Want to improve your writing career?
The best tip I can give you is: keep a journal.
What you write in your journal is up to you. (Scroll down to read about the various kinds of journals.)
When I chat about journals with my writing students, many can’t see the point. If they’re novelists, they want to get on with their novels. The freelancers want to get more freelance writing clients.
As the saying goes however, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. We get derailed not only by other people who demand things of us, but also by our own unruly thoughts and emotions.
Writers tend to be victims of their emotions. This may be a challenge for creative souls: studies seem to show that we’re prone to depression and mood disorders. This isn’t to suggest that if you suffer depression, you’ll be more creative, rather that you may be more susceptible to moodiness.
Avoid allowing your moods to control you; remember the important role of play in creativity.
Which brings us to this vital concept for your writing career: journaling for creative play. Playing in a journal allows you the freedom to develop new ideas
Your writing career: use your journal for creative play
Your journal is a no-risk environment. You can write and draw anything you choose. It’s relaxing and enhances your creativity.
You may be wondering, what should I write in my journal?
The type of journal you use is up to you. You may keep several journals for various purposes, or one journal for everything.
What type of journal?
If you wish, you can create a therapeutic journal. Also called a therapy journal, this type of journal helps you to understand yourself and your motivations; it helps you to work through problems and challenges in all areas of your life.
Your therapy journal can help you to get what you want—once you know what you truly want. As I point out in The Journaling Habit: Achieve Your Goals And Change Your Life In Just Ten Minutes A Day:
… mostly we don’t know what we want. You can make a case for saying that if you knew what you wanted, you’d already have it.
Let’s look at some types of journals which might help your writing career. You could consider a:
- General journal for anything you choose. Quotes from books, diagrams and doodling, ideas which come to you while you’re driving or showering, etc.
- Food journal—this could turn into a side gig. A writing colleague visited a nutritionist to improve her diet. The nutritionist suggested she keep a food journal. Within six months, my writer friend developed a new sideline as a food and health writer.
- Dream journal. This kind of journal can be useful at times of rapid change in your life.
- Reading journal: excellent for keeping track of what you’re reading and learning.
- Fiction writing journal. I’ve found that if a novel’s causing me problems, a fiction journal is useful, especially a paper journal. You can work out characters, ideas, and plot holes.
How to use a journal for your writing career
Let’s look at how you could use a journal to help you not only to write, but also turn writing into a profitable career.
These ideas are in no particular order.
- Make a list of your writing goals. Schedule a review of your goals once a week.
- For each of your goals, use the WOOP process (Wish, Outcome, Obstacles, Plans.) I’ve found that once I identify an obstacle, my subconscious mind obligingly comes up with solutions.
- Daily: kickstart projects with a five-minute “warm up” writing session. I find that if I use a warm up session each day, for each project, the writing proceeds more smoothly. I’m less inclined to over-think and procrastinate. These sessions often generate ideas, so it’s handy to keep all your sessions in a journal.
- Keep track of your word counts. Although apps like Scrivener have a Goals feature to track word counts, I like to keep my word counts in a my journal. Your mind can play tricks and your moods can derail you. If a mood tells you you wasted a lot of time, you can check your journal. More times than not, you’ll see that you exceeded your expected total word count for that day. Over time, you’ll pay less attention to moods and this is a good thing.
Have fun with your journal(s)—they will help you to achieve your goals. They may make your life easier too. 🙂
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Copywriter and marketing pro Angela Booth maintains a busy copywriting and ghostwriting practice. Fascinated by online marketing, she wrote one of the first business books for internet marketing, published by Allen & Unwin. She’s been an enthusiastic blogger since the late 1990s.