If you read enough articles and books on writing, you will come away with the key message that the secret to successful writing is… to write! Consistently. Every day (or at least on a regularly scheduled basis.) Most writers will also advise developing a habit of jotting down insights along the way throughout your day. Both of these concepts allude to the idea of regular journaling and establishing a common practice for capturing your daily writings and occasional jottings in a (at least somewhat) organized way.
A search in library catalogs or bookstores will yield a variety of books offering to teach us the best way to make journaling a way of life for us, and even how to become best selling novelists through our journaling. Resources focusing on the use of journaling for academic writing (or even non-fiction!) is less abundant. Regardless, I found a few blog posts offering some helpful viewpoints on journaling:
At the Live to Write – Write to Live website, we have the blog “10 Ways Journaling Makes You a Better Writer.” I resonated with the idea of getting “stuff” out of my mind down onto paper freed up my mind for clearer thinking and creating on other topics. PKM Readers of this blog will recognize this concept as one of David Allen’s rules for Getting Things Done… get it out of your head and onto a todo list. This author extrapolates that very useful concept to the need for writers to also clear their heads of other ideas or concerns that are cluttering their minds and making concentration and creating more difficult. A good reminder!
Joanna Penn, author of The Creative Penn site, writes a post, “Journaling Techniques to Improve Your Writing.” In it, her guest author reminds us that journaling is a means to an end; it is not intended to be anything other than “raw, unpolished expression.” As a warm-up exercise, our journal is a place for experimentation, exploration of tangents and personal reflection.
Social Work Tech offers a nice blog entry, ” Journaling for Professional, Personal, and Academic Development.” This author looks a little differently at journaling. For him, “Journaling helps me to take a snap-shot of what is going on in my professional, academic, personal, and clinical goals.” In the post he lists a number of writing topic prompts for your journal. I found the last category, “All of the Above,” to have some of the best suggestions for academic writers. Of even greater interest, he then discusses some of the tools available for journaling writers, from blogs, to the app Day One, and our personal favorite PKM tool, Evernote.
While we are on the topic of journaling tools, take a quick side trip over to the Easy Journaling blog. They are a valuable resource when considering digital journaling tools. Per their site: “Our mission at Easy Journaling is to provide you with the best app reviews, recommendations and ideas that we possibly can. We combine your input along with our own experiences and frequent communication with journal app developers. This combination of education and experience helps us bring the best information on digital journaling you will find anywhere.”
Also on the topic of digital journaling, over at the Bakari Writes site, Bakari outlines “10 Reasons I Prefer Digital Journal Writing Over Pen and Paper.” I can resonate with him regarding his claim of digital writing being faster (and for me, more legible!) than hand writing. For those of us from ancient days who actually took typing (for you of later generations, that would be “keyboarding”) in school and can touch type at a fairly quick speed, digital writing can almost become a stream-of-consciousness form of writing. Many times I have found myself later going back to read what I had written and not remembering some of what I had captured. I personally found that to be rather cool. 🙂
Next we have an entry from one my favorite bloggers. Michael Hyatt has long been a proponent of journaling. In his podcast, “The 7 Benefits of Keeping a Journal” Michael discusses some of his insights on the topic. In it, he discusses three different tools he has used in the past. His key takeaway is an important one for us all… don’t get so hung up on the method… just write!
And finally, just for fun, we have PROCESS: Coloring Journal for Writers by Kristen Joy, author of one of the top 50 writing blogs (by Positive Writer) called The Book Ninja. This 136 page coloring book has a combination of pages to color with inspiring quotes and black pages for your journaling and notes.