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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?

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Damyanti says:

    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.

  • I LOVE writing in my journal 🙂 Maybe that's why blogging seems so fun.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.