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Writer's Journal

Toby Johnson

I am beginning a writer's Journal. In this what should I do? should I write down little ideas that come to my head, little maps and stuff that I need to draw, or should I write out whole length things in it like a short story and such. could I just use it as a rough and do whatever I want in it? thank you
Yes! No! Maybe!

There is no should's or shouldn't's as far as writing goes. What do you want to achieve and what is the place of the journal in it? Do what works for you.

Stephen King states for instance that he never keeps a writing journal, because he considers it the best way to preserve bad ideas. Good ones you are excited about will stick around while the bad ones will simply disappear.

Brandon Sanderson on the other hand keeps a file with random story ideas and each time he starts outlining a story he goes through the file. If an idea jumps at him he will include it in his outline.

Some people swear by it and write pages and pages. Others hate it and never touch the things. I do a few things. I keep a list of story ideas (both sentences / paragraphs and images). And I keep a list of interesting / useful websites (about writing or publishing). Besides that, I keep a virtual notebook for novels which contain my worldbuilding, characters and outline stuff. I also have a physical notebook which I mainly use to draw maps in or if I somehow really need a written note.

Mad Swede

Depends on what you mean by a writers journal.

I have a sort of random text file where I write any odd bits of text that come to mind when I'm having a writing session. Those bits of text are those that don't fit into whatever I'm writing but which are too good to lose. The reason I do this is because I was always taught that you should write something, anything, when you're settling down to write. Quite often the text gets used in a later book or short story, but there are some bits still in there that haven't found a home - yet.


I used one in the beginning of my series to keep track of plot ideas, characteristics, names of places and characters, and a brief timeline, for reference purposes. I often refer to it in sequels to ensure I am not using mis information going forward, or reintroducing a dead character. Or to confirm when something happened.

I would jot down sequel ideas, or the first few lines, or brief synopsis of the next book.

There is no right or wrong as noted in previous replies. Just use it in any way that will help you write!


I am on version 10 of having a writing journal, so it is safe to say I’m fond of them! It’s useful to me in that it’s quite portable, I can use it at work, and it’s useful for streams of consciousness. The only real thing is, as I’ve had so many journals at this point, there are times I’m in desperate need for notes and can’t find them because they’re in one of ten notebooks whose location is... hard to locate hahaha...

It’s a good place for shorter works and brainstorming as well. I do plenty of outlining/worldbuilding in my journals before moving to writing on my iPad.
The faintest writing is better than the sharpest memory. A writers journal, in my understanding, is a place to keep those Eureka! moments so you dont kick yourself later. Usually it is short snippits, but it is also on hand if a muse takes you and you can put something in that is more fleshed out.

If you intend to write larger pieces, it might be better to keep it a bit seperate from the snippits or the snippits may get lost in the weeds.