How To Use A Writing Journal To Generate Ideas
How to use a writing journal to generate ideas
Journal writing can be the tool you have been looking for to help you break through a creative rut and generate successful ideas. One of the most frustrating parts of trying to keep track of ideas and thoughts you have is recalling them later when you need the information.
A journal is the most useful and easy way to record information and track any ideas that you have throughout a busy day. Keeping one handy and ready for use is the best way to make sure that you not only use the journal but use it often.
If you are interested in using a writing journal to help you generate ideas for work or creativity, these are some useful tips and ways to ensure you will have success when using a journal as a tool.
There's no right or wrong way to keep a journal, and whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction, your daily journal writing practice can help you complete your manuscript and realize your dream of publishing your book.
Organize Your Ideas
Journal writing works best when it just happens, but when you are using a journal to generate ideas, there is some merit to organizing your notebook. Depending on how you prefer to use your journal, there are several different ways to do this. You can designate pages or space on pages daily for recording various types of information. Alternatively, you can divide your journal into different sections and fill in the journal as you come up with information to record in each section.
Leave Space for Brain Dumps
While it is a great idea to organize your ideas as much as possible for the future and maintain some sense of order, you need to leave some space for a brain dump. Brain dumps are simply pages and space in your journal that are open for anything and everything that pops into your head. Admittedly, most of the ideas and notes I make as part of my daily brain dumps have no merit or go nowhere, but it gives me the chance to clear my mind of all the things I am holding in my head.
Depending on how you use your journal, leave dedicated pages for brain dumps, or jot down the info amongst your other notes, ideas, and thoughts. Even though this information is jumbled and probably not clear enough for anything useful, there might be some nuggets that you can pull ideas from later or use to formulate your next big success.
Carve Out Time For Idea Generation
One of the best ways to get into the habit of writing ideas down is to carve out time every day. Habits don't just happen. They are formed. Even if you intend to jot down ideas as they hit, it gets easier to remember to do so when you make a habit of writing down all those ideas as they hit.
Set aside ten to fifteen minutes a day, around the same time, where you do nothing but use your journal to free write, take notes, or write down any ideas that are floating around in your head. After a few weeks, you will no longer have to remind yourself to take the time because it will be a part of your daily habit, and you will be reaching for your journal every time there is anything at all you want to remember later.
Keep Notes Alongside Ideas
Journals are not just meant for serious writing. They are also a great place to keep mundane, daily notes. These notes can be kept right alongside the brilliant creative ideas and thoughts about projects and writing prompts.
Keep notes, track your reading, write down the recommended books' names, record where you went, and what you did day-to-day. This information might not seem exciting or inspirational at first, but it can come in handy as you try to flesh out ideas later. It is easier to recall the name of a book you want to reference or an expert that you need to reach out to, or where you were when you first thought of something brilliant.
Track Problems and Issues
Not only do I like to use my journal for writing ideas down and inspiration, but I also like to track problems and issues I have or have noticed. Some of the best ideas and projects come from addressing problems that exist.
Whenever you face a struggle or need help finding an answer to a problem, there is likely someone else out there dealing with the same. Reframe these questions into ideas for articles, blog posts, or projects that you would like to work on. The answer to a problem could be your most successful idea.
Review the Ideas You Generate
Using a journal for idea generation doesn't end with jotting down all the brilliant and mundane ideas you generate. It is essential to review and go back over the ideas that you have written down with some regularity. There are three ways to practice this idea.
When you initially jot ideas down into your journal, they are not developed or entirely thought through. Reviewing what you have written gives you the chance to come back to the start of an idea that you didn't have time to think through when you first had it. Revisit ideas as you have time or learn more and flesh them through a bit more.
Review your ideas for recall or to add the information you already wrote down to projects you are working on. And finally, the initial thoughts that you wrote down can lead to even more ideas, better ideas, or even a series of ideas based around an initial prompt.
Collect Quotes and Affirmations
Litter your journal with quotes and affirmations to reflect on as you work through your journal. You can do this as you go or drop your favorite quotes randomly throughout a journal to rediscover over time. Both ideas give you something to reflect on or can even inspire your journaling for the day.
Now It’s Your Turn
Grab your writing journal (see our journals at The Amazing Office) and start generating your ideas!
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