A writer’s journal is a wonderful thing. It can come in handy now and later. It is a tool many writers have no knowledge of but what could be their writing salvation. I have found that it is one of my most valuable tools I have as a writer.
What is a Writer’s Journal
This is simply a place for a writer to express thoughts and ideas without focusing on a single story. It is a place where a writer can let thoughts freeform. It can be inspiration for future stories. It can help with difficult scenes. It can be so much for you just by writing down your thoughts.
It can be a plain notebook. It can be a nice journal. It can even be on your computer or tablet. There is no rule on what to use. Write with a pencil, a pen, a marker, a crayon, or your fingers.
Value of Having One
I never really thought of having a writer’s journal until I was taking a class for my master’s. One of our assignments was to go to a public place and write down everything our senses picked up on. Wow! That even sounded overwhelming. Okay, my assignment was probably spelled out much better than my summation. The point was to just go to a coffee shop or the park. Then I was to write what I saw at this one table. I was to write down colors, textures, movements, body language, etc. Everything. It didn’t have to be grammatically correct. Then I was to move on to the noises, the people, and whatever else I could sense. I was gathering writing material.
My instructor pointed out that I was putting down all the details I would need for scenes in future books. When I needed to describe a scene in a coffee shop, I’m not trying to reach into my memory banks. I can go to my writer’s journal and find those scenes I have already recorded. I can modify it any way I want, but the raw material is there for me to use.
What to Put in It
I just gave you a few ideas. That should only be a start to your creative mind. You want to take time and go to various places just to record in your journal. Here are a few places you can record:
- Watching movies with your family at home. What sounds can be heard? How do people move and act? Is there talking? How does the room look with the picture on the screen changing?
- The beginning of the day at the office. What sounds are there? Describe how it sounds, smells, and even feels with the temperature. Note how people interact including their tones and mannerisms.
- On the bus ride to work. fYou could have new entries with this all the time as every ride can be so different. Describe people in detail. Use all your senses. People will smell differently. They will wear their clothes differently. Note their faces and their voices. What are they doing on the bus? There is a lot of meterail here to work with.
- What about a funeral? There is quite a bit of material there. People have their own unique way of acting in these situations. I see people laughing as they memories. Even their laugh can be different on these occassions. How are they mourning? Everyone has their own way of doing it.
- A school play or concert can give you material. People watching is fun. Add in the sounds and activities to get a ton of info for your writing.
- Vacations are a great way to gather information for your writer’s journal. When I was at the Grand Canyon, I met so many people. I experienced things I never had before. The details are easily forgotten as time goes by. What if I had a scene of someone hiking? I could pull out my journal that I wrote in on my trip and get those even ten years afterwards when my memory isn’t as reliable on such things.
It’s All in the Details
When are in the midst of writing your book, your thoughts are on so many things. I know as I have tried to add those details, my mind goes blank. No matter how hard I try, I cannot get all those precise details pulled up from my memories. If I go to my writer’s journal, I can find those details and really enhance that once scene. It is a valuable resource any writer can use.