A writer’s journal can be an essential tool for any writer, at any stage, writing in any genre.
Depending on your lifestyle, it could either be a notebook, a binder, or a computer. Make it something that you can always keep with you.
I personally use a moleskine most of the time because I love the quality of their pages, sturdy covers, an elastic band around it to keep notes and things from falling out, and a back-pocket to keep more notes which I might have ended up scribbling somewhere else despite the best intentions to keep everything in one place.
Benefits of Keeping A Writer’s Journal
- Capture or explore ideas
- Jot down factual research
- Get to know your characters better
- Work out kinks in a plot line
- Scribble new ideas that you may or may not use for future works
- Notes about improving your writing craft
- Inspirational writing quotes
- Record of your growth as a writer
- Gain awareness of which writing techniques work for you and which don’t
- Find your voice
- Use it as your creative soundboard
How to Keep Your Writer’s Journal Organised
Basic organisation is necessary for a writer’s journal, otherwise it would be extremely time consuming and frustrating to find specific bits of information, especially once you’ve filled up several journals.
If you are using a binder, you can simply have dividers, and label each section – plot ideas, future project ideas, character notes, editing tips, new techniques learned, etc. Have as many categories as you like. It has to work for you.
If you are using a computer, just keep separate files, use Excel where you can use different tabs, use One Note, or you can even use online/e-journaling tools. There are also programmes specifically designed for writers such a y-writer or liquid story binder.
I keep two pages free for an index at the front of my writing journal. I keep the index by story titles, or if there isn’t a title then by character names.
You could, in theory, keep separate journals for separate books or for different types of writing, but the objective here is flexibility. I don’t know about you, but my mind doesn’t always obey me when I want to think about a specific project only. My mind often bombards me with ideas for things that have nothing to do with what I’m working on at any given moment, so it’s far easier to keep writing in one journal, and index things.
To make things even easier, besides having an index, I also title each new section clearly, usually in large letters, so just by flipping through it, I know what I am looking at.