There are lots of reasons that you might want to keep a journal. For instance, it’s a record of your work or life or it could be a cathartic release.
There is evidence that regular writing can help with the stress within daily life. Regular writing makes you feel good and can help you re-live events both good and bad in a safe environment. It can be used as a tool to achieve your goals and there is a growing evidence that it has lots of health benefits.
For authors, it’s well established that the best way to get better at writing, is to write. I work with some people who cannot write and see first-hand how they struggle to remember information.
Regular writing can be a way to keep a record of mistakes and accomplishments. It can help you identify which direction you want to go in life.
Does it have to be a paper journal?
The format you chose to write in is a personal choice. For me it has to be paper unless I’m desperate. The physical act of writing bypasses my tendency to overanalyse. It’s also a good excuse to buy beautiful notebooks. The major disadvantage of this method is that physical journals can take up a lot of space and it’s hard to find anything in them. I don’t keep my journals because I rarely revisit them.
There are plenty of apps available that promise privacy and security as well as a great writing environment. Or you can keep an encrypted text file in any note-taking app.
Freewriting is a writing strategy developed by Peter Elbow in 1973. Written in sentence and paragraph form, the aim is not to stop, thereby, increasing the flow of ideas and reducing censor. In this way, it helps to increase fluency. I use it whenever I’m stuck in a scene or don’t know what should happen next.
How to free-write
Write down every idea you can think of about your topic, including everything crazy or weird.
- Keep writing – repeat sentences if necessary or I ask myself a question, which I then try to answer.
- Use whatever language or words you want.
- Write for at least 20 minutes or 3 pages.