“What are you up to?” my mother used to ask me when I was a kid, tacitly implying that I must be up to “no good”. I will now ask you the same question regarding your writing life. What are you up to?
Most articles and books regarding successful writing practices boil down to this; you should write every day. That’s what we call practice. Uh oh, don’t stop reading yet! It’s also supposed to be enjoyable. I enjoy knowing that I have created pages and pages of original inspiration. It feels good to know that I’m busy writing, creating something for myself.
That’s where your daily journal becomes all important. You are allowed to write anything at all in your journal. Bad poetry. Terrible prose. Essays with potty-mouth language. Word lists. Anything. Here you might ask, “Then what’s the point?” Great question.
It trains you to write without judgement. When I was writing songs, I churned out plenty of awful lyrics. Awful! I may not have recognized it at the time, but I wasn’t sharing the songs with anyone, so I was able to sit on those songs and reflect on them. As my writing improved, I came to appreciate the work that got me there, even though those early songs were cringe-worthy. That’s what your journal does. It allows you to collect all of your ideas into one place for later reflection.
If you have never kept any kind of journal or diary, now’s the time to start! Write in it every day. Stuck for an idea? Do a ten minute timed writing. Ten minutes. Boom. Done.
Eventually you will be carrying your journal everywhere (I recommend this anyway). You’ll fill it up and start a new one. Soon you’ll be coming up with short story ideas, novel concepts, poetry snippits, maybe even bits of song lyrics.
I have a couple of journals that overlap, and I always know where they are when inspiration pops up. I’ve recently begun keeping a bullet journal as well, many folks find that format very useful.
Stay encouraged, figure out a process that works for you. Only one rule; write every day. ~TH~
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