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?
How journal-writing improves a writer’s craft (Click to Tweet)
10 top ways that journal-writing grows us (Click to Tweet)
Photo Credit: Walt Stoneburner/Creative Commons