Want to Write Better? Start Journaling
Five ways keeping a journal will help you with the craft
Tealfeed Guest Blog
“Forget all the rules. Forget about being published. Write for yourself and celebrate writing.” — Melinda Haynes
The only reason I kept a journal was to clear my mind. It was my goal when I decided to start a journaling habit.
It’s been three years since then.
Every morning, I write at least two pages in my journal. It’s part of my morning routine. I record my feelings, my work, my family, parties with my friends, strangers I’ve met, and things I’m grateful for.
I become positive.
I have more joy.
My family is happier.
I have stronger faith.
And the unexpected but amazing result is that my writing skills are much better.
I don’t know how it happened, but what I do know is if I hadn’t journaled over the years, I would have never written. And I would never be here to share this with you.
Many people think journaling can be mental therapy, but quite a few believe it helps improve writing.
Let me ask you this:
Read your own journals from last year or five years ago, and compare them with your “now” journals, do you think your writing is better?
I’m 100% sure it’ll be better (even just a bit).
Now I’ll share with you how journaling makes me become a (better) writer.
Journaling Helps Me Practice Writing
I simply write in a stream of consciousness, trusting myself that something interesting will happen if I tap into the flow.
Journals give me a place to write down whatever half-formed, unpolished thoughts occur to my head at the moment. Putting one word in front of another will usually lead to an idea that has the potential to use later.
The more I journal, the more I love the feeling of completing a journal. And that’s what motivates me to start the next one. It’s like having an exercise routine.
Journaling Allows Me to Write Without Fears
Journals are where I have the courage to name the stuff I don’t even share with my husband and my bestie.
When journaling, I don’t need to hide anything. I can show my anger, pain, frustration, hopes, dreams, my worst, and my best. I can show my most vulnerable self. I can tell what I want to remember, what I love, and what I hate. I don’t need to be perfect.
There are seasons of life where I wasn’t mentally healthy, and that reflected in the pages. Some of my past journals are sad. But it is what it is, just like being a human. Now I become more optimistic than ever. My journals are full of joy and happiness, even my life still has a lot of ups and downs.
“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.”— Natalie Goldberg
Every single word that I write is from my heart. That’s journaling. It doesn’t need to be read. It just needs to be shown.
Sometimes I use both English and Vietnamese in my journal. It’s such a mess, but I don’t have to worry about criticisms or self-editing. I don’t need to write with any “shoulds.” I don’t stop to edit or explain. I don’t care whether things make sense. My entries are for myself and me alone.
Journaling Helps Me Create a Vast Idea Archive
I didn’t read what I wrote until last year.
I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve gone back to reread my journals and thought, “Damn! Did I write that? It’s pretty good!”
My journals have so many ideas and stories that I can use in my work. Recently I knew some people even keep an idea journal to unleash their creativity.
When you free up your creative self and make the commitment to be completely honest, the good stuff is bound to come up. The gems will be buried amid tons of rubble, but they’ll be there, waiting to show up.
Journaling Inspires Me to Learn English
English isn’t my first language, but it’s my business language. So, journaling about my life in English helps maintain my language skills outside of work.
Since I journal, I remember far more words and grammar rules than doing exercises in grammar books.
Imagine a language isn’t your mother tongue, then if you can write a 300-page journal in that language, you rock! It’s a big win you should celebrate!
Practice, in any form, always makes you a little better at whatever you’re doing.
Journaling Encourages Me to Read More
This benefit of journaling is easy to be ignored.
The more I journal, the more curious I am about other people’s writing. I want to know how they write and how they make their journals more interesting.
Journaling (also writing) leads to reading, which leads to more journaling and reading.
The more you write, the more you want to write. Experience breeds expertise, so if you write a lot, you’ll see a huge improvement in your writing skills.
And, journaling, whether it’s in a journal, in an app, or on a website, helps you become a better writer.
This article was originally published by Lavender Nguyen on medium.
Tealfeed Guest Blog