Dear Diary,

This is how I used to start every entry when I got my first journal in second grade. It was a small, plastic hardcover one with a picture of a kitten on the front, secured by a lock and key to keep my secrets safe. What secrets was I keeping as a precocious six year old? Couldn’t tell you. But I’m sure they were juicy. 

This diary started a life-long habit of journaling. What my journals contained and what they looked like has changed throughout the years, but the lifelong habit of writing has always been with me.

When it comes to the practice of writing, there are so many ways to utilize journaling, and the benefits are countless. For one, creating a journaling habit can help establish a daily writing routine. Even if you’re not working on your current work in progress, the act of putting that pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) every day can help you carve out time for yourself. It can also make facing that blank page a little less daunting when you’re doing so on a daily basis.  

Another huge benefit of journaling is learning how to enter that “flow state” and practice stream of consciousness writing. This practice doesn’t necessarily have to be a creative one – It’s a great way to just get your thoughts on paper, clearing your mind of anything that could be holding back your creativity such as a bad day at work, relationship drama, upsetting Emmy results (looking at you, Best Drama). I’ve always found that once those nagging thoughts are out of my head and on paper, it’s easier to focus on other things and be productive.

One of my favourite ways to use journaling in a creative way is timed free writing. Set a timer for as long as you like, I usually aim for 20 or 30 minutes to get the juices flowing, and then just write non-stop. And I mean non-stop. The whole idea here is to enter a state of “no think, just write”, so if you get stuck on a word, just keep writing it over and over until you can move past it. Never stop writing. This is a great way to come up with new ideas or work through a concept you’ve been chewing on but didn’t know how to start. Or, if you don’t have an idea in mind, you can always find fun writing prompts online to inspire you. Just start writing and see where your brain takes you!

Journaling can be an excellent tool in a writer’s arsenal. Setting yourself up with a daily writing practice that’s just for you is a great way to create a good habit, get in touch with your most inner creative voice, and work through new ideas without the pressure of deadlines or expectations. There are also ways that journaling can make you more productive (I love my bullet journal more than I love pumpkin spice, and that’s a lot), more introspective, and just generally more in tune with your inner voice. 

Let us know if you use journaling in your writing practice!

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