Updated: Jul 5
Journaling can sometimes get a bad rap. There are those who do not consider it to be "real writing". Personally, I think that anyone who puts their words on paper IS a real writer. And the benefits are astronomical. My own personal journaling practice is to write for 20 minutes every morning with my coffee.
Here's why I believe that journaling will make you a better writer:
You'll develop a practice of writing
If you want to write, then you have to make time to write. It sounds simple but this is often easier said than done. When you start journaling, you might experiment with different times of days, different modes of writing and different environments to write in. Once you find what feels right, you can make it a daily practice. If you can find 20 minutes everyday to curl up with a notebook and write, who knows what might happen!
You'll explore new ideas
When you put your pen to paper and write for 20 minutes without stopping, you will find a lot of thoughts and ideas just land on your page. New ideas somersault into curiosity which somersault into an exploration of possibility.
You'll sharpen your observation skills
When you write about what's happening around you, it's amazing how more clear your descriptions will be. I often like to challenge myself to journal using all of my senses. I describe my current environment, making sure to include sight, sounds, touch, taste and smell. Sometimes, I will spend the entire 20 minutes, going into great detail about an object or place. Once you become practiced in writing this way, it will translate to your other works.
Journaling will teach you to express emotions
It's hard to journal for 20 minutes a day without writing about how you feel. The description of your emotions will be raw and honest in your journal. You're not trying to sugar coat or exaggerate, you're just writing how you feel in that moment. Later when you are writing about how a character feels in your novel, you can draw on these real life examples.
Journaling allows you to practice without pressure
Sitting down to write the next best novel can be a bit intimidating. Sometimes it is easier to find time to journal because there is less pressure to produce something. At the end of your writing, you can just tuck it away knowing that nobody else will see it.
Journaling provides inspiration for future projects
Keep your old diaries and notebooks for inspiration. I like to go through them and highlight sections that have potential to go deeper. Sometimes it's just one line that grabs my attention. Next step: take these sections and put them on index cards that you can pull out when you need inspiration.