Did you know that daily journals can play a major role in helping you reach your writing goals? Putting pen to paper may not feel like an efficient way to accomplish your writing dream, but in reality, journaling is a long-loved art that can contribute to mental clarity and streamlined goals.
In this article, I explain what daily journals are and specific steps so you know how to use them effectively. That said, you may feel tempted to skip this article as various thoughts come to mind:
- Writing takes too long. I can type much faster than I can write.
- My handwriting is terrible. Why bother using daily journals?
- Journaling is old school. I’ll use an app on my smartphone.
Stay with me for just a few minutes, and consider the following answers. You may be surprised how much committing to a daily journal can aid your writing success!
Table of Contents
What Are Daily Journals For Authors?
Daily journals, in reference to writers, are a way to forgo the stress of plotting your next book and simply free-write. Journals have been around for centuries and used for a variety of purposes:
- Tracking expeditions across America in its early years
- Collecting daily activities over the long term
- Processing thoughts, feelings, and emotions
For authors, daily journals can help you free up mental space, overcome writer’s block, and bring back the original joy of writing.
Of course, just like there are many genres and sub-genres authors choose to write in, there are many ways to use daily journals to aid you in your success. So how do you use daily journals effectively and what are some steps you can take today?
How To Use Them Effectively
Like any new hobby, learning how to journal on a regular basis takes time and commitment. We’ve all heard the varying lengths of time it takes to solidify a habit. But regardless, simply the process of committing to journal for a short amount of time can work wonders.
Are you serious about pursuing your writing dreams and eager to take all the writing tips you can find? If you’re ready to a new-to-you strategy, let’s jump into the three ways you can use daily journals well.
#1 – Proactively Free Your Mental Space
Do you ever feel that the jumble of thoughts in your mind keeps you from thinking clearly? Especially when writing, keeping every plot point, character personality, and setting top-of-mind can be extremely difficult.
Daily journals help you combat the chaos of living in a fast-paced, digitally focused, multi-tasking culture.
Our mental space is one of our most valuable resources. When our thoughts are jumbled it’s difficult to focus on daily tasks. When our minds are clear our efficiency jumps.
When you decide to write in a daily journal, you may first want to use the empty page to empty your mind. Like creating a to-do list can bring calmness to an otherwise busy schedule, jotting down your thoughts can clear your head. Choosing to use daily journals to free your mental space has many pros:
- It’s cost effective
- It’s self-curated
- Invest three minutes or thirty, whatever fits your schedule!
- It’s judgment free
- Unlike your work-in-progress, no one needs to see your daily journals
Next up, use daily journals to help you move forward in your story.
#2 – Overcome Writer’s Block
Whether writer’s block is a real issue or simply an excuse is besides the point. Whatever we want to term that feeling of being stumped in our writing, daily journals can help us move forward.
As writers, it can be difficult to continue a chapter when you’re not sure which direction to take. You don’t want to aimlessly add words that you’ll only delete later. A journal allows you the option of trying many different roads without ever committing to one.
Simply open your journal and begin writing about the scene you’re stuck on. Consider using the following writing prompts to help get you going:
- What purpose does this scene add to my story?
- What is the goal of this scene and why am I struggling to reach it?
- Is there an outside character or circumstance that could help?
- Are my characters acting in alignment with who they are or out of character simply to help the story?
As you write, you may enter a flow state and fully immerse yourself in the activity. Keep writing. See what answers you find as you allow your stream of consciousness to flow, unhindered.
#3 – Fall In Love With Writing (again!)
Why did you begin writing? What caused you to fall in love with this specific art form? And where did it become a task you “had” to check off the list?
We each have our daily writing goals, but daily journals can help those goals come alive. When you put your favorite pen to paper, you give yourself the freedom to write whatever you want. You can break writing rules or follow them—it doesn’t matter.
The purpose of daily journals is to simply write. As you face your computer screen, it’s easy to feel like you face your arch enemy. Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but sometimes it’s a fight to reach that daily word count goal.
When you choose to hand write on paper, your long term goals flee. Now your focus centers on writing for the sake of writing. There’s power in starting at the foundation of pen and paper with nothing tracking your word count, misspellings, or attention grammar.
Dare to fall in love with writing the way the early writers did: Sitting at a desk, pen in hand, smelling the crisp scent of fresh paper.
Short Term Commitment For Long Term Success
The idea of clearing your head, beating writer’s block, and bringing back the love you first had for writing likely sounds amazing. Actually committing to try this new writing tip may feel like too small of a step. After all, how can something completely unrelated to finishing your manuscript bring success?
Short term commitments are frequent ingredients for later success. The steps you take today drastically impact where you end up in a year or two. Let's apply this thought process to your writing schedule.
Imagine sitting down to write with a daily goal of 1,000 words. You want to write a 50,000 word story and write only five days a week. If you write twenty days a month it will take you about two and a half months to meet your goal.
But what if you miss a day? Then two? Then one week something comes up and you can’t prioritize it. Now you’re seven thousand words behind. How will you catch up? Take small steps. Change your daily word count and over time, you can catch up.
The same principle applies for daily journaling. Clearing your head, overcoming writer’s block, and falling in love with writing on a regular basis are strong factors contributing to long term success. Never underestimate how drastically a small, daily habit can influence where you land in the not so distant future!