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5 Tips For Writers On Keeping A Journal

5 Tips For Writers On Keeping A Journal


If you’re keeping a journal, here are some tips to help you capture the memories and emotions that make you an authentic, powerful, and present writer.

Some writers don’t keep a journal, but rather explore their emotions through the lives of their characters. Others keep notes on their day, their word count, and their routine, almost like a ship’s captain keeps a log.

For most of us, we just love writing and a journal is another excuse to put pen to paper. If you’re just writing about the banalities of your day, that’s also fine. When you look back, you’ll find something you can use. It could be a description, a funny incident, or a heart-breaking memory.

Sometimes, you will find yourself lamenting about your lack of progress or confessing your despair at an unruly character.

If you’re lucky, you’ll remember some of the perfect moments that made the past so special.

5 Tips For Writers On Keeping A Journal

Here are five tips for writers on keeping a journal, They will help get your started, and help you reconnect with and feed the secret creative spirit within you.

Don’t Censor Yourself

If there is one place you are allowed freedom, it is the pages of your journal – you can record anything without fear of it being read.

If you think about it, there is no audience to appease. You are the only other character in this mirror-world. You are, in fact, a curious combination of present self and a self-reflective you in a distant future.

Think about the obsessively dark pages of Arthur Fleck’s journal in the latest Joker movie, or the tragic innocence of Anne Frank’s unfinished diary.

The essential element in every journal should be authenticity. It’s you. It’s just you, actually, so be yourself.

Think Of Yourself As A Character

See yourself as part of a bigger narrative, but a narrative in which you will always have a limited and often unreliable view at any given time and on any given day. Keep in mind, you’re not writing a witness statement for the police – you’re free to write what you want.

“The point of my keeping a notebook has never been, nor is it now, to have an accurate factual record of what I have been doing or thinking,” says Joan Didion, the famous essayist. “That would be a different impulse entirely, an instinct for reality which I sometimes envy but do not possess.”

③ Explore The Senses

As we say at Writers Write, our writing is always lifted when we use the senses as much as possible. Don’t forget to put songs, old and new, that you’re listening to, down in your diary, rub the page with your favourite fragrance, and write about the restaurant you went to with friends and family.

“The house smelled musty and damp, and a little sweet, as if it were haunted by the ghosts of long-dead cookies.”  This is a quote from Neil Gaiman’s iconic American Gods. Don’t you just love how he captures the sense of smell?

Keep A Consistent Ritual

Consistency is important when it comes to journaling. If you think about it, ritual gives a task a sense of importance and nothing is more important than your life. If you can’t find time to write every day, carve out some time on the weekends.

“Whether you’re keeping a journal or writing as meditation, it’s the same thing,” says Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones. “What’s important is you’re having a relationship with your mind.”

Keep Mementos For Memories

Another way to enrich your journal is to add in a memento or two from those special occasions — maybe a stub of a train ticket, a pressed flower, or a crazy doodle your friend made on the back of an envelope.

“Watching a journal fill up and evolve is like seeing the pieces of a mosaic come together to form a whole,” says Keri Smith, the creator of Wreck This Journal. “All the pages take on different forms and colours and show different sides of a distinct personality.”

We hope you use these tips for writers on keeping a journal. Happy journaling.

LOOK: If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.

Anthony Ehlers by Anthony Ehlers

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