A Guest Post This week: How Journaling Can Be Used to Boost Your Creative Writing

by Desiree Villena 
desiree.j.villena@gmail.com

Ways to “manifest your dream life” can be found all over the internet, but there’s definitely some truth to the idea that clearly defining your goals will help you get out and achieve them. For writers, journaling can also be a great way to keep track of ideas or deadlines, which can prove crucial in the journey to self-publishing or getting a book deal!

Perhaps even more crucially, we writers all face the dreaded prospect of writer’s block every now and then. Luckily, there are a whole host of ways journaling can be used to boost creativity and help you finish that manuscript you may or may not have been avoiding for a little too long. Without further ado, here are five reasons to take up journaling as a creative writer!

1. To stay organized

First and foremost, you can use your journal to make to-do lists. This way you won’t have to store them in your head, which can help preserve brainpower for creative writing projects. It might sound silly, but you’ll be amazed how much more productive you can be when you’re not worrying about logistical issues and can focus on “deeper” work!

Journaling, and bullet journaling specifically, can be used to keep track of your deadlines, ideas, and upcoming tasks. Once this becomes second nature, you’ll find yourself worrying much less about what’s coming up next or what you might have missed — leaving more energy to stay focused on the present and actually writing your book.

2. To put yourself in the best headspace

Journaling can be viewed as a form of meditation and has been proven to provide great mental health benefits, ranging from a better mood to an improved memory. It’s just one of many ways to take care of yourself when you’re under any kind of stress or pressure, which is often the case when writing a book. Doing what you can to take care of your mind and body will put you in a good mental space for writing, helping you unlock your creativity.

Testing other habits around your journaling can also help you find the best conditions for you to write in. You might explore whether you prefer writing in the morning or the evening, or if you like cozying up on your own couch vs. using a coffee shop as a designated workspace. Trying these first with your journaling practice will make it smooth sailing when you want to get into the right headspace for any of your other creative writing projects.

3. To make writing a consistent practice

Journaling daily will automatically make writing a consistent practice, which in turn will help you write faster and to a higher standard. In the short term, setting the intention of writing every day should provide a motivation boost and get those creative juices flowing. In the longer term, a consistent writing practice will help you refine your voice and create a style that is unique to you. Once you’ve established this, you’ll find it much easier to get into your writing zone.

It’ll also help you get used to writing with complete freedom and without censoring yourself, allowing you to explore any thoughts or feelings that may arise. This is vital to escaping writer’s block, as you’ll feel more comfortable writing about any ideas you have rather than filtering out the ones that don’t feel “good enough” at first glance.

4. To define your goals and make decisions

If you’ve reached a stage where you’re looking to publish your book, journaling can allow you to work through all of the decisions you’ll be making. Defining your big-picture goals in your journal, as mentioned, can help you actualize them.

Or, to back up a little bit, you can use your journal to gather your thoughts on your story itself. This may be especially useful if you’re neck-deep in your plot but aren’t sure what should happen next, or what the ending should be! You can use your journal to explore various paths and figure out what would work best for the story you’re trying to tell. And if you get a little lost while writing, you’ll have this handy roadmap to help get yourself back on track.

5. To have a little fun!

Though journaling is great for staying organized and building good habits, don’t forget to also use it as a space for inspiration and experimentation! For example, if you’re writing a children’s book, you might read some of the best children’s books that are already out there and track your opinions. What did you like? What didn’t work so well? What would you like to implement in your own work?

Remember, journaling doesn’t have to take the stereotypical style of long-form daily diary entries, like those of Anne Frank or Samuel Pepys. You could use writing prompts or write gratitude lists, or even draw doodles to illustrate your day. You could even try out new styles of writing with no external pressure — give poetry a go, or try and write some of your dialogue like a screenplay! If it helps, you can think of your journal as a book of rough drafts. Write in the ways you’ve been scared to try out before; no one else will see it if you don’t want to share it!

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