Have you discovered the power of a book journal?
A few months ago, we devoted a writer’s group meeting to journaling. Although many authors favored bullet journals, others used an all-purpose writing journal, and a couple of authors favored project-specific journals: when they started a book, they created a journal for it.
Your book journal: paper or digital?
For me, the big advantage of a paper notebook is that I can carry it with me everywhere. A close friend tells me that she “blogs” her book in the Notes app on her phone. Whatever works for you is best for you.
You may even decide to turn your journal into a book, as many famous authors have done.
Let’s look at some of the book journaling tips we discussed in our group.
1. Increase your motivation, painlessly
Whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, a book is a long project. It’s easy to lose your inspiration and motivation, especially when you hit the wall:
You want to quit. A charmingly seductive voice whispers in your ear: your novel is boring. You made a mistake. Here’s a MUCH better idea… This new idea is a guaranteed bestseller. Delete the dreck, and write THIS NOW…
On days when I don’t feel like writing, I read a few pages of my book journal. Suddenly I get an idea, and start writing.
2. Keep track of scenes, your plot, and subplots
A novel has hundreds of elements you need to track. We looked at using Obsidian to track these elements, and avoid chaos:
A primary challenge for anyone who writes fiction is organization: how to keep track of all the elements of a good novel or short story, while they’re writing.
Although I track fiction and nonfiction in Obsidian, I also use a paper notebook for each project. Handwriting clears my mind and inspires me.
3. Conquer inertia: if you start writing, you tend to keep going
On some days, you stare at the computer screen—you’re not in the mood to write. Several members of our group said that handwriting helped them on these kinds of days.
You can write anything in your book journal: complaints and rants if you like. Your journal is good therapy. (More on that in a moment.)
4. Manage your ideas: jot them down when you find them
Do you get most of your ideas when you’re away from your computer? Perhaps you get ideas while you’re driving. Pull over, and jot your idea in your notebook.
Please don’t think: this is such a great idea, of course I’ll remember it, because you won’t.
5. Therapy: fix your problems and write more
When you have a problem and you’re stressed, keeping a journal can help you identify what’s causing that stress or anxiety. Once you’ve identified your stressors, you can work on a plan to resolve the problems and reduce your stress.
What’s causing you stress? It may be a family member, your finances, your job… We all have stressors. A journal helps you to cope and find solutions.
6. Create mind maps to track all the elements of your novel at a glance
Creating a quick mind map in your notebook helps inspire you for a writing session.
If you’re writing a novel, a mind map helps you to track your plot, characters, and character motivation:
Plotting characters onto mind maps ensures that you won’t write yourself into a corner. You won’t sit staring into space, wondering why your current scene isn’t coming to life.
If you’re writing a book, create your book journal today
Use a paper notebook, your phone, or your computer. It can make all the difference. Try it.
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