Better Writing: Use Your Journal to Improve Your Writing

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Writing is all about words and ideas. They combine to make angels of meaning. I think of writing as wrestling those angels of meaning onto a page.

If you keep a journal, you can improve your writing dramatically. Here’s how.

Capture Your Ideas in Your Journal

Human beings are idea-generating machines. Ideas pop out of our heads at the most amazing times. You might be walking your dog, exercising, or taking a shower when, “Boom!” the big idea you need jumps into your brain.

You’d better capture it quickly. If you don’t, it will fly away like a butterfly on the wind, never to be seen or heard from again.

Start by capturing your ideas when you have them. Some people carry a small pocket notebook with them everywhere. Other people capture their ideas on index cards. I’m one of many people who use a small digital recorder. Whatever you do, capture the idea as quickly as possible. Otherwise, that great idea will get away.

“Okay,” you’re probably wondering, “what does this have to do with my journal?” Capturing those great ideas in the wild is just the first step. Next, capture them in your journal. When it’s time to work with your journal, pull out your pocket notebook, index cards, or go through your digital captures. Put those ideas in your journal, along with any thoughts you have at the time. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to do two other important things.

Sharpen Your Ideas in Your Journal

When you’re entering an idea in your journal, let your mind roam. Play with the idea. If you’re like most people, one idea will spark others. Capture them and write them down.

You’re not limited to writing. Use visual techniques like mind mapping or Sketchnotes.

By now, that original idea has probably morphed into something more interesting and, perhaps, usable. You’ve still got one more step.

Link Up Your Ideas and Put Them to Work

Some ideas are good enough to spark a writing project all by themselves. That’s not usually the case, though. Ideas are much more potent when they’re in a pack.

Review your journal and listen for that click in your head when you see two ideas come together. You can capture those combined ideas in your journal or pull them out to use immediately. Use the combined ideas for your writing project.

Use your journal to make your life and your writing better.

Takeaways

Capture your ideas in your journal.

Sharpen your ideas by writing and drawing in your journal.

Collect your ideas from your journal for a writing project.

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