Saturday, January 14, 2012

You Do Have a Writer's Journal, Don't You?

Every writer should have a writer's journal, at least to keep track of random ideas or thoughts. 

A good writer's journal can do so much more, though. Here are some ideas on what can go into one and how you can keep it organized. 
Project Notebooks or Journals

You can keep several journals or notebooks for different projects, novels, and stories. They can contain tabbed sections for:
  • brainstorming 
  • drafts
  • plot
  • world building
  • language creation
  • setting
  • character sketches
  • research notes
These kinds of journals are great to reference back to when you are in the middle of writing and you can't remember specific details such as eye color or town names. Or when you're writing the fifth novel in your series and it's been a few years and you can't remember what your fantasy characters call that magic ritual.

General Writer's Notebook or Journal

It's also advisable to keep a general writer's journal or notebook. This notebook can contain a variety of things to keep you organized as a writer. Keeping everything in one place will be handy when you have to travel or just want to carry your writing stuff around with you. So what should go into your writer's journal?
  • short story drafts
  • poems
  • ideas and sketches
  • memoirs/diary entries that might inspire you
  • long-term and short-term writing goals
  • reading list
  • writing markets you want to submit to/have submitted to
  • quotes/articles that motivate or inspire you
  • writing how-to articles 
  • writing templates (such as character templates)
Note: Depending on how long you've been submitting writing pieces to markets, you might have a notebook just to keep track of submissions, rejections, acceptances, and other places you want to submit your writing to. 
How to Keep Your Writing Journal or Notebook Organized

These are some big lists. How are you going to keep everything in there organized? 

Easy. With a table of contents. 

If you're doing this in a journal, leave the first three to six pages blank, depending on how many pages are in the journal. If you're using a binder, you can leave a couple of pages and insert more as you need them. 

These first pages will serve as the table of contents. Let's say your journal has 100 pages. You are going to number down the lines until you get to 100. You can do front or front and back of the pages. 

Every time you write something or insert something into your notebook or journal, you are going to label it with a page number. It can be in a corner or wherever. Then, you're going to turn to the table of contents, find the right page number, and label accordingly. In a journal, things will probably out of order. The good thing about a notebook or binder is that you can rearrange things so they're in sections. But it's up to you. 

So when you're out of ideas and you want to look at your list of writing ideas, you open your notebook, and instead of flipping through pages and pages, you go to the table of contents. You look through a few pages, find what you're looking for, and go to the page indicated writing ideas.

If you already have a writer's journal, good for you. Maybe you found some ideas to make it better. 

If you don't have a writer's journal...what are you waiting for? 

What else should go into your writer's journal? 

1 comment:

  1. This is great! I am inspired now to have a couple of journals devoted to different aspects of my writing.