Maintaining a writing journal

Creative writing, like any art, comes from the soul.

Yes, it helps if we practice, we learn our craft, but at the end of the day it is our soul that pours out on the page…craft is but the medium. (Or at least it should be.)

For writers, it is important not only to write, but to keep track of their writing–both as it relates to their craft, and also their inner core, where all writing surfaces from.

To do this, it is often useful to keep a journal. A journal is most effective if updated daily, and this needs a lot of discipline. Some days writing in my journal is all that I have time to do, but I feel it is important that I write something in it everyday, even if it is just a sentence.

It is different from a diary, which is a life-journal (also a practice followed by some famous writers).

In my journal I write-

-my writing goals for the coming day/week/month/ year
-lessons I learnt in terms of craft from my writing practice or workshops
-details of which of my submissions got accepted or rejected (and my feelings about them)
-how I feel about writing and why I write

Not that I write on each of these topics everyday, and I do veer off on tangents.

 But over the past months I’ve been keeping this journal I’ve found that turning back the pages hold up a mirror to my face, and all my limitations and strengths become clearer than ever. I begin to understand which part of writing needs work, and what part of my life will become a sediment and one day give birth to new writing.

I imagine this sort of journal would be even more useful to those writing a novel, because it would help them chart the novel’s progress as they write it.

Do you keep a writing journal, or have you ever thought of keeping one?

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  1. Damyanti

    Rosalind, you put it so well. A journal is indeed a forgiving friend.

    Clarissa, I hear you. I suffered that earlier in my life. But now I feel secure enough to have my journal lying around.

    Loree, thanks for the visit and the comment. I do not always meet my daily date with the journal either 🙂

    Elizabeth, I enjoy it most times…only sometimes it becomes a chore.

  2. Loree Huebner

    I do keep a writing journal.

    I don't write in it everyday, but at least once a week.

    I keep ideas for characters and new words to use.

    Nice post.

  3. Clarissa Draper

    I consider keeping one almost every week but I worry about my family finding it. They are often so nosy and so sometimes I just keep it to myself.

  4. Rosalind Adam

    I've kept a writer's notebook/journal for many years but it's different to yours. I treat mine almost like a chat with a friend, noting down events from the day, writing ideas, hopes and regrets. Sometimes I don't write in it for days, occasionally longer, but it doesn't matter. It's one of those forgiving friends and it's always there for me when I need it again.