Before you write a word of your book, it can be a great idea to get yourself a writer’s journal. It’s fine to use either an app or pen and paper, but I prefer a paper one. I love my writer’s journal, and I use it almost daily, it’s like a therapist and a punching bag in one. There are no rules when you write in your journal, you have to give yourself absolute freedom to vent. In my journal, spelling and grammar are irrelevant. Neat writing is irrelevant, bad language is irrelevant. In my journal I allow myself to swear like there’s no tomorrow, or at least no readers, which there aren’t because no-one but me reads my journal.
When I open my journal, I feel like I’m visiting an old friend. It’s a place that is completely safe, where I can be myself. Like an old friend, the journal knows where the bodies are buried. It contains all of the crazy, angry, frustrated thoughts and feelings I’ve had about writing. My worst writer days and my most desperate thoughts.
When I wrote professionally, copywriting, ghost writing and proofreading, I relied on my journal to edit my thinking and straighten out my ideas. I’m a big picture thinker and some writing involves a careful presentation of the facts, so journaling about this helped me to get my more abstract thoughts out there before I started building a concrete, cogent piece of writing.
I like pen and paper, so my writer’s journals are always physical journal books. My journal collection is nearly as embarrassing as my pen collection, and I use any excuse to buy more of either or both. You can never have too much stationery and being a writer gives you the perfect excuse to indulge.
I use my writer’s journal in a few ways, but the number one way I use it is to complain about my writing process, to let it all out. I love writing, it feels natural and beautiful and if I’m not writing I itch to get back to it. Writing is also torturous and you need a place to sort out the torture so you can get writing again.
A writer’s journal can even be the first place you write an idea that eventually becomes a book. It can also be the place where you swear you’ll never write again. I only look back through my journals to reassure myself that yes, you’ve been in this crappy headspace before and yes, you broke through and continued writing. A writer who keeps a good relationship with their head through introspection and a willingness to be completely honest about their doubts and fears, can become confident, prolific and eventually published. Buy a journal, and make it a nice one. Buy a pen, and make sure it writes smoothly. Put the two together and start your writer’s life.