Faye Arcand, How to Make Your Writing Better, My Twisted Writer Brain…

5 Simple Reasons Why All Writers Need to Journal

Do you journal? I’m not thinking of a diary where you list the events of the day and swoon over the new boy at school…

Just a minute, I might be saying that, but really that’s only part of it.

Journaling, as I look at it, is an informal and casual way of writing down your thoughts and experiences as well as, emotional reactions and happenings.

If you’re a writer, think of it as a record keeping tool where you can go and either scribble everything down or flip through for ideas or to jog the memory.

Our thoughts meander all over the place and that’s a good thing as we allow the muse to lead us to different planes of consciousness or thought, but they get lost.

As I think of journalling... Five Reasons!

If you don’t write it down–you will forget it. Trust me on this one. Whether it’s a name you think of that fits your character perfectly, a sentence to describe someone’s eyes, or random thoughts…you will forget.

Trying to dig through memories after the fact can be disappointing. If your writer brain is anything like mine, it flits here and there and everywhere. Things need to be recorded immediately (or as soon as possible).

The nice thing about journalling is there’s no rules about grammar, neatness, or content. Scribble it down and then you’ll have it.

#2 Journalling can also be about specific topics–like planning a wedding, running a marathon, or taking vacation–the topics are of course endless. I do this for both of my blogs.

If I have an idea but I’m not ready to write it out then I’ll jot it down and think on it for a while.

Story ideas: oh man… you’re in the shower, your hair is a mass of bubbles and then boom the next bestseller plot drops into your head. You can’t rush to the computer and start typing but you can dry your hands and scribble the thoughts down in your journal. After rinsing you can expand on the thoughts and add to them as required until you’re ready to tackle the project.

#3 A journal is a great place to make lists. I love lists. I may start making a list of attributes I want my next protagonist to have or start jotting down locations or important things I want to showcase in my writing.

Lists are so helpful because they provide direction. You may want to write a blog on: what to take on vacation. Well, using a journal to really contemplate the answer is much better than jumping in with both feet. It allows for brainstorming and researching for that perfect unique thing that no one else has considered.

I also like to make lists of quotes, books to read, blogs to read or great lines I’ve read in books. If they’re in my journal then they’re tucked away ready to use when necessary. No pressure.

Don’t rush your writing. Allow the journal to lead you there in a methodical way of searching your Twisted Writer Brain. Believe me it will make your writing more complete and unique.

#4 Making entries into a journal can be very personal. How did it feel to swoon over the new guy in class? or to watch someone die? or have a baby? Note down the physical, spiritual, and emotional reactions. Be honest and dig deep for the richest words and comparisons to describe the experiences.

These could prove priceless in time as you may want to write and your words could trigger the memories. The journal is private and you can share all your emotions in there. This is invaluable when you think of it. Think visceral–what makes your gut clench? or how does your body react to the smell of cookies baking…These are real and can be used in your writing. Also don’t forget about sounds…I find these often overlooked in stories but they’re so powerful to set a scene.

Just recently there was a wild fire near my house. We were evacuated for a week but the helicopters are still flying overhead. The thwacking of the blades as the helicopter hovers over our house reverberates through my entire body. The blood quivers against the inside walls of my body making ripples like lake water where you’ve thrown a huge stone. The heart pumps faster as blades beat and cut through the air–I can feel the sound within me– write that stuff down.

And #5

If you ever have any inclination to write a memoir in the future, then you must keep a journal. A memoir is not just about memories from the past, it is an emotional journey that you share with others to show who you are and where you’ve been.

To write a great memoir means to connect with the reader–someone you don’t know–and that means making an emotional connection. So realize that every major point in your life is a pivot point. A memoir should also consider your motivations, failures, successes, and your personal impulses, personality, and short-comings (or conversely–your smarts/faith/quick thinking) and how they brought you to where you are.

I hope that makes sense. If you’re going to write a memoir begin by making notes of who you are and what you’re doing today–after all, it was yesterday that brought you to today. Keep a journal close by to jot down thoughts as they come to you or memories that were buried somewhere… it’s all so exciting.

Journals are a good thing.

Oh, and in the light of full disclosure. I have about ten different journals. I have one beside the bed, one in my purse, and another in almost every room in the house. Hey, you never know when a clever thought will present itself, right?

Have a great week.

21 thoughts on “5 Simple Reasons Why All Writers Need to Journal”

  1. Another suggestion: If you’re working on different projects (e.g. different blogs, different writing projects, etc., it can be really helpful to either have separate journals for each OR at least divide the journal (or binder–handy for this type of journaling) into sections. Then you can quickly find what you’re looking for. If you have journals that you scrawl ideas in while in the bathroom or in the middle of the night, transfer the info as soon as you can into the appropriate journal section. Trust me, after filling nearly 200 journals over the years, and then having to dig back, search through, reread, etc. over and over–it’s a lot easier to just put specific topics together! Of course, you can also have a journal (or section) for scrawling general stuff like feelings, events, etc., that are not particular topics/projects.

    1. I love this Norma. Thanks for adding to the post. I have several journal all going at the same time and as I’m sure you can imagine I can usually be found at least once a day flipping through each one to find something I wrote. I like the idea of transferring them to a binder or some such because oh my it can be frustrating. lol

      1. That’s such great and raw material to reflect on and use in your writing when you’re thinking about how much you’ve grown over the years.

  2. I used to journal from kid to teenage years. It was fun reading them as an adult. I know keep a bullet journal which i use as a planner and for note taking, things to do, xmas list, etc. I have an index where add page numbers for what belongs to what and a highlighter to separate sections. I have found this to be very usual as my old journals were not numbered and I would have to go back and reread to find what I was looking for! Great post! ❤️

    1. OMG. I love that idea Azilde. I’m going to start numbering mine. That’s brilliant. I probably have at least 100 notebook/journals kicking around. It can be tough to keep them straight. I love that you’ve been journalling for such a long time and have those to look back on.

      1. Thanks Faye! It has been so helpful numbering the pages and keeping an index. I feel so much more organized. Journaling is the best. Its great writing our thoughts the minute we think of them. We have so much going on we may forget if we don’t write it down! Thanks again for posting this awesome blog! ❤️

      2. Ah Thanks Azilde. I too forgot things if I don’t write them down. My Twisted Writer Brain sometimes says…oh don’t worry–you’ll remember…lol. Learned my lesson and keep my journal close.

  3. Truth on the forgetting bit! I journal every day (two A5 pages), and whenever I read an old post, I almost always have pushed those memories out of my mind. It’s great to relive things I thought I’d forgotten sometimes. Thanks for this post, Faye!

    1. Keep that journal going Stuart. They can end up being a lifeline of creativity and memories. Thanks for stopping by. Hope all is well in your world. Stay safe.

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