Keeping a Journal

Most writing teachers recommend keeping a journal. It helps with so many different aspects of your writing. Here is why I write in my journal when I write.

  • It empties the shallow dust on top of my mind
  • It helps my mind to associate different things and bring awareness to what was hidden
  • Helps to mine my memories
  • Helps to remember emotions when they happen to me
  • Dredges up good and bad events that happened that can lead to a story.

Keeping a journal is a great way to find ideas for short stories and sometimes poems. But when you write a journal every day, what do you put in it? Here are some ideas.

  • How did the day go today (or yesterday)?
  • What made you angry or happy?
  • Who made you sad or annoyed?
  • Did you see someone interesting on the street?
  • Did you catch an expression, a sentence that you could use later in your story?
  • Describe the streets you walked, buildings you entered, food you ate with all of your five senses.
  • If you had to imagine a scene in the life of someone you passed at the coffee-shop, what would it be?
  • Did it remind you of a time in your life when something happened?

I am an infrequent journal keeper. I'd keep them for weeks and then stop for months. But when I do write in my journal, I do use them to create characters and stories using my observations of life.
  • Sometimes I write about what happened on a day. I pick an emotion and start writing, even if not related to what happened to me that day.
  • I like prompts to kick-start my sub-conscious. I ask someone to give me a word or a phrase and allow the prompt to lead me into a story.
  • I journal characters – for example, just villains for a week or so. Perhaps a character relay – a series of characters who come into contact with each other.

Do you journal? What do you write in your journal? Do you go back and read them?


  1. I used to write every morning as a way of warming up my writing muscles but I ended up with hundreds of filled notebooks. And they became a bit of a storage problem. Now I only keep travel journals.

  2. Yes I have a trunk full of them too. I think I should do them on a computer document - but it's not the same. :) Maybe I could do it on my ipad - where I can write using the pen. It might be best of both worlds.


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