Journal: A Writer’s Tool Everyone Can Have and Six Ways to Achieve It

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by Rebecca DeMarino

If a journal is not in your writer’s tool kit, it should be. Proven to be a stress reliever and healthy for mind and body, it can also unleash the creative juices in each of us. While it can serve as a diary by simply recording your daily deeds and innermost thoughts, a journal is much more.
Writing down what inspires you and your goals triggers your imagination. But also include the concrete: “to-do” lists that can include the mundane chores, errands and grocery lists or “must do” lists that could resemble a bucket.

In How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, Seven Steps to Genius Every Day, Michael J. Gelb describes Leonardo’s journaling habits, which are intriguing to say the least! This is an excellent resource for writers and I highly recommend it – it is, um, pure genius! The following is a list of ideas to jumpstart your journal.

1. Make a commitment. Decide if you will jot in your journal daily or weekly, but stick to it. Journaling throughout the day is ideal and very Da Vinci! You can record in the moment and not lose your perspective.

2. Pick your paper. Spiral notebooks are just fine, or if a fancy moleskin or leather book entices you to write then do whatever it takes. But best to make it portable. There is much to be said for handwriting your journal, especially as writers we spend so much of our time at the computer. But if you find typing is the way you get it down, I’d venture to guess you are not alone. And of course with portable electronics, you can take your “pad” anywhere.

3. Keep it with you. My 90 year-old father-in-law has carried a small pocketsize spiral for years and writes down everything throughout the day. I keep a small one on my nightstand in case I wake up with a thought I don’t want to lose. This works well for journaling, as well as that next novel!

4. Find your passion, pick a theme. Sometimes that helps to launch your journal. Record the antics of your puppy or kitty, your gardening or baking trials and triumphs, your walk or run around the neighborhood, or brainstorm your current writing project.

5. Don’t limit yourself to words – doodle when necessary. Da Vinci did this – his journals were filled with drawings and sketches. And if you’re so inclined, consider using a scrapbook for your journal and a glue stick to add tidbits of things you find awesome: menus, programs, pictures, etc.

6. Tag your best thoughts. At some point you might want to find a previous entry. Little plastic sticky tabs work great for this! You can color code or write a brief title and always know how to find your genius ideas!

I hope this gives you some ideas for starting a journal. If you are successful at keeping one, what works for you? Happy writing!

Rebecca DemarinoRebecca DeMarino lives in the Pacific Northwest and tries to write every day. In researching her first novel, she found herself wishing a journal existed for her 9th great-grandmother-the heroine in her story. But in truth, Mary Horton was most likely too busy just surviving to write down her thoughts and dreams! A PLACE IN HIS HEART releases from Revell in June.

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