Friday, March 2, 2012

Starting a Writer's Journal

A journal is one of the best tools a writer can provide for themselves. And it’s so easy to start. You can use a hard bound notebook, a composition book from the local drug store, or a file in your computer. Or you could simply write on scraps of paper and toss them in an empty shoe box, though I wouldn’t advise that method.
The first thing to decide when you’re thinking about starting a writer’s journal is where you are most likely to use it. It’s important to keep it in a place that will draw your attention, such as beside your bed, your easy chair, or maybe in “start up” in your computer so that it will pop up when you start your computer.
If you’ve never kept a journal before, you might wonder what you’d record. How about story ideas for future projects, observations of scenes or people you come across in everyday life, or the progress made with current writing. It can be used to keep notes when you attend a writer’s conference or comments from your writer’s critique group. Recording dreams might lead to story idea. If you’re a poet, a line or two scribbled might lead to a new creation.
You read books, I’m sure. Use your journal for a book review. It’s for your eyes only, so expound on the book’s strengths and weaknesses. Record a quote you really liked or an example of badly written parts. Did it have too many adverbs or run on sentences? Give it your best critique.
Most people think they don’t have time for journaling. You might be surprised, if you give it a try. Take the first step. Write a line a day. Or a whole page on the weekend. After a month, go back and read what you’ve written. You might decide to add to it, or you might want to edit what you’ve written. Either way, it’s good practice. And months later I think you’ll be glad you started your journal.
I’ve been journaling since I was a teenager, and next time I’ll tell you about some of my experience.

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