Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Guest post by Edward Stern

The Write Stuff: 8 Reasons You Should Have a Writing Journal

To be a writer, one needs to write. Bringing a laptop everywhere is not always feasible, especially for jotting down quick thoughts on the go. Many writers prefer to write consistently at designated writing times, but with a busy schedule, this can be hard to squeeze in.

The solution? Keep a writing journal. You'll be amazed at how helpful it will be for getting your creative juices flowing and capturing inspiration when it strikes. Here are eight reasons why you should have a writing journal.

1. Take it anywhere: A writing journal is a great companion for travel, whether it be by car, bus, train, plane, whatever moves. Make the most of your time commuting to work or traveling for business by taking those often wasted hours and making them productive writing time spent in your journal.

2. Capture inspiration when it strikes: You never know where you'll be when that one little phrase, plot twist, sentence fragment, anything strikes you. Be prepared, and don't lose the moment. Bring your writing journal and a pen or pencil with you everywhere to make your genius turn of phrase does not escape you.

3. Play around with your words: With a writing journal, you can bring past work with you. Oftentimes, it's important to take a step back from your work to be able to evaluate it objectively and to hone your prose. Play with your phrasing until you get it perfect while on your lunch break or whenever it hits you.

4. Record observations: As a good writing exercise, go for a walk downtown or through a park and record observations. Jot down notes on the people you see and the events taking place. Later, sit down and imagine back stories for what you saw. You never know when these could turn into a key character or the plot for your next piece.

5. Make yourself write: To be a better writer, you need to write, obviously. Having a designated journal time keeps you writing even if it's not while working on a specific poem, novel, or other project. Keep your skills sharp by keeping a journal.

6. Keep it informal: If you are writing for a living or investing your heart and soul in a passion project, write in a journal informally about the process of writing, your personal happenings, or just silly fun side efforts. Keep your writing journal a fun place, one where you can relieve stress and where writing is always fun. It will keep you fresh and determined for your other work.

7. Play games: Give yourself prompts, write from other perspectives, write letters you'll never send -- play quick, casual writing games to keep your skills sharp and to try out new things. A little intellectual stimulation will help make you a better, more versatile writer, and may also inspire new directions for your more formal work.

8. Good writers write frequently: To be good at anything, you have to practice, and practice consistently. Keeping a writing journal forces you to do so, especially around a busy schedule.

Edward Stern is a guest blogger for Pounding the Pavement and a writer on online career training for the Guide to Career Education.

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