Journaling Your Book To Completion
Journaling Your Book To Completion
Writers have long used journal writing as a way to organize their thoughts and take their ideas from concept to completion. The writer's brain works by making connections to past events, present observations, and seemingly unrelated topics, and there's no better way to make sense of these connections than by keeping a writer's journal.
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.
Journaling for Fiction and Non-Fiction
If you want to write fiction, keeping a journal will allow you to flesh out your ideas, plot details, and characters in one place. Even if you don't have a book idea yet, you can use your journal to discover yourself and garner inspiration for your book from your own life.
Non-fiction writers can also benefit from keeping a journal because it provides a place to keep research notes and jot down ideas. Whether you want to pen a wild fantasy novel or an informative biography, keeping a writer's journal offers countless benefits that make it worth the effort.
Why Keep a Paper Journal?
With so many digital writing tools available, it may seem like a no-brainer to ditch your paper journal for a digital one. But keeping an offline writing journal offers several benefits that make traditional journal keeping the way to go for fiction and non-fiction writers.
Keeping a paper journal allows you to write distraction-free. Spell check errors and notifications from other apps can interrupt your flow and make it hard to focus on writing. There's nothing worse than getting an email or phone call in the middle of a brilliant journaling session. Keeping a paper journal can prevent this from happening.
Another reason to keep a paper journal is that it's easier to carry around than a laptop, and it doesn't require internet access. I like to go to the beach or the park for brainstorming sessions, besides my laptop tends to overheat in the sun. It's a pain to carry around, so for me, a paper writing journal is the best option.
You may not always have access to Wi-Fi, and by the time you get signed into your device, your brilliant idea may have escaped your mind. Keeping a paper journal nearby at all times ensures you'll always be ready and able to write.
Reasons to Keep a Writer's Journal
Whether you're a published author or new to book writing, you can use daily journal writing to help you complete your manuscript.
Capture Lightbulb Moments
As a writer and a creative, you know how easy it is to have light bulb moments when you aren't in the middle of a writing session. My best ideas usually come to me when I'm focused on another task, so keeping a writing journal allows me to capture those "aha" moments so I can incorporate them into my story later.
Even if you haven't started on your story yet, I highly recommend getting a writing journal so you can write down book ideas as they come to you. All your ideas might not make the final cut, but you'll always have something to start with if you keep a running list of potential plots and characters in your journal.
Use Your Journal for Brainstorming
Not all of your ideas can come from random inspiration. If you want to write a manuscript, you have to make time each day for intentional brainstorming. Brainstorming is the starting point for writing a book, but you'll need to have several brainstorming sessions throughout the writing process as you write new scenes, chapters, and characters.
Keeping your brainstorming notes in one place will allow you to quickly look back at your ideas, cull the duds, and flesh out the juicy bits that will propel your book along the path to completion. Your writing journal allows you to keep your brainstorming notes in one easy-to-access spot. Whether you prefer to write lists or draw mind maps, your journal allows you the flexibility to brainstorm in a way that's effective for you.
Create Your Characters and Plot
Your writing journal is an excellent place to create profiles of all your characters. If you are writing non-fiction, you can keep profiles of your book's key figures in your journal. Your characters are one of the most important aspects of your book, so use your journal to get to know them thoroughly. Talk to them, ask plenty of questions, and don't be afraid to go into detail. While everything in your journal won't make it into the book, you can use your journal entries for guidance and inspiration when you sit down and start writing your manuscript.
You can also develop your plot in your writing journal. Working out the basics of your story plot before you start penning your novel will help you avoid getting stuck. You need to make sure your plot sequence makes sense before you start your first draft, or else you may have to scrap it and start from square one. Fleshing out your plot in your writing journal beforehand allows you to avoid plot issues and write your first draft with confidence and a clear sense of direction.
Collecting Research and Tips
Collecting research is an integral part of writing fiction and non-fiction. Your writing journal is an excellent place to keep your research notes for your book. You can also use your writing journal to jot down tips that pertain to your craft and inspirational quotes. Tips and quotes can be useful when you are revising your draft or when you need a mental boost.
If you come across useful writing tips, don't depend on your brain to remember them. I get a lot of great writing tips from social media, but I don't remember to implement them unless I write them in my journal. The act of writing things down helps the information stick in your mind, and it will always be there in your writing journal for your reference if you can't remember it.
Which Journaling Style is Best?
Whether you want to write once a week or several times each day, there are many ways to go about keeping a writing journal. While a writing journal is usually kept separate from a stress journal or stream of consciousness diary, you can keep them together so that all your thoughts stay in one place.
Keeping your writing journal and your stress diary together can help you see connections between your own life and your story. Non-fiction writers may want to keep their stress journal or stress diary separate from their writing journal, as it can be distracting to have them together. Certain types of non-fiction, like memoirs and self-help books, may be easier to write with the help of your personal diary.
If writing down your thoughts, feelings, and daily happenings doesn't sound like your cup of tea, you will find that keeping a writing journal is much different than recording how you feel each day. I've always found it hard to keep up with a personal diary, but my writing journal practice allows me to focus and escape into my book project each day, and I find it to be more stress-relieving than regular journaling.
The format you use for your writing journal is entirely up to you. In my personal experience, long paragraphs rarely make it into my writing journal. Phrases, lists, concepts, mind maps, and ideas make up the majority of my journal, but feel free to use the format that works best for you.
How to Use Your Writer's Journal
Your writing journal exists to help you write your manuscript so you can publish it. Here's how you can journal your book to completion.
1. Find the Story
After a brainstorming session, take a look at what you've written down in your journal. You can ask yourself the following questions to pick the winning idea.
Which idea will resonate with my ideal reader?
Which idea will I enjoy writing about?
How far can I take this concept? Is there a story here?
2. Identify Your Target Reader
Your book has to be marketable, so you need to know who you are writing for before you begin the writing process. Even if your story's theme can resonate with a broad audience, having an ideal reader in mind will make it easier to flesh out the details. For example, romance is a theme that many people are interested in reading, but you shouldn't write your romance novel for everyone.
Whether you are writing for teenage girls who think they're in love or seasoned porcees who've recently had their hearts shattered, you need to know their goals, pain points, and problems before you start writing. You can develop an avatar of your ideal reader in your writing journal.
3. Outline Your Story or Non-Fiction Piece
Whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction, starting with an outline will help you stay organized when you write your first draft. Your outline can be as formal or informal as you like. You can also begin outlining each chapter. In your journal, you can answer the following questions about each chapter of your book.
What's in it for the reader?
Why does it matter?
How well does it flow with the chapters before and after it?
Once you've brainstormed, created a reader avatar, and outlined your story, you can begin writing your first draft. However, you can use your journal throughout the writing process to make notes, jot down ideas, and answer daily writing prompts, so be sure to keep it handy.
Document Your Writing Journey
If you are writing a book for the first time, it can be incredibly valuable to document your writing journey. Write down your wins, your frustrations, and mistakes during the process. Documenting your writing journey can reduce stress and provide you with valuable insights to look back on if you decide to write a second book.
Many famous authors document their thoughts and feelings throughout the writing process. Whether you track your journey for self-improvement or sentimental reasons, the act of chronicling your journey makes an excellent daily writing practice. You can document your writing journey in a separate journal or keep everything together in one place.
Set a Journaling Schedule
If you're like me, you're no stranger to procrastination, so it may be hard to keep up with your daily journal practice. The best way to start a writing journal and stick with it is to pick a specific time each day to write. Even if you can only dedicate five minutes to your writing journal, spending a small amount of time each day will help you make progress towards the goal of completing your book.
Writing first thing in the morning before checking email or attending to other responsibilities is thought by many authors and productivity experts to be the best time to write. But you should pick a time that works best for your schedule.
Set a Journaling Intention
If the thought of sitting down to a blank page each day feels intimidating, you can follow writing prompts or pick a specific thing to journal about. Maybe you want to develop your main character a bit more or work out a kink in your plot. Setting a clear goal for your journaling session will prevent you from getting discouraged and ensure that each session is productive.
Writing a book is no small feat, but with the help of your writing journal, you can inch closer to finishing your manuscript each day. Your writing journal provides a place for you to brainstorm, take notes, create characters, and outline your book. It serves as a platform for writing your book that will make the process easier and less intimidating. Fiction and non-fiction writers can both benefit from keeping a writing journal because it allows them to organize their thoughts, make connections, and think concepts through more thoroughly before jumping headfirst into draft writing.
Now It’s Your Turn
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