Don’t be surprised if during your next office visit, your doctor hands you a prescription for a journal with instructions to write a minimum of 30 minutes a day!
That’s right. Medical science has discovered what we writers have known for a long time…the benefits of journaling. According to research documented in the Journal of the American Medical Association, April 14, 1999, persons suffering from asthma and rheumatoid arthritis significantly reduce symptoms by “expressive writing.” Writing about (stressful) life events helps to put things into perspective.
In the same way, journaling helps a writer to organize their feelings and thoughts and improves their perspective. Keeping a journal is also an excellent way for wanna-be writers to get into the habit of writing regularly.
This not only improves writing and boosts confidence, but increases awareness and sparks creativity as well.
First Step – The Journal
Whether opting for a special hard cover journal or an inexpensive spiral notebook, seasoned writers utilize the benefits of documenting thoughts, feelings, solutions, and events – while fresh in the mind and creative juices are flowing at their very best. And as best selling author and syndicated columnist, Marjorie Holmes points, out in her book, Writing Articles from the Heart, “…ideas aren’t much use unless you write them down.”
Some writers keep several journals; perhaps one for documenting events past and present, another for research notation, and yet another set aside as their “idea journal.”
The Idea Journal
In the idea journal, free flowing thoughts and ideas for creative articles, essays, devotionals, and other works are logged while still fresh in the mind. Besides documenting ideas that could birth their best piece yet, jotting down random thoughts and ideas helps to keep the writer’s mind uncluttered so they can better focus on the task at hand; writing.
Perhaps something you read in the newspaper or saw on television sparked an idea worth exploring; maybe someone did or said something that caused you to remember a long forgotten humorous experience, or watching a mother robin feed her young from the kitchen window might have been your inspiration. Idea books are brainstorm books; catchall books later referred to when ready to begin a new piece or when the creative well runs dry and mental stimulation is needed. It can also be perused to jump-start new ideas from a single idea already written down in the journal.
A wise writer will always keep a journal handy, whether at home, while battling the morning rush hour, or traveling abroad. Therefore, the type of journal selected is important. A small spiral notebook that can be conveniently tucked inside a purse or carried inconspicuously would be a good investment for times away from the house. A larger notebook or two kept in handy locations at home, say one in the bedroom and another in the living room, would also be helpful.
Some writers prefer writing their ideas down on index cards kept in a file box. Others find that ideas jotted down on scraps of paper, then tucked inside folders and filed alphabetically or according to topic, best meet their needs. Find the method that works for you in keeping those gems of ideas handy and ready for use. Don’t rely on memory.
Besides documenting personal thoughts, insights, and ideas useful for future pieces, maintaining a journal can help dispel confusion and keep you more focused.
Share Your Journal Experience
Have you ever journaled? Do you find it useful and if so how? Discuss below and tell us what you use to keep those creative juices flowing!