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3 Reasons Why Writers Should Keep A Journal

I do a lot of courses and talks, plus I get lots of emails, tweets and messages from writers … A popular question is, “Where do you get your ideas from?” 

My answer: EVERYWHERE! But my life is busy, so I keep a journal to record various fleeting thoughts, observations and important elements of my day. That’s why I thought this post from Tess is great advice for writers … Enjoy!


To many of us, journals seem like a thing of the past. We have a tendency to treat the art of keeping a journal as something that’s no longer relevant to our lifestyles. But get this: if you are a writer, doing this could potentially be detrimental to you!

Many classic authors and noteworthy historical figures kept journals, not merely because that was common practice in their time, but because keeping a journal can lead to an enormous amount of intellectual benefits … What’s more, it may actually lead you down the path to becoming a better writer.

Here’s 3 great reasons for writers to keep a journal:

1) To give your Vocabulary a work out

If you commit yourself to writing about your life and thoughts on a daily basis, you’re going to notice a lot of repetitive themes. You likely will use specific nouns or adjectives over and over again, because these are your everyday associations. Reading over your journal can help you pinpoint the areas in which your vocabulary is lacking. After work, your entries may frequently read that you’re “very tired”, and you may notice you’re not souping up your adjectives as well as you could. Challenge yourself to raise the bar when it comes to your vocabulary, and learn to weed out overused words and terms. MORE: 10 Common Errors In Your Writing You Need To Fix Right Now

2) Become a Better Storyteller

Let’s say that today, you made breakfast and coffee, went back to sleep for an hour, woke up, got dressed, went to the grocery store, got home, put your food away, went to the gym, worked out, had a shower, grabbed lunch, met your friends for coffee, came home, had a frozen meal for dinner, watched TV for a few hours, and went to sleep.

That’s a pretty plain day. Nothing noteworthy or exciting happened and it mirrors a normal day off for most of us. This is not the kind of day you can’t wait to tell everyone about, and writing it will seem tedious and boring. It may not even seem worth journaling, but you should journal it. The key is to utilize your mundane day as a writing challenge.

If you can take the most boring account of your day and turn it into something that is fun to write and enjoyable to read, this is going to improve your storytelling abilities. Mention the waiter’s cocky smile and the tartness of your salad dressing. Write about your friends as though you are characterizing them for a reader. Give your internal dialogue as you’re browsing the grocery store. These things will help you create more believable and dimensional fictional characters and assist you in creating descriptions of scenes and events that will captivate your readers. MORE: Give Them What They Want … And Get What YOU Want

3) Banish Writer’s Block

If you’ve ever found yourself hitting a brick wall when telling your story, you understand how frustrating that can be. You may have set clearly defined goals for yourself in terms of how much you want to write within a certain time period, and these constraints can suck you dry of inspiration. Keeping a journal will get you in the habit of writing every day, so your writing muscles will stay warm and flexible.

You may be familiar with the old author’s adage, “write what you know.” That’s advice that still rings true. If you ever have trouble creating or progressing through plot points, you have your own journal to fall back on. If a scenario that happened in your life will provide you with the ability to create character development, just draw it up from your own experience and embellish it with details that better fit the scape of your story. Recalling the outcomes of your real life conversations and decisions will help you add extra layers of believability to your fiction, creating an authentic and genuine feel that will keep your readers actively invested. MORE: How to Deal With Writers’ Block: Top 6 DON’Ts

Tess PajaronBIO: With a background in Business Administration and Management, Tess Pajaron currently works at Open Colleges, Australia’s leading online educator. She covers stories in online learning, creativity and productivity hacks.

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1 thought on “3 Reasons Why Writers Should Keep A Journal”

  1. I always make sure to keep a journal beside my bed, because when I’m drifting off is when I have some of my best ideas, like a great story concept, or a killer piece of dialogue. And I’m way too tired to boot up my laptop, so I open up the journal, and scribble down the thoughts.

    Sometimes I’m half asleep when I write the stuff down, so it makes no sense when I read it in the morning, but it’s still a very useful thing to have.

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