I'm always looking for ways to help make writing a book easier so when friend and fellow author, Rachael Lynn was telling me about the benefits of journaling, I was curious to learn more. In this week's blog post, I invited Rachael to share two styles of journaling and how they can help you as a writer along with a few other tips to get the most out of journaling for your book. Enjoy!
"Many great writers didn’t start out writing novels – they started by writing to themselves. Diary keeping, poetry writing and marking down critical emotional events as children is a habit that many a writer can remember.
But instead of going Dear Diary style, intentional journaling can be used to help you write your next book.
The key to journaling to help you write your book is actually to forget about your book all together. This practice is for you, to clear your mind only.
If you haven’t taken a break from writing your book, sometimes exactly what you need is to write something else.
Studies show that a regular journaling practice can help you manage anxiety, reduce stress, cope with depression, and improve your mood…
All of which, leads to greater creativity!
So let’s dive in with two styles of journaling and how they can help you:
Free writing is your stream-of-thoughts, no holds barred open page. A free-writing journaling session starts by writing any thoughts that come to mind on paper. As they come, you keep going in no particular order, sometimes making no sense whatsoever. Go for as long as you want, or at least a couple of pages, until your brain feels empty.
If you’re feeling stuck, Julia Cameron, author of The Artists Way (a guidebook for any creative) advises writing, “I have nothing to write….” Over and over again until the words flow.
Free writing is a great way to get out whatever is filling up your mind – tasks for the day, latest frustrations about your writer’s block, that dream you had, or the ideas you have for your next book while your current one isn’t finished yet. All of this frees up room in your head. Once that space is cleared, get ready for some new ideas to flow.
2) Prompt-Based Journaling
Similar to writers prompts or story starters, prompt-based journaling is when you pose a question to yourself and answer it. But instead of story starters, I recommend you focus on yourself, the author, and your emotions with these prompts.
Google and Pinterest are full of free prompt ideas, but here are some author-centric prompts you can use to get started:
1) What’s getting in the way of my creative space right now?
2) I’m afraid that:
3) The biggest fear I have about my career is _______ because _________
4) What are 3 small things I can do for myself today that re-energize me?
5) If I could write about anything, it would be:
6) My greatest dream is to be an author recognized for:
7) _______ is a writer who has inspired me greatly. How can I connect more to their essence, or learn more about how they worked?
Start off with any or all of these prompts and trust yourself to keep going. Transfer any of your ideas for your book that come through into a place you’ll remember them.
Other Tips To Get The Most Out of Journaling for your Book:
Be consistent: Give yourself 5 minutes every day to write something. You will start to look forward to this ‘you’ time where your creative juices flow.
Leave your editor mind out of it: Even more than your messy first drafts, spelling and sentence structure don’t matter here. No one, ever, will see this writing of yours (unless of course they become the basis for your great memoir!) Eliminate the habit of trying to be perfect and let words flow.
Be honest: don't hide what you think from the paper. When you can be honest about you, that same emotional honesty can make sense of the depth of your characters or the message you’re hoping to get across in your book.
Remember, journaling is a time-tested method of coping and creating. Give it a try – at minimum, you will feel less stressed and more understanding of yourself. At best – you will gain the clarity you need for the next step of your book. Either way is a win."
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