How To Keep a Writing Journal

Whether you're a professional writer or would just like to explore your creative side, a writing journal is a great way to get in the habit of writing.

  1. Decide on a journal format.  Will you type your journal entries in a word processing program or handwrite them in a leather-bound notebook?  Some writers prefer the convenience of the electronic format while others enjoy the tactile experience of writing in an actual journal.     
  2. Think about your purpose for keeping a journal.  Do you want to use your journal for brainstorming and free writing?  Do you want to explore new genres and styles of writing?  Do you want to reflect on your progress as a writer?  There is no right or wrong reason for keeping a writing journal, and your purpose can evolve.  However, having an idea of why you're keeping a journal can help you get the most from the experience. 
  3. Set aside time for writing in your journal.  You can write every day or once a week.  The more often you write, the sooner it will become a habit.  At the same time, be reasonable, and don't set an impossible schedule that's doomed to fail.
  4. Look for writing prompts.  They are meant to jumpstart your creativity by providing a topic on which to focus your daily writing.  There are numerous books and websites offering prompts for writers.  You may need to browse through multiple sources to find the best fit for your writing.        
  5. Be flexible and keep it fun.  The hallmark of a writing journal is creativity.  If today's writing prompt doesn't inspire you, turn to tomorrow's topic.  If you planned to work on dialogue, but you have a descriptive piece floating around in your head, forget the plans and get that scene down on paper.   
  6. Keep going.  There will be days when the words don't quite flow and nothing sounds right.  You may get busy and skip a few days of writing.  Just because you've gotten off-track doesn't mean you have to give up on the project altogether.  Get back into the writing habit as soon as possible. 
  7. Review your writing.  Look back at your journal entries from time to time.  Are there any pieces you'd like to develop?  How has your writing progressed since you started keeping a journal?  Where do you still need improvement?  While the regular practice of keeping a writing journal is helpful in and of itself, this sort of reflection upon your work can also help to improve your writing.


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