Creating your Writer’s Journal Practice (journaling series)

Journaling for Artistic Expression & Creativity

You might be wondering what exactly is a writer’s journal or notebook. Or maybe you’ve started one but don’t know how to go forward with it? I used a creative writing notebook to come up with all 12 of the short stories in an upcoming collection. And I cannot imagine what I’d do without it!

In this post I wanted to share a little about what is a writer’s journal and how it can help you write faster, easier and with less restriction. (If you’re interested, check out other posts in the journaling series, links above.)
A writer’s journal is a physical or digital notebook of any shape and kind, where you practice your craft, gather details and clarify your writing goals. The best way to become a better writer is to practice in your notebook everyday, even if it just means doing a quick writing prompt or exercise.
So, what kinds of things go into the notebook? It’s completely up to you!
You could write down a personal piece like a diary entry one day, and a list of interesting character habits another day. Every bit you add to your notebook is useful, because you’re getting to know yourself and what topics and details you find interesting.

It doesn’t matter if its not perfect, if its bizarre, or if its full of spelling mistakes (all those things are not important at this stage) – what matters is that you’re finding and developing ideas and discovering your voice and writing style.

Here are some ideas for your journal:

⦁ Choose one of the five senses and describe an experience
⦁ Collect phrases, sayings, or famous quotes and create a story based on it
⦁ Do writing exercises and prompts
⦁ Take your notebook with you and record happenings, bits of dialogue or describe places and people
⦁ Make a running list of story or character ideas
⦁ Improve vocabulary, grammar and punctuation
⦁ Rewrite a scene or story, try a different ending
⦁ Write to an outer rhythm – washing machine, music, sea waves
⦁ Make a list of themes and topics you care about and weave them into your writing
⦁ Brainstorm an idea for your next piece of writing
⦁ Excerpts of writing you like
⦁ Sketches or images to stimulate your writing

Have you tried morning pages?

Morning Pages, from the book Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, is an amazingly simple and effective tool to unblock as a writer.

It’s stream-of-consciousness writing, which means you don’t have to worry about what you’re writing – just go with the flow and surprise yourself with what comes up!
My morning page looks something like this…
It’s 7am. I feel a bit yawny but I’m grateful it’s Sunday and I have all this time for myself. I don’t have to rush before I start on my writing. Maybe I’ll try to learn to drive the two-wheeler today. I don’t know. I’m scared…

It’s okay to ramble on. That’s the point. If you find yourself running out of things to say, just write ‘I don’t know what to write’.

The trick is to keep your hand moving across the page, for three pages without restriction. It helps to loosen all that mind chatter and clear your inner space before you take on any creative activity.

Visit Julia’s website for more info.

Start writing and growing that notebook collection!

As you grow your notebook collection, it will become an invaluable resource throughout your writing journey.

What do you keep in your writer’s notebook? Let me know in the comments below.

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