For me, a journal, or diary if you prefer, is simply my way of de-cluttering my brain. Personally, I find scribbling down my thoughts at the end of the day helps cleanse my mind before I go to sleep. I’m an insomniac, and for some reason, jotting down a page of notes does help ease the problem.
I hadn’t kept a journal for about four years – I think it’s because once I’d published my first novel, I wanted to concentrate on my writing, and spent most nights scribbling into a notebook before switching the light off.
Except that writing a novel, or making notes about a story, isn’t the same as writing a journal.
For one, you’re writing to a designated storyline – whether you’re a plotter or a pantser, you’re on a predefined path.
With journaling, it’s more akin to free-form writing – you’re simply emptying your mind of unnecessary stuff, so that you can get on with the more important things.
Tim Ferris recently wrote an article on his blog The Four Hour Work Week, entitled What My Morning Journal Looks Like and rather graciously provided a very personal insight into his journal habit. The article included a photograph of that morning’s journal page, which he writes every morning before starting his working day. Ferris cites the following benefit he’s found through keeping his journal: ‘Morning pages don’t need to solve your problems, they simply need to get them out of your head’.
It does show that everyone is different though, so you’ll probably benefit from keeping a journal if you find a time to do so that suits you best. Don’t worry about what other people are doing – keeping a journal is a very personal thing, and not meant to be shared, so you’re free to warble on about anything you want!
You’ll need total respect from those around you, too. I know my other half would never venture into my journal to read my personal thoughts – it holds the same fear as when he’s looking for some cash and I tell him ‘help yourself – it’s in my purse’. He’s never going to go there!
Some other things to bear in mind, if you’re still a little unconvinced:
So, if you haven’t tried keeping a journal for a while, and you’re finding that extraneous thoughts are preventing you from writing when you should be, maybe it’s time to go back to it – or, if you’ve never tried it before, why not give it a go?
After all, it’s another great excuse to treat yourself to some new stationery too…
Do you keep a journal? Are you like me and going back to writing a daily journal after a break? What benefits have you discovered? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear from you!
© Rachel Amphlett, 2015
Where on earth do you begin?
Don’t panic, for a start. Next, have a look at some of the writing advice guides on the market. These are perfect for any writer, regardless of experience, and particularly for those not able to afford to join a writing centre or courses.
Listed below are some of the books about the writing business that I’ve discovered over the past couple of years, and I continue to dip into these because they’re all written in such a great, no-nonsense way that I expect to have these in my ‘go to’ library for quite some time!
You can click on the images below to access the Amazon pages for these recommendations:
Chuck Sambuchino - Create Your Writer Platform
On the social media side of things, Sambuchino takes you through the basics of such platforms as Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest, as well as showcasing some of the tricks involved in using these.
In addition, there are heaps of detailed case studies in the book, from authors of all different backgrounds – from fiction, memoir and non-fiction (including cookery, health and education), so there is something for all writers here.
Joanna Penn – Business for Authors: How To Be An Author Entrepreneur
The book is broken down into logical sections and the author conveys the information in such a way that you don’t feel swamped by it all, but are left feeling rather inspired instead – perfect!
If you’re starting out, I think this is a great book to read because once you’ve completed your current project, you’re going to be ahead of the game when it comes to making the most of that opportunity.
Sean Platt, Johnny B Truant and David Wright – Write. Publish. Repeat.
Except it’s more than that, because they drum into you the importance of having writing projects lined up at different stages too. Trust me, Write. Publish. Repeat. is a keeper.
There you go – a clutch of books to help fire you up about your writing this year. Hopefully the above will go some way to help your realise your writing resolutions for 2015 - I’d love to hear from you to know how you’re getting on!
© Rachel Amphlett
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