Writer’s tools: Journal

My first writer’s journal was an Excel spreadsheet, as unsexy as they come. I was trying to figure out my ideal writing quota, so I used it to note down my daily word counts.

I was surprised how motivating it was to see those numbers go up each day. What was more, it was a much needed kick in the butt on days, when I didn’t feel like writing.

Spreadsheet: You haven’t written anything today.

Me: I know, I know. I did clean the flat, though.

Spreadsheet: All other days of this week have entries.

Me: I’ll write again tomorrow.

Spreadsheet: Today’s cell will still be empty.

Me: Grump, grump, starts writing.

What people say about writing is true. The more you do it, the easier it becomes, and better too. Apparently, our brains can get trained into routines, so, if every day we sit down to write, the brain will anticipate it and be ready for it, albeit, in my case, mostly only after several cups of caffeinated drinks.

As handy as the spreadsheet was, it didn’t help me record other progress in my writing. In times of despair, usually while editing, it’s good to remind oneself there is progress and there’s no need to bin several hundred pages of the manuscript. So, I decided to start a paper journal, a place to write about writing itself and about all the things I’ve done, wanted to learn or try.

My writing journal

My writing journal

For me, writing on paper is like flipping a switch. Something happens, a connection between the hand and the mind  helps develop thoughts in ways computers never can.

My writing journal helps me shape feelings into thoughts and clear the way forward. It’s not as much a diary as a series of conversations with myself. Things that matter, things I fear, why I write at all. Most of it are notes about my writing process and things I’d like to do. It’s like a fog light. It tells me if I’m heading in the right direction.

It isn’t the only journal in my toolbox, though. More in the next blog posts.