Benefits of a Journal

Journal 2 Feb 2005 pg 2
Journal 2 Feb 2005 pg 2 (Photo credit: Terry Bain)

I started a stream-of-consciousness journal as a form of therapy and heightened self-awareness but soon saw improvement in my writing. I began keeping a typed journal. At first, I wrote maybe 20 pages a month. I didn’t know what to write. A year later I write freely and my page count last month was 120+. This included random thoughts, what was happening during my day, how I felt and what I thought about that, blog posts, book and character ideas, and self-motivation, just to name a few topics. But back to how a stream-of-consciousness journal can help your  writing.

  • Speed: The more often you write, the faster you will get. It may not pay off right away but think in terms of months and years.

  • Fluidity: You will find that you write with fewer pauses, less thinking “what should come next”, because you are training your mind to write without hesitation

  • Voice: I found my writing voice in my stream-of-consciousness journal. If you are struggling with this topic, look to where you write most naturally and with the fewest inhibitions. That is where you will find your voice.

  • Twists and turns: You can use your journal to brainstorm alternative paths the action in a scene can take. Sometimes writing down the ideas instead of just thinking them can make all the difference.

  • Characters: Once your thoughts begin to flow, you’ll find yourself writing about whatever is on your mind – like the people around you and your characters. You find yourself writing background and attitudes for those people that you didn’t realize you knew. And your knowledge deepens.

  • Theme: Looking at my journal showed me what I often wrote about, what were my preoccupations. I realized that the same beliefs and attitudes were imbedded in my books. You can develop these into themes.

  • Philosophy: This is somewhat tied to theme but goes a bit further. After a while, you find yourself asking yourself why you write. The answers you come up with are part of your personal writing philosophy.

  • Encouragement: When you find it difficult to get around to your WIP, you can remind yourself why you write. What you get and give by writing. What you hope to accomplish. You can be your own cheerleader or bully (whatever works) and be your own motivator.

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