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Do you keep a writing journal?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Zander Willmore, Nov 24, 2019.

  1. Zander Willmore

    Zander Willmore Minstrel

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    Do you keep a writing journal or have another way to track your progress as a writer.

    Today I have decided to start a writing journal as a way to track my daily progress and to keep me motivated. I should have done this a couple years ago when I started writing but better late then never. I want to be able to have a record I look back on and see how my writing evolved over time.

    Does any one else do this? And if so does it help?
     
  2. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    I wish you the best of luck. My bookshelves are littered with the corpses of forgotten journals, lovely in their dusty covers. A page here, five there, the rest blank.

    I think the reason I've never had much success with them is that, as pretty as they are, as smooth the paper and crisp the line, I don't know what to say. Story notes go somewhere else and I keep meticulous files of past work... so what does one write in a writing journal?
     
  3. Kasper Hviid

    Kasper Hviid Dreamer

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    I have a file on google docs where I type in whatever I have learned as a writer. But no journal as such.
     
  4. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I keep notebooks because I've always been a pen-and-paper guy. I'm a doodle thinker, and it's really difficult to doodle while typing on a computer. :)

    While I had a job, the notebook was good because it's so portable. I could write in it on breaks and lunch. It became habit. Now I'm retired, I still have the notebooks, still write in them, though I spend rather more time composing at the computer now that I once did. Old dog meets new trick.

    What goes in the notebook? Everything. It's not a writing journal, it's a notebook. This is where I do initial thinking, so there are many notes. I make outlines there, write snippets of scenes, dialog, character sketches. It goes with me to the library if I'm driven to research there. In amongst all that, I will talk to myself. I'll write how some even disrupted my writing for a time, or what I'm currently stuck at, or speculations. I do a lot of A has happened in the story; possibilities at this point are X, Y, and Z. The only thing consistent in the notebooks is each entry starts with the date. Oh, and a check mark.

    At some point, every few days, I'll type up part of the notebook. It's never everything. What gets typed might almost count as a second draft because I'm editing what's in the notebook. Some of what's in there is more general--notes about magic systems or religions or what pixies like to eat. That sort of thing goes into the WorldReference project. Plot notes and such go into their places for the WIP. Actual writing goes in the Manuscript section of the project. Whining about how hard it is to write gets ignored.

    So, not really a writing journal. But a journal with writing in it. <g>
     
  5. Aldarion

    Aldarion Troubadour

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    I hve that lovely Targaryen notebook where I write down random ideas that pop into my mind. Detailed notes are all on computer, however.
     
  6. Ruru

    Ruru Minstrel

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    I'm with skip.knox. I keep a journal which is really just a notebook for anything and everything. I'm a very tactile writer so nothing beats the feel of pen on paper when it comes to getting the words down. Its portable, I take it to work and just about everywhere.

    The most important thing to me is that it isn't pretty on the inside. I've had a thing for buying beautiful journals in the past, and have never written in them because they seemed to need something official, important or worse yet 'completed' in them. And I can't write like that. So my journals are cheap with narrow lines that I can fill with scribbles, musings and ideas. And the occasional session where I berate myself for being so lazy and not picking up the pen (which seems a little counter intuitive, I know).

    For me, I find a journal helps enormously. I also do what Skip does, and type up the useful bits every few days. But it gives me the freedom to write. About anything. I have first draft scenes from wips interrupted by musing about the lady and her dog I saw on the foot path, or a list of plausible swear words for one of my fantasy races. Then back to the original wip. No rhyme or reason, and most importantly no rules.

    I guess it depends on your personal process for writing, but I love it. And it does create a messy, rambling record of my journey as a writer (I say journey here, not progress, because I don't know about you, but I'm often running in slow circles with my abilities!)
     
  7. Aldarion

    Aldarion Troubadour

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    Oh, that much is true. I use that notebook for more "official" ideas, but I also have random mind-pop-ups written down literally everywhere... pocket notebooks, sticky notes, bits and scraps of paper, receipts, forms... anywhere and everywhere. Good thing I haven't started scribbling notes on back of my hand. All of them however eventually end up either on computer, or in that notebook and then on computer.
     
  8. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Sage

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    Never done it and never even heard of it before! The only writing "journal" I kept for a year was to make entries from the POV of different characters. So I'd pretend I spent the day in the life of one of my characters and write their diary, usually before I started each chapter, as like a warm up exercise. It definitely helped get into the mind-set but also took half an hour of actual writing time and when I stopped doing it, I realized it made little difference to my actual writing. So I'd do a diary entry in my mind while doing mundane things before writing - still help and saved me time. I hated school back then it only got in the way of writing.
     
  9. blondie.k

    blondie.k Minstrel

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    I have a small journal in which I keep my poetry and write down the story revelations I get that way I don't forget as I've done many times before. I used to not write down any notes but I've recently seen the potential help this tool wields so I'm trying to use it more.
     
    Zander Willmore likes this.
  10. oenanthe

    oenanthe Minstrel

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    I do keep a journal but I don't think I use it the way you're picturing. it's a journal that tracks my thoughts and feelings about the book I'm writing, rather than "today I wrote 823 words."

    so I usually begin by complaining and then I complain my way to a solution, write "hold on I think I know" and then I write the scene of the day
     
    Ruru likes this.
  11. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Sage

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    Not a journal, per se, but I do blog semi-regularly on my writing or thoughts about it (or pretty much anything else). I have to admit, it has more first draft poetry on it than anything else.
     
  12. Kasper Hviid

    Kasper Hviid Dreamer

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    I never used a journal while writing fiction. However, when I code I have found it practical to keep a log of my daily progress. There's a certain gratification in plotting in your daily achievements in a log. I think it has some of the same gamification aspect as rewarding yourself with star stickers.
    I also sorta plan out my coding in my log, ask myself questions, set up todo tasks.

     
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