When I was a kid, a diary was that small, pink book with the flimsy lock that I never wrote in. These days, I find that journal writing is an indispensable part of my workday. It’s no secret that many of the world’s most creative writers have made a habit of keeping a journal. Use their wisdom to see why journal writing is one of the most important tools at your disposal.
Consider this quote from Franz Kafka:
In the diary you find proof that in situations which today would seem unbearable, you lived, looked around and wrote down observations, that this right hand moved then as it does today, when we may be wiser because we are able to look back upon our former condition, and for that very reason have got to admit the courage of our earlier striving in which we persisted even in sheer ignorance.
We’ve all run up against impossible odds – deadlines that are getting too close, the accidentally deleted document or a client that proves to be impossible to please. When you find yourself faced with a sticky situation, the things you’ve written in your journal are proof that you’ve prevailed in the past, and you can do it again.
Practice Makes Perfect
It was Virginia Woolf who said, “The habit of writing thus for my own eye is only good practice. It loosens the ligaments.” Now, I’m not sure that the brain has ligaments, but the rest of Woolf’s statement is true: The best strategy to beat writer’s block is to write. If you habitually write in a diary, even if it’s only mundane stuff, you’ll become accustomed to producing a constant flow of words. In time, it will get easier to produce a constant flow of the right words, and your bouts of writer’s block will be fewer and farther between.
A Place to Keep Ideas
In this interview with The New Yorker, best-selling author David Sedaris said,
I’ve been keeping a diary for thirty-three years and write in it every morning. Most of it’s just whining, but every so often there’ll be something I can use later: a joke, a description, a quote. It’s an invaluable aid when it comes to winning arguments. “That’s not what you said on February 3, 1996,” I’ll say to someone.
Have you ever stood in line at the grocery store when a killer call-to-action or closing sentence hit? By the time you get home, the idea is long gone. This is where a pocket diary or a journal app on your phone comes in handy. As far as evidence goes, that’s why I only ask my husband for stuff via text message. When he comes home without the gallon of milk I wanted, at least I can feel smug as I show him the messages he ignored.
A diary isn’t simply a method to file away your secrets, hopes, or dreams. It’s a valuable tool whether you’re a part-time blogger or a celebrated novelist.
Amber K enjoys writing about home improvement, gardening, and the great outdoors. When she’s not sitting in front of a computer, she can be found developing strategies to conquer the world -– or at least her own little piece of it!