Writing a book can be a challenge. Book journaling can help — try it, especially if you have trouble finishing your books.
Last week I was catching up with a friend. She writes too, so I asked her how her novel was going. “I’m writing something else — I got stuck. I’ll go back to it later.”
“Later” is usually another word for “never,” when you’re writing a book. Once you’ve lost the inspiration for the book, you’re unlikely to finish writing it.
Book journaling tips: 4 ways your book journals help you to write and publish
Before I started journaling each book, I had problems finishing what I’d started. Usually I got somewhere around chapter three — and stopped. The plot had become boring. The characters were irritating.
Then I read an article about Sue Grafton, who said:
“I write a journal for each of the novels. I usually keep the journals about 50 pages long, and create as many as I need.”
That struck me as a brilliant idea. I’ve been journaling each book, and not only do I finish the books, the writing goes more smoothly too.
Here are some tips to help you to journal your book.
1. Writing a book? Start a journal for it — it’s your story of success
I handwrite my book journals, so choosing a journal is part of the fun. Often, I’ll pick out a journal for a book several months before I start writing it.
When I get an idea, that idea gets added to the journal. Character quirks, plot ideas, locations and photos — everything gets added to the journal.
When I start writing the book, I follow David Morrell’s process:
“… I write a conversation with myself in which my alternate personality prods me to investigate all the implications in the story. Those written conversations can sometimes be as long as 20 single-spaced pages. I prefer this method instead of writing an outline.”
2. Journal before you start writing each day: get into a “writing” mind state
To write, you need to put your rear end in a chair, and stay there. On some days, this is difficult. On any day, you can find a dozen things you should be doing, rather than writing.
Journaling your book helps you to stay in your chair. Before you start writing, write a journal entry. Talk to yourself about the book. Ask questions (more on a questions below.)
No one will ever read your journal, so if you’re having a bad day, it’s a good place to vent.
Not an idea in your head? Need to write a scene which scares you? Journal about your lack of ideas, and your fear. Before you know it, ideas have come to you, and your fear has vanished.
3. Questions, questions: ask yourself questions, get answers
The most exciting thing about journaling your book is the answers you’ll get to the questions you ask.
Ask questions. Ask for plot ideas. Ask about your characters. Ask yourself any questions you choose. When you write down questions you have, it clears space in your mind for you to write.
You’ll be able to answer many questions yourself. Some — “how long would a trip from London to Edinburgh take in 1810”? — you can research.
4. Dialogue with your characters, and write character journal entries
Talking to your characters helps you to write. You can also create journal entries for your characters. Not only do these entries help you to get to know your characters, they increase your confidence that you can write this book.
When you get to know your characters in your journal, they will feel more alive to you — and to your readers too.
Have fun journaling your books. 🙂