Did anyone else look at the picture at the top of this and think, hey I have lots of notebooks like that too?
Did you look at it and wonder where I got one because you have to have it?
Don’t feel bad. I do it too. (Also the answer to that question is most likely the Disney Store or Target.) I don’t know a single [aspiring] writer out there that doesn’t idolize their Writer’s Notebook. It’s an essential to have with you for a number of reasons, including (but surely not limited to):
- Ideas spring up everywhere, often in the most unexpected place at the most unexpected time. I got a story idea taking shuttle this weekend! (And wouldn’t you know I didn’t have my notebook)
- You think of something to add to what you’re currently working on, so you need a place to jot it down so you don’t forget! (Except you most likely will forget to check the notebook where you wrote down the thing that you didn’t want to forget)
- You absolutely currently despise whatever you’re currently working on, so you start brainstorming the next project that is ten times better than what you are currently working on.
- Journaling (also known as bitching).
And so on and so on. Some of these things even require their own notebook. For example, I have a separate notebook for future ideas than where I brainstorm whatever I’m currently working on. This often becomes an issue when the ideas in Future Idea Notebook become ideas that I am currently working on. Do I buy a new Future Idea Notebook and make this one my Current Idea Notebook? Do I transfer everything for this idea from Future Idea Notebook to Current Idea Notebook?
Or do I just do everything on OneNote?
As you can see, this is a very tedious aspect of writing that can often actually add additional stress, especially if you’re Type A and OCD about journals and notebooks like me. However, there are so many benefits to having one, that I cannot stress enough how important it is that you go out and buy one (or ten) right now.
Well, maybe finish reading this first, leave a comment, tell a friend, and then go buy them.
I have yet to be in a single writing class, writing workshop, or author meet and greet where the almighty Writing Journal did not come up. The best part about it, is, like most aspects of writing, there really isn’t a wrong way to use it. I admire people who make Bullet Journals, and wish that I was crafty enough to do it. But, any of my friends who have done Arts and Crafts with me will let you know that I am most definitely not crafty enough.
Other people will write whole short stories or poems in their journals. I’ve tried this, but I am physically incapable of writing a short story, except the two that you can find on this website. And I will spare you the agony of sharing the… “poems” I wrote when I was 18 because I would like you to come back next week.
Some people use it as simply a journal. Maybe not in the same sense that Tom Riddle did… hopefully not at all in the same sense that Tom Riddle did. But if I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard a billion and half times: the best stories are ones that come from your own experiences. Now, as a fantasy writer, I don’t get much inspiration as far as plot from my day-to-day life, however, people are fascinating! Sometimes I see behaviors from people that I couldn’t make up if I tried. So, sometimes, I jot down mannerisms or behaviors in my journal, and you bet your ass they’ll show up eventually in my stories. I do have an actual Dear Diary journal that I kept long, long ago that I do sometimes look through if I’m thinking about stories or ideas. You never know when something will come up!
A word of warning about consulting old journals: Sometimes you will read it and say “Did I really like that guy? Did I actually do that? My God I was obnoxious. Am I still this obnoxious?” And that just isn’t a good time. (And no, I will not be providing examples of these feelings. Just take my word for it.)
There are a lot of different ways to set up and organize writing journals. They are there to help you and no one else. They can sometimes be tedious, and it can sometimes feel like you are doing a whole lot of work for nothing. But I promise you (with all my vast experience), it helps. One day all those ideas are going to come together, and you might even turn it into a Story Bible! (I would say you might even turn it into a published piece, but I haven’t gotten there yet, so stay tuned!)
What do you use your Writing Journal for? How many do you have, and how many of those are actually completely blank? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to tell a friend!