Ideas: Keep a Writing Journal

You should be getting good at generating new writing ideas by now. You should also be improving your ability to write – even if it feels forced sometimes – as often as possible which, from personal experience, help to keep those original ideas flowing. Now you need to ensure that the next time you are stuck for ideas, you have somewhere to quickly turn to where your own ready-made ideas await you.

We have discussed different ways to generate ideas and keep writing in some detail now. We have looked at thought showers, free writing, everyday stories and our own interests to see how each of these areas can help us as a writer. Today, we are going to examine the benefits of keeping a writing journal.

You may already have a writing journal. If so, that is great! I actually have several: one for my stories and poems, one for my writing tips, and one purely for writing ideas. Everything I write is handwritten first so that it goes through an editing process when I type it up – I will likely come back to this later in the year, so keep your eyes peeled. The reason why I have three writing journals is so that I can keep everything I write neat and organised – and also because I tend to write a lot.

If you don’t have a writing journal or you don’t spend long hours writing every day, then one writing journal will be enough for you. Try to divide it into sections depending on the types of things you write or the genres you write in, e.g. poems, stories, anything you would like to get published, ideas, prompts you like, and so on. A folder or ring binder is a great way to store things that you may want to move around later. You could also store any mind maps or other writing resources you have there for use in the future.

You should be able to keep track of what you are writing about at all times by referring to your writing journal. If you have a good idea but you are busy writing something else, put it in your writing journal rather than scrawling it down somewhere random or attempting to remember it. Inspirational quotes, strong prompts and moving pieces of writing by other people can go in there too (just make sure you remember they belong to someone else!). It should be a convenient place for you to go to when you want to start creating immediately. Don’t get rid of your old ideas, either – with the right prompt you may be able to use an idea you never thought would amount to anything. That is the beauty of having all your ideas written down before you in one place.

The more that you write in your journal, the more helpful it will become. You will be able to see how your thought process on plots or line structures has developed over time. Old ideas will captivate you when you least suspect it. And soon, that old block you felt standing in the way of your ability to generate original ideas should start to wear away.

This month’s theme is IDEAS. If you have written something that you would like me to share on this blog on the theme of original ideas, then please post a link in the comments or email me on with the subject: Ideas.


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