Writers have been keeping journal for centuries. John Steinbeck and Virginia Woolf are among great writers who kept prolific journals. You can find an assortment of quotes from professional writers, like this one, about writers who used journals. Not all good writers journal, but good journaling can make a bad writer decent, and a decent writer good.
Get In The Groove
There’s no secret here. It’s been repeatedly proven that free-writing, the essential cousin of journaling, makes one more creative. Free-writing and journaling are not always the same however. Keeping a journal, if boiled down to the path of least resistance, would simply be taking a tally of the day. The sort of journaling worth empowering comes from free-writing. When you explore ideas through journaling, you are opening yourself up to creativity. There’s no right answer. It is simply an exploration of a topic taking you as far as you feel comfortable.
This will then open up your creativity but also the writing mind. With this awakened writing mind, language will flow smoother than it would going in fresh. It will feel more seamless. Journaling before the “real” writing gets you in the groove for the writing that is about to come.
Over enough time, a writer’s journal will be filled with half explored ideas. Some might be suitable for fiction/nonfiction and some will be outrageous and neglected. Nonetheless, there will be record of those ideas. It’ll be up to the writer to scan their journals to salvage these. This is the discovery phase of writing. Writers who feel they have ran out of ideas will rejoice knowing keeping a journal is a simple key in mending that problem. An idea you dismissed after writing it in the journal may become of value six months later when you are desperate for ideas.
Expression, Expression, Expression
Journaling is expression. It should be this way first and foremost. While you explore whatever idea/dream/circumstance you desire, focus on expression. Expression is, as the Latin suggests, the act of pushing things out. You are manifesting on paper, or through voice, those feeling that are inside. It will take work.
One day, when you look back to that journal entry, you will experience your own expression. Some will become haunted by how plain their language is. The language wont reflect your feelings and will feel more like a news broadcast of those emotions. It will be a caricature of the experience. This is why those who journal have an easier time expressing themselves. The repeated practice in their bound notebooks has prepared them for it. It won’t always be the best language but it will be unique language. Unique will carry writers great lengths.