10 Ways Journaling Grows Our (Writing) Craft

Cynthia Herron Writing 4 Comments

Photo Credit: Walt Stoneburner/Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Walt Stoneburner/Creative Commons

Like many teenage girls I kept a diary. It was a safe place I could record all my private thoughts.

Even then, I treasured quiet time with paper and pen. I still do. “Journaling” is something I can do without judgment from the outside world. I can enter that comfort zone and lose myself in thoughts and words and sentences.

Diaries and journals exist because everyone needs a creative outlet to express themselves. Journals have gained popularity because they’re the “in thing.”

Who doesn’t like the aesthetics of a leather-bound treasure–or even a colorful notebook–within their hands? The real treasure being the life we breathe into once empty pages.

Obviously, for writers, journaling forces us to write. It’s the heartbeat we give to a blank canvas. And it’s a way to provide structure to an out-of-control day.

Journal writing can be both a pleasurable pastime and a learning experience.

 

Here are 10 ways journaling can grow our writing craft:

 

1.  Journaling forces us to get personal. Recording our thoughts causes us to examine the deeper things in life. Our motivations, desires, and eccentricities. When we look inward, it makes us think about how we react to the world around us, but it also encourages us to think in new and different ways.

 

2.  Daily writing improves our skill. Free-writing is a great way to exercise our mind. Concentrated focus improves our grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. All necessary ingredients in a killer manuscript.

 

3. Through journaling we develop a habit. A pattern of sitting down on a regular basis and cranking out words. Something that’s important, of course, in developing a story.

 

4. It holds us accountable. Putting our personal thoughts on paper helps us to problem-solve and visualize positive outcomes. Another key player in plotting our novels.

 

5. Journaling reduces stress. Ditching the cache of words from our finite brains helps us “let go.” Often, once we transfer our thoughts (or troubles) to paper, we think more creatively. Seeing our dilemmas in black and white can help with decision-making, as well as put into context the reality of a “problem” versus a “perceived threat.”

 

6. It helps us flesh out story ideas. How many times does something from our day or perhaps a life event show up in our stories? Pretty regularly, I bet! And you know, truth is stranger than fiction.

 

7.  It inspires change. Reviewing something in our journals we wrote a year ago allows us to see where we’ve been and how far we’ve come. If we’ve let certain goals languish, our previous thoughts can propel us forward. Sometimes our own words are just what we need to light a fire under us.

 

8. It builds confidence. We develop resolve. We muster the mettle to move forward. We may not know how our stories end yet, but we’re choosing to be active participants.

 

9. It flexes our blogging muscles. Again, writing on a regular basis enhances our craft. Journaling leads to better blogging. Not only that, we can sift through the pages of our journals and often come up with dozens of blog ideas from just a few journal entries.

 

10. It makes us feel important. Really. Words have power. When we care enough to record something that’s meaningful to us, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Our journals are our private thoughts. It’s the sense we make of our personal meanderings that’s the game-changer.

 

***

Do you keep a diary or journal?

Reader or writer, how do you measure personal growth?

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Photo Credit: Walt Stoneburner/Creative Commons

Blessings Always, 

Comments 4

  1. Melissa Tagg

    I did keep a journal as a kid, but I don’t so much anymore. Every once in awhile I do have seasons when I keep a prayer journal…and I really like that. But I love your 10 points here…so very true. You’re right, it’s such a great way of remembering where we’ve been and seeing where we’re going and realizing how we’ve grown.

  2. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    I used to journal – but no more, specifically because it DID out me in touch with my innermost self.

    I’ve learned over the years that life is about responsibility, not rights. Yesterday I heard a sermon by Bill Purvis, and he said that he would not change one thing about the life God had him walk through because it all developed him.

    I would put it differently. I would not change because it brought me to a place where I can help my wife through a grievous loss, and where I can care patiently for the dogs in our sanctuary. The ‘me’ is subsumed in service.

    If there’s anything left over for my personal dreams, well and good. But I’m not the important part of the equation. To paraphrase St. Francis, I’m a channel. Nothing more.

    For accountability – I blog. The blog is out there, and there is a form of public accountability to which one can be held.

  3. Post
    Author
    Cynthia Herron

    Andrew, private journaling does force us to re-evaluate and it can be uncomfortable, but rewarding. Good point about the accountability factor in blogging. That, too, grows us as writers.

  4. Post
    Author
    Cynthia Herron

    Melissa, I have a separate prayer journal, too. In that one, I take a different approach–as if I’m sitting down chatting with Jesus regarding the needs and burdens of loved ones. In other words, I suppose my prayer journal is more “others” focused, than “me” focused.

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