A few weeks ago, I was a guest on Rachael Herron’s podcast How Do You Write.
It was a fun conversation during which I had a chance to nerd out about journaling and tarot and writing processes because that’s what I do. Pop over and give it a listen if you haven’t heard it already!
After that call, my thoughts turned toward goal setting and planning for 2019. Part of that planning involves me looking back through my writing journals from this year, taking note of what I have accomplished and deciding what projects I want to focus on in the new year. Which made me think that I should share this part of my process with my fellow word makers.
Keeping a journal specifically for writing has become the best and most useful tool in my writer’s toolbox.
Whether you use a cheap spiral notebook, loose leaf paper, and a binder, a beautifully bound journal, or your Evernote app, getting in the habit of keeping what really amounts to a writing log is one of the easiest ways to stay productive and keep yourself on track. I know that a lot of writers recommend this, and I’ll be the first to admit that it doesn’t work for everyone. Establishing a habit of any kind takes commitment, and sometimes that feels like added pressure on top of the writing itself, so feel free to skip it. But for those of you who are looking for a way to focus on your writing in a way that will help you discover your practice, here you go!
How to start your own writing journal.
First, make a short-term commitment. I’m sure you’ve all heard that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit, so that’s a good way to start. During those 21 days, set aside a time and place to set up each entry in this way.
- Title of story/article
- Projected word count
- Article topic or scene/chapter you’re writing that day (this can be a brief synopsis of two to three sentences)
- What points need to be made in this article? Or what needs to happen in this scene/chapter?
- Who is this article about? Who is in this scene/chapter?
Then close your journal and get to work!
Once you have completed your writing for the day, come back to your journal and ask yourself these questions.
- Did you meet your projected word count?
- How do you feel about what you wrote today?
- How do you feel about writing today? Was it hard? Easy? Fun?
After you write your twenty-first entry on the twenty-first day, reread your journal and write an end of month entry that sums up your 21 days of writing. In this entry, ask yourself these questions:
- How many words did you write? Was that more or less than the month prior? Do you want to set a projected word count goal for the month?
- Have you completed all of your writing projects? If yes, GREAT! If no, why not?
- Did your writing journal keep you on track?
- Will you continue to use your writing journal as a habit tracker to hack your process?
Keeping a writing journal is the best way to have a real inventory of your process over time. Before long, you will recognize patterns, identify the point in your book where you always feel blocked, and learn a way to get around it, or just keep a record that will be an amazing way to look back on your accomplishments for the year.
I know that the type of notebooks or programs we decide to use is an intensely personal decision. How-and-ever, I’ve designed a Daily Journal for you word makers, and I want to give you an opportunity to grab one up so that you can start your new year and your new daily writing journaling habit off right!