Every Writer Needs to Keep A Journal
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Every Writer Needs to Keep A Journal

Keeping a daily journal is every writer\\\'s guide to success. A journal is more than a diary, it\\\'s a road map for reaching a writer\\\'s short-term and long-term goals.

I am an autodidact writer. I never took any college writing courses beyond the requisite English composition courses. I studied books on manuscript formatting, books on character development, books on writing dialog, books on plotting, etc. One of the things that all the books had in common was the admonition that every writer must keep a journal. I ignored that admonition for a long time because “Journal” was just another word for “Diary” and a diary was something a girl kept not a man. Then, one day I read an interview with an author, a decidedly masculine writer that I admired and he talked about his journals, and that gave me the courage to create one of my own. I soon discovered that a journal was a vast deal more than a diary.

A Journal is Much More Than A Diary

A journal is much more than a diary where you record your thoughts and the things that happen to you on a day to day bases, it is a learning tool that will guide you towards achieving your short-term and long-term goals. A journal will also be a learning tool for those who use it after you.

Let us begin by looking at the journal itself.

You should use a perfect-bound book for your journal. A “Perfect Bound Book”, for those who may not be familiar with the terminology, is a book with a perfect bound binding. A perfect bound binding is a method of bookbinding where a flexible adhesive attaches a paper cover to the spine of the assembled signatures. Signatures refer to the individual pages. Perfect bound books look professional, so you are more likely to carry it with you everywhere you go, and will be more likely to pull it out and write in it even when surrounded by strangers.

Place your name, address and contact information on the inside of the front cover. Make sure to offer a substantial reward for it safe return if found. Yes, I did say substantial financial reward for its safe return. You will find out, as you work on your journal that it will become one of your most priceless possessions as a writer. Also, on the inside of the front cover, record the beginning and ending dates for the journal.

Place the index to your journal in front of your journal to make finding what you want quick and easy. You do not want to have to thumb through 80+ pages to find what you need. Give yourself plenty of room for the index—the first three pages should suffice. Use the Roman Numerals I, II and III for the index pages.

On the first line, under the title “Index” write “General Note” (the General Notes Page is for recording the dates and times you wrote in your journal) Page 1. Page 1 will be the fourth page in you book. Number all the pages in the upper, outside corner of each page.

OK, now you are ready to start recording events in your journal. It does not matter what you record in your journal as long as it has some significant meaning to you. It does not matter when you write in your journal—morning, noon or evening—as long as you write in your journal. Get in the habit of writing in your journal every day by starting today.

The Index is A Topical Index

Let us say that you have just started a weight loss program, you could make your weight loss goals your first entry. On the line below “General Notes” in the topical index, write “Weight Loss page 2”. At the top, of page 6 write Weight Loss” and then record you short term and long term weight loss goals. While you are writing about your weight loss goals, you receive a phone call from an editor asking you to do an important feature article for his magazine. You are thrilled because the article will put $1500 in your bank account. You want to record it. On the index line, under weight loss you write “Business page 3”. On the top of page 3, you write “Buisiness” and then record the important details of the event. I think you get the idea. When you have filled out a page dedicated to a specific subject, and there is a different subject on the next page, just write “continued on” at the bottom of the page and enter the number of the next available blank page. Record all your successes, your failures and painful experiences and your journal will soon become your guide to what to do as well as to what not to do.

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Comments (9)

Outstanding work as always.

Never thought of this, may try it.

Jerry, I use a spiral notebook for business. I keep it with me always and mainly record telephone messages and my follow up calls to clients but sometimes I will record ideas or amusing moments during the day to use in my creative writing later on. I am guilty of thumbing through numerous pages to try to find something though. I need to number and date my pages. Thanks again.

Seems like an interesting idea. I always kept a diary in school and college. maybe I should do this

I keep two sorts of journals. One is a writing journal where I brain storm, observe people,etc. The other is more of a diary where I can write more personal things down.

Interesting ! Must Try

quite useful and a must follow idea.Thanks

Great work Jerry. I used to write a journal but gave up at some point. Now, you remind me to get back to doing these things. But I also think of writing about interesting things in writing sites on the internet as my previous journals were eaten by termites. I am using Triond to write short notes which I can easily get back later on by using the search box.

I keep one on my PC with a back up on usb as I only work from home. I know it isn't quite the same, but is a record of sorts.