicated to your gratitude list, but make it your own. Find one that compels you to want to write in it everyday. And put it in a place where you will see it, as a friendly reminder to pick it up.
Keep it simple.
You don’t have to explore the deep depth of your mind just yet. Keep it simple with gratitude such as “I ate today”, “I have a place to sleep” or “I am in love.” With time your list will grow and bring positivity to your life.
Soon your routine will be created. This is your journal, so make sure you are using it to your best ability. Enjoy your favorite cup of coffee or tea in the morning with a furry friend or a cozy blanket and reflect on the positivity in your life. Watch your mind change and grow as your routine sinks in.
This is a perfect time to step away from technology for a little bit and just grab a pencil. Put your thoughts on paper the old fashioned way and really feel what you are writing down.
If you enjoy journaling and are also a writer/author, the relationship between the two can get stronger if you put them together. Embracing a journal and writing entries regularly can help develop your skills as a creative writer.
Suddenly Jamie, a blogger, gave 10 reasons as to why journaling helps writing. Here are just a few that I believe are relevant to writing your novel:
- Helps develop writing habits.
- Helps find your unique voice.
- Clears your mind.
- Flushes out the crap.
- Alleviates the pressure to be “good.”
First, you need to find your own journaling style. If you’re a new writer and want to incorporate your journaling with your writing, there are many different ways to use your journal as a powerful writing tool. You shouldn’t feel pressure from your journaling to write more, think of it as a tool or technique that encourages your writing to happen, instead of falling into the abyss of writer’s block. One style of journaling is like John Steinback’s journals. He chooses to journal about his writing process and keeps himself updated about his writing outside of his current manuscript. Another method is to mirror something like ‘A Q&A a day’, also called “Big-Picture it,” you answer questions in which you revisit the questions after time has lapsed and in revisiting something may pop out in which you can use in your writing. If you enjoy poetry and Twitter, another interesting journaling technique is to use the character-limited social service to write a short sentence about anything. When choosing this route, you could write one tweet a week and compile 52 different poems! A similar tactic is using keywords to write in short hand. Lastly, snapshots are a fun way to journal about one moment in the day.
Now, if you’re comfortable with your journaling style but still want to try and weave it together with your writing, Mari L. McCarthy may be able to help. Journaling is not writing, so don’t substitute! Journaling can serve as a warm-up exercise prior to writing professionally. Writing in a journal can jumpstart thinking and test all kinds of limits for your creative writing. Your journal can be your personal therapist – to flush out the unwanted writing you may accidentally include in your novel.
The art of journaling can be a simple cure to writer’s block or can easily be used to keep your writing brain going between projects. Maybe taking a trip down to the local hobby store and picking up a journal is in your future…it counts as “work,” right?