Keeping A Writer’s Journal



A writer’s journal can be an essential tool for any writer, at any stage, writing in any genre.

The Journal

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

  1. Capture or explore ideas
  2. Jot down factual research
  3. Get to know your characters better
  4. Work out kinks in a plot line
  5. Scribble new ideas that you may or may not use for future works
  6. Notes about improving your writing craft
  7. Inspirational writing quotes
  8. Record of your growth as a writer
  9. Gain awareness of which writing techniques work for you and which don’t
  10. Find your voice
  11. 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.


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4 thoughts on “Keeping A Writer’s Journal

  1. I have so many half written in writers notebooks it is not funny. Plus a binder system and computer folder. I just pick and choose and add and color and haul stationary untill I need it and then have fun writing and organzing half the stuff that gets pocketed. At the moment my main writers journal is a moleskine looking one but its a different brand called typo. Has the same purpose though, a pocket at the back, leather, binding and keeps it all in one place. I would love to hear more ideas for writing and writers journals.

  2. Dolly,
    I always appreciate a list of journal writing benefits and I love your writing focus. My favorites are discovering the techniques of writing that work for you, capturing ideas and using it as a creative soundboard. I also appreciate your organizational strategy to keep things manageable and easy to find. Journal writing is so custom to fit any purpose; I just love that!

    I have chosen your post, Keeping A Writer’s Journal, for the #JournalChat Pick of the Day on 1/21/13 for all things journaling on Twitter; a link will be posted on the social networks, on my blog and website Refresh with Dawn Herring, and in my weekly Refresh Journal:

    #JournalChat Live is every Thursday, 5 EST/2 PST, for all things journaling on Twitter; our topic this week is Your Journaling: A Personal Perception.

    Thanks again for the writing focus on journaling.

    Be refreshed,
    Dawn Herring
    Host of #JournalChat Live and Links Edition on Twitter
    Author of The Birthday Wall: Create a Collage to Celebrate Your Child

  3. Tennille,

    I hear you! I used to do the same, but for last couple of years, I made a conscious effort to be more organised, keep writing journals only, and stop writing in all other random notebooks or on loose leaves of paper.

    I will keep your comment in mind, and do more posts about writing journals.

  4. Dawn,

    Yes the custom fit of journaling is what makes it so valuable, and suitable for absolutely everyone.

    Thanks for including this in journalchat.

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