Laura Howard: To Journal, or Not to Journal—Now, THAT is the Writer’s Dilemma


To Journal, or Not to Journal—Now, THAT is the Writer’s Dilemma

Happy Humpday! 

Today's guest blogger is Danielle Bannister, author of Pulled and it's sequel Pulled Back.

Every English class I have ever taken (Elementary through Master's) has either encouraged or required that each student keep a journal.  And for years, I have kept one, because I'm a good student that way. However, not once in all of those years of using a journal, have I enjoyed it.  

Still, I kept writing a journal every year because those teacher's kept insisting that it was the best way to clear away the cobwebs in my brain, so that when I actually DID sit down to write, I would be free to do so without my subconscious mucking things up.  

So, it has always been with great reluctance, that every year, I would begin one of these horrid things thinking this time I would find the 'journaling zen' that I had so often read about.  Alas, each journal fell by the wayside after a few short months.  The time had come to ask myself why?

The answer, was more logical than I could have hoped.  As a writer, I just couldn't see the point of journaling.  Perhaps it was because I knew I was writing something that no one would ever read (and why would I bother writing if no one was ever going to read it???)  Perhaps I found it boring rehash the monotonous diatribes of the day gone by.  Journaling, to me, felt like a colossal waste of time. (gasp!  I said it out loud!) (Goes and hides in a corner afraid someone will come and remove her coveted 'writer' cup for such a risque thing to say)


Wait!  Before you steal my cup...I have something else to say!!!!  

My opinion of journaling changed on, January 1, 2013, when I cracked open THIS baby.

 write in me

Not so fast, you say.  You've been lured into the new journal trap before.  It's wonderful bliss until you get so bored you want to stab your eyes out with the pen.  Good point.  But not only did I change the type of journal I normally buy (usually it's just a cheapo one 'cause I know I'll never finish it), but I also changed WHAT I write in it.  And that, as they say, has made all the difference.

Instead of regurgitating my day that I don't really want to recall, instead I'm putting my journaling time to good use.  I'm writing a novel in it!  (shut the front door!)  Yes, you heard me correctly.  I am HAND WRITTING a new adult novel inside those 300 lined pages.  When I finish with the journal, I will have finish my first draft of a new novel.  THAT is a writing exercise I can get behind!

So far in the few days I've had the journal, I've already gotten 6 chapters down!  Now instead of journaling being a chore, it's something that gets my creative juices flowing.  Therefore, if
journaling isn't working for you and your writing, either ditch it, WITHOUT GUILT, or, change the way you use your journal. (Tweet this) Maybe it isn't a novel.  Maybe it's a place to jot down story ideas.  Maybe you write one short story a day, just for writing practice, maybe you draw the scenes of locations in your book. Whatever.  It's yours to use however YOU need it to work (or not work).  Don't listen to others (even me) about what will be the best for you as a writer.  No one can answer that but you.

That said, I'll leave you the best advise I've ever gotten as an author:  “Write on!”  


                                   Pulled Back (Book Two)

I'd love to hear from you! What are your thoughts on Journaling? Or Free-writing in general?


  1. What a great idea! I am just beginning a YA too, and am handwriting it. I spend so much time on the computer, that I figured I would get more done by handwriting it as I lay on the couch. I'm just getting started though.

    My girls gave me a M.E. desk calendar for Christmas, and I have decided to use it to write down one thing that I am thankful for and also a summary of my day in the 5 little lines allotted. My blog is really my main journal.

    Have a super day!

    Kathy M.

  2. Haha! This is great! I've always thought of journaling as a valuable practice in cultivating the writing craft, but there are certainly no rules as to what should be recorded on the pages. In fact, I think the whole point of writing in a journal is to simply write down whatever lives inside you... without self-judgement (or anyone else's for that matter). For you, there's a novel inside and that's outstanding!

    My journal is a mish-mash of diatribes, random ruminations, quotes, and ideas... all written in orange pen. :)

    Good luck with your novel and thanks for sharing!

  3. Arghhh, that link to Danielle Bannister goes to :((((

    But thanks for the post. :)

  4. Huh. Good idea! I journal off and's something I love doing but if I don't have my journal RIGHT next to me, I tend to never do it. Recently I started thinking that maybe it was a waste of time too because I want to write BOOKS. But because it takes me so much more time to hand write than it does to type, I haven't "written" any stories in a while. I've been having trouble with my stories though and maybe the motion of writing them in a journal will help my writing juices. I think I'll definitely my a new, large journal that could potentially hold a story :) Good luck with your novel, Danielle!

  5. Well, I hate to admit this to you, but I'm a pretty consistent journal writer, though lately I've been in an off cycle. I find this kind of process writing enhances my other writing, as I journal about ideas for novels and stories. And I wrote much of the first draft of my WIP in a ratty spiral last fall--writing by hand was the only way I could get the story to flow.

  6. I've done this, too! Well, I've written parts of a novel in my journal. For me, journals are a place where I capture the best ideas-both mine and others-as well as inspiring quotes, poems, song lyrics, doodles, and deep thoughts. It's a place where I can play and try new things because nobody is going to read it. But the best part of journaling is how it has helped me find my voice.

    Good luck with your novel! And write on!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.