I have several small notepads floating around on my desk that I use for whatever I need to write: grocery lists, to-do lists, or ideas for writing articles. Unfortunately, they tend to get scattered and any ideas that I had become hidden under the pile of mail on my desk.
Recently, I bought “Writing Life Stories,” by Bill Roorbach, which is about writing memoir and creative nonfiction. Bill’s book is one to read and one to work through, since each chapter has several writing exercises.
I decided to get a separate notebook for the exercises so that I could keep track of them, and I’ve been thinking about keeping a writer’s journal for some time. In a way, I have unofficially been doing that, but I’m not consistent with it. It seems like I start something and then rebel when I start to think of it as something that I “have to do.”
To help focus myself on the journaling process, I did some background reading and then wrote a brief article about How to Keep a Writer’s Journal for eHow.
To prevent burnout and/or rebellion by my inner child, I allowed myself the luxury of not having to write every day. And the journal isn’t really a diary, so it’s not a listing of “what I did today” (how boring would that really be?) but rather it’s a workbook and a place to dream up ideas. I haven’t been going through the book’s exercises in exact order, either, but I’m not stressing about it. To get hung up on the particulars ruins the creative mood. In the meantime, I’m finding that even writing in the journal a few days a week is helping me to actually do some writing, while I spend less time thinking about doing some writing.