As a writer, it’s necessary to have a few very specific habits that keep you writing. They differ for everyone and there’s no rule book hidden on high that you can earn the sacred key to and unlock. It’s just a feeling that every writer has. What works for me won’t necessarily work for you. What works for an article writer probably won’t work for a novel writer, and vice versa. And then, if you happen to be both, what do you do?
The many facets of writing fiction, or articles, or poetry, or whatever you write to make you happy, are endless and each of them requires a certain level of expectations from your self. You have to put in the effort to get the result you’re seeking.
One of the most underrated and misunderstood tools in the writer’s toolbox is the journal or writer’s notebook. It’s a necessary part of any writer’s repertoire for a few reasons. You need a place to write down the random ideas you have as you go about living your life. You can’t just turn your brain off whenever you go to the store or take a drive, then sit down and write when you decide you have the time to think about it. So you need a place to write down what you’re thinking when you’re not writing.
Inversely, you need a place to go and write when you have no ideas, nothing going through your mind or floating up through the ether to write about, and the open space of an empty page is perfect for scribbling random thoughts and getting your brain going.
There are any number of methods, uses, and styles of journaling for a writer, but there are a few things you should try to remember that will immensely help your writing out.
Writing every day is a task that sounds like a given but many writers have more than a little trouble accomplishing. It takes dedication and time and generally a certain amount of energy that some of us just don’t have every day. Set a reasonable daily goal, something like four pages in your pocket journal and make sure you write that much every single day. It doesn’t seem like much, but half the time you’ll find yourself doing much more or grinding out a brilliant idea that will turn into more brilliant ideas that you absolutely have to go and type out right away.
Get the right notebook for you. There are hundreds of kinds of notebooks out there; big ones, little ones, bound ones, stapled ones, spiral ones. Don’t pick one that’s uncomfortable for you. If you’re never home, get something that fits in your pocket. If you never leave your desk, get something easier to write in. It’s a matter of personal preference. I prefer to use a moleskin because it’s tightly bound and withstands most abuse, plus it fits in my pocket easily.
Reread what you’ve written every couple weeks. Go back and dig through your rambling thoughts every now and then to see what you were talking about. You might spark an idea that you didn’t even know you had and break free of a crippling case of writer’s block. That’s what the notebook is for, freeing up the roadblocks in your mind as well as keeping track of your ideas. Plus you might have had a brilliant idea at the store, written it down, and then immediately forgotten about it.
The journal is the fundamental tool of any good writer. You can’t just sit down and tap out a few thousand words on your computer every few days and be a good writer (well, some people can, and to you I say, that’s amazing). You’ve got to take the time and coax your brain into working with you on crafting something you can use. And a notebook is the best way to do that.