Recently I was chatting with a friend about keeping a writing journal. I’ve never been disciplined or practical enough to keep any kind of diary, but she made it sound so liberating and inspiring that I thought I might give it a try in 2019 – which means I might be asking for another giant notepad for Christmas. So what are the advantages?
- It’s a completely private space to write about anything, without any particular purpose – and best of all, without judgement! The only reader criticism you have to consider is your own. How amazing is that?
- You can use it for freestyle writing. If you find it difficult to get started each day, come up with some writing prompts, even if it’s just what you ate for breakfast and why. Once you’re warmed up, you can move on to your WIP.
- It’s a space to organise your thoughts and figure out your author voice – make a note of what subjects/genres interest you.
- It’s a place to store observations – dreams, story ideas, random snippets of conversations you’ve overheard, mannerisms you’ve noticed – all things you can use later in your writing.
- It’s a place to review books! All authors love reviews (hint, hint), but you can go into much more detail in a journal. Make notes of things you thought worked and didn’t work, as well as techniques you might want to try yourself.
- It’s a place to set out your writing goals and keep track of them. You can even schedule rewards for reaching word targets.
- It’s a good way to reduce stress, which makes it healthy too. Making lists of all the things we need to remember can be exhausting, but cathartic too. You can also record how you feel about your writing, but remember to balance the good with the bad. There are enough critics in the world – be your own cheerleader!
- It’s an excuse to go stationary shopping. Decorate your journal with post-its and colour code your pens. You know you want to!
So this month’s tip is to give journalling a try. If you give it up in February, at least you can still use the notepad for your novel.
That’s it from me this year. Have a very Happy Christmas and see you in 2019!
Jenni Fletcher writes historical romance novels for Mills & Boon and is a visiting tutor at Bishop Grosseteste University. She intends to eat her own bodyweight in cake this Christmas and her sixth book, The Viscount’s Veiled Lady, is out in January.