Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Pros of Keeping a Writing Journal - A Writing Journal

What exactly is a writing journal? Simply put, a writing journal is a journal or notebook that you write in. Whether it be responses to writing prompts, random bits of stories, or interesting dialogue you overheard, they are all recorded in a writing journal. As long as the journal content is writing related, it can be considered a writing journal.

Every writer should consider keeping a writing journal because they are helpful and benefit your writing overall.

The first pro of keeping a writing journal is that it lets you track your progress as a writer. After you’ve been writing in the journal for a few weeks you should go back and read what you’ve written.  Not only will you notice where your writing strengths are, but also the areas you need to improve. For example, you may learn that you have great characterization but you don’t describe the setting enough. Well then, now you can take steps to improve your setting descriptions.

The second pro to having a writing journal is the convenience. Even in a world where we have access to laptops and smartphones most of the time, we are still dependent on getting a wifi connection and making sure the battery is charged. With a journal this is not an issue. You can take out your notebook anywhere and begin writing. Furthermore, there are no distractions such as social media or additive games in your journal. It is just you and your writing.

This idea of a technological world leads me to my next pro: editing is easier. I will not deny that nowadays we have to type up our novels. How else will we submit our manuscripts? However, handwriting your stories and then typing it up means that, essentially, you have to write it twice. Instead of being put off by this, think of it as a chance to improve. While typing your novel you can fix grammar mistakes, think of better ways to word sentences, and maybe throw in some foreshowing. If you know your setting needs work, keep that in mind. As you type, add to your setting and make it the best it can be. Basically, when you handwrite you just try to get the story down on paper. When you type it up, you focus on fixing mistakes and improving your weak areas. In the end, your writing will be twice as good.

Another pro to having a writing journal is that it keeps you organized. Everything is in your notebook so you'll know where to find it. I find that when I type up my work, it's all over the place: on my laptop, desktop, Google Drive, USB, and so on. The draft and versions are all different and I can't keep track of anything. That never happens with a notebook. I have a section for writing my novel, a section for book ideas, and another for random bits of inspiration. I don't have to worry about hunting down the right copy or making sure everything is backed up.

There are several other pros to keeping a writing journal but I'll stop here. Even if you are a very tech-friendly writer, you should try keeping a writing journal for a few weeks. Your journal doesn't even have to be fancy... it can be a notebook you bought on sale.

So young adult writers, go out and write in your journal!

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