10 Reasons to Keep a Writing Journal

in Articles On Writing

10 Reasons to keep a writing journal,

Journals, because of computers and typing everything we write, are really becoming a think of the past. That’s a shame. You can get so much out of writing a journal.

10. Ideas

As a writer there is nothing more frustrating than having a great idea 1 day and forgetting it the next. I hate it when that happens, you feel like one arm is too short for a few days. I used to write ideas on anything I had when I had the idea. Napkins, pieces of cardboard, anything that was handy at the time served to hold my ideas. Having a journal that you write in each day will help you keep those ideas. You always know where to look for them.

9. Sandbox

You need a place to be dangerous and adventurous in your writing. I once knew a writer who wrote a 25 page story just to find out that the point of view he had used didn’t work. He then had to write the story over again, in the end he came up with a completely different writing style than what he was used to. He told me because he was so frustrated in the rewrite he got daring. You don’t have to waste a 25 page story to do this. Use a journal. Write like you are of the opposite sex. Write like you are a small child. Make the vending machine talk. Write stupid things. It will give you a chance to do something different.

8. Spring Board

I have had 100s of little ideas in my journal grow into stories. You really never know how good an idea is until you are writing it. Use your journal to launch new ideas. You can develop the idea first. Write a paragraph or 2. If you don’t love it, you walk away. If you love it, it’s the next piece of writing you are working on.

It’s great for developing ideas for a novel too. If you are writing a novel, but you don’t want to taint the pages with something you know might not work, try it in your journal.

7. Seeing growth

One of the things I love most about writing a journal is looking back on what I wrote before and seeing how horrible it was! You can see real improvement over time in writing. I watch a lot of HGTV shows. I always love how they decorate the houses and tear out all the old décor. That décor, if you look back at past episodes was what used to be in style. It was good then, bad now. It reminds me of writing. No matter how good you write something now, it will seem bad later. Even if it has become a classic.

6. Writing to yourself

Something that is hard to do in any public forum, is write to yourself. If you are writing for an audience you write very different than when you write to or for yourself. I don’t think you should chase audiences in writing. It’s like chasing the tide. Find your honest voice, tone, and writing by writing to yourself.

5. Inspiration

Keep a journal, watching your writing grow, seeing progress, understanding the changes in your writing, are all part of inspiring yourself to write. Writing can be a little bit like a drug. The more you do it, the more you want it.

4. Good habit

This is the opposite of number 5. When you get discouraged, it’s an easy thing to give up writing. If you make writing a habit, you will write forever.

3. Practice

The more you write, the better you write. The more you write, the better you write.

2. Stress

Sometimes writing is what saves you. I know from experience that writing surely saved my life. There are a school of writers, mystics almost, that know and feel it in their bones that writing is the thing that keeps you alive. I’m one of them. When the really hard times in life come, I’ll be honest, the river of writing stops flowing. Your novel won’t say you, or the collection of poetry, generally, it’ll be what you think is nonsense, will be the thing that saves you.

1. More usable than you think…many have writing books based on

Going along with number 2, that thing you write in your journal that you think will never become anything, is usually the thing that you can’t stop writing and becomes the best thing you’ve ever written. Also 1000s of journals have been turned over into books. Those day to day accounts of life, those memoirs, many times, grow, out of our journals.

Keep a journal of writing. You’ll get more out of it than you think.


Richard Edwards has a BFA in Creative Writing and Journalism from Bowling Green State University and an M.S. in Education from the University of Akron. Managing editor of Drunk Duck, poetry editor for Prairie Margins, reporter for Miscellany, Akron Journal, Lorain Journal...check our About Us page for more. Also here is info on our On Classic Articles

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