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Stories To Tell is a full service book publishing company for independent authors. We provide editing, design, publishing, and marketing of fiction and non-fiction. We specialize in sophisticated, unique illustrated book design.

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7 Ways to Use a Writer's Journal

Biff Barnes

Writing a book can be a complicated process. You have multiple elements to manage: Generating ideas, research, planning and organizing, as well as the actual writing. You are juggling a lot of ideas, details and tasks. Thoughts related to any of the things you’re working on occur at odd times and can be forgotten before you act upon them if you don’t have a tool to capture those odd thoughts. That’s why a lot of great writers keep journals.

Think of your writer’s journal as a project management system. Here are just a few of the ways you can use a writer’s journal:

  • Keep track of ideas. If you are working on a writing project, no matter whether you’re at the beginning stage of generating an outline or nearing a completed manuscript, you’ll have ideas you want to incorporate. A journal is a place to capture them.
  • You need a place for to-do lists of things to follow up on. Do you need to research a point for a scene in your book? Do you want to interview a person to refresh your memory about a time you want to include in your memoir? Jot it down in your journal.
  • How do you want to organize your book? Chronologically? Topically? A combination of both? Do you want to deal with an anecdote or a character in a sidebar rather than interrupting the narrative? Your journal is a great place to experiment with organizational plans.
  • Not sure of what a scene should look like? Try out possible versions in your journal to see what works best.
  • Want to sharpen your skills with setting or dialogue? Use writing exercises in your journal to practice.
  • Themes you may want to develop in your book often aren’t evident when you first begin the project. They emerge from reflections on your material as you work with it. Record those reflections in your journal.
  • What personal experiences have you had while researching your book? Sometimes those experiences will add to a family history or memoir by bringing past and present together. Record the details of the experiences in your journal so that they are available if you decide to include them.

For more ideas on using a writer’s journal visit the Writing Forward post 9 Journals Writing Tools and Resources