What do Flowers for Algernon, Dracula, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower have in common?

They’re all books written as journal entries! But even if you as a writer aren’t interested in writing epistolary novels, writing your own journal is one of the most helpful tools in finding a voice, getting those thoughts down in writing, and simply getting much needed practice as a writer.

One of the first rules of journaling is to not take it so seriously. Just like writing the first draft of anything you might be working on, you are looking for quantity over quality—just getting words and ideas out on the page. However, journal writing is even easier than that! There are no restrictions on what you have to write or how much you have to write. You just have to write.

Journaling should be a fun and freeing experience and works best when you add yourself into the mix. Drawings, colors, humor, and other things make journaling a highly unique experience for a writer. And who knows? Maybe something amazing will come of it.

Although there are no restrictions to journal writing of course, there are always tips to help make the action more efficient for writers. Here are a few specific ones:

  • Write often- The more you do something, the better you’ll get.
  • Keep it to yourself- What they don’t know won’t hurt them.
  • Avoid editing- The Grammar Police will enjoy their time off.
  • Try writing with pen and paper- Now with 50 percent fewer distractions!

Another idea is to have two totally separate journals for two totally separate reasons. In one, write down all your observations. What happened that day? How did you feel about those situations? In the other journal, use your imagination and create, create, create. Try out dialogue, character profiling, opening lines, or just blocking out possible ideas for scenes in a book. Having one journal for real life experience and one for creativity can make your non-journal-writing a culmination of the best of both worlds.

Try writing once every day or every other day for just a couple of minutes. Use an old notebook, scrap paper, or anything you prefer, but try to make a habit of doing it regularly and keeping everything together in case you want to go back for a referral.

You may take a thousand good ideas from your journal, or maybe only two, but you will never truly know how your thoughts translate to the page until you write them down. Happy journaling!