Journaling has been the leader of the “self-care movement”, just behind maybe yoga or meditation. Writing a journal helps not only to help our emotional and mental well-being but also helps us become better writers.
Benefits of journaling for writers
“I spend most of my day writing and the last thing I want to do after my working hours is write.” Yes, I can hear you say that.
I am not making these things up. Here are eight benefits of journaling for writers.
1) Cultivates the habit of writing regularly
Even though journaling is an informal mode of writing, it gets you started. What better way to start a day or end one whichever you prefer, by churning out a few hundred words on a paper?
It is well known that famous writers like Virginia Woolf, R W Emerson, and Anaïs Nin swore by their regular journaling or diary habits.
In fact, one of my favorite writers Slyvia Plath kept her diary since she was eleven years old and often used it as a tool to “warm-up” her formal writing.
2) Get creative
The freewriting form of journaling helps to break the rules and pressure of formal and result-oriented writing.
If you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you.Madeleine L’Engle of A Wrinkle in Time
Just let yourself loose and just write whatever you want to share with, with no judgment. You can even add poems or haikus if your mood fancies.
3) Record ideas on your journal
You have no idea when the metaphorical idea bulb might switch on. But when they do, you should not be caught unprepared.
I often use my journal as a place to dump my ideas for future posts. Of course, it can be a digital diary, like I have, or a physical notebook.
Either way, just pouring those somewhere before they permanently vanish into thin air is a good way to ensure you have a repository and never having to get caught thinking about what to write about.
4) Slay the writer’s block
That brings me up to my next point.
As writers, we are constantly looking for ways to better our craft. Yet, we know that the only way to become a better writer is to write more.
Journaling would keep your writer’s block away because you are writing regularly. And you have a repository of ideas or prompts to go back to if you ever get stuck.
Writing a journal can offer a way to switch your style by writing from what you do for a living, say being a website content writer or a novelist, and ensures you have a variety to choose from.
5) Get into your characters’ head
Whether you are working on your next crime thriller or a witty play, journaling can help you get into your characters’ heads and discover their voice.
Developing their personality and eccentricity would make their characters more interesting and help you understand their motivations for what they do.
There are several sassy dialogues that I have written in my journal, that I might someday use in my book in the not so near future.
6) Research the details
I write quite a bit of business articles and white papers and I do a lot of research and collect data. Guess where I write them down, so that they will be available when I need them?
Yes, on my digital notebook/journal! You can do this even on a Google Doc.
Even if you are in the business of writing fiction, you will need details about places, history, or even famous people. Overprepare than the opposite is my motto.
7) Challenge your self-doubt
Artists often suffer the case of self-doubt, and a writer is no stranger to that as well.
But writing a journal can help you tackle the signs of self-doubt because you getting some writing done each day.
Related: Self Doubts: How To Overcome The Impostor Syndrome
And just a flash-through of how much you have written down day after day will give you the booster of confidence you need.
Even Nobel laureate Steinbeck had his moments of doubts. But he trudged through it with the help of his diary, which was eventually published under the name Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath.
In writing, habit seems to be a much stronger force than either willpower or inspiration. Consequently, there must be some little quality of fierceness until the habit pattern of a certain number of words is established. There is no possibility, in me at least, of saying, “I’ll do it if I feel like it.” One never feels like waking day after day. In fact, given the smallest excuse, one will not work at all. The rest is nonsense. Perhaps there are people who can work that way, but I cannot. I must get my words down every day whether they are any good or not.John Steinbeck, Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath.
8) Up your self-care game
Writing a journal can often help us to stop and reflect on our actions and intentions. Journaling can also help you unbury your emotions and dump your anxieties and fears. It clears your mind and improves your mood drastically.
It even can help you understand your triggers and help to avoid or tackle them by identifying the pattern.
A happier mind is a sharper mind and helps to improve your writing craft, doesn’t it?
Journaling may not be for everyone. There are so many benefits of journaling, especially for writers. But it is not the only way to improve your writing or practice self-care.
Many writers swear by writing a journal and so many more who love journaling as a self-care practice. But some people can’t get into it or keep up with the journaling habit.
So do what works for you, do not add in more pressure than it already is!
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- How do you manage your writing slump? (& ten tips to survive)
- Plot holes: Watch out for these inconsistencies! Part 2
- 8 common grammar mistakes to avoid while writing
- Feeling Overwhelmed With Work? – Things To Help You Out
Do you like writing a journal? Or have you given up journaling because of the pressure? What are your methods to become a better writer? Let us chat.