Flex your muscles: Write a journal

Singers do it.

Musicians do it.

Athletes do it, too.

So, what exactly is “it?”

I’m talking about warm ups, flexing muscles and practicing to help them get up to speed before their respective concerts, races and games.

Why shouldn’t writers do it?

And, how should writers warm up?

Write a journal.

Notable authors known to have kept journals include:

  • Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  • Beatrix Potter
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • George Bernard Shaw
  • Lewis Carroll
  • Louisa May Alcott
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

I wonder, did they keep journals because they liked to write books, or did they write books because they kept journals? Did keeping a journal warm up their writing “muscles” and help make them successful?

I remember a million years ago in high school, at the beginning of every English class, we had to write in our journals for 10 minutes, and when I think back I now realize that that was when I found creative writing the easiest of any other time in my life so far.

There are various types of journals that you can keep, but from a writer’s perspective I think a free form journal where anything and everything can go as the inspiration takes you, is probably the best. Fill your journal with whatever is on your mind at the time. Write stories in it, or on days where your brain is in a spasm and you can’t think of anything else to contribute to your journal, just write about the weather or what you had for breakfast so that you don’t get out of the habit of writing in your journal every day.

There are mental health benefits to journaling as well.  Writing a journal daily can:

  •  Help you clarify your thoughts and focus on your priorities
  • Get a clearer understanding of yourself
  • Put things in a better perspective and reduce stresses and frustrations

So, how to keep a journal is the next obvious question:

  • Decide whether to write in a book or on your computer. I prefer to write my thoughts on good old fashioned paper for this. For me, it just seems easier to put thoughts to paper quite literally.
  • Find a place free of distractions. If you’re writing on a computer, unless it’s a laptop, your options here might be limited.
  • Find a time when you can have a few minutes without interruptions. My best times are first thing in the morning before I have to start into my work and routine, or last thing at night after all the critters around here are fed and the television is off and I’m just about to crawl into bed.

At first it might seem strange to write your random thoughts down, but with practice, after you’ve warmed up those writing muscles, you’ll find that it gets easier and easier, and I’m willing to bet that the rest of your writing gets easier, too.

Do you journal? If so, tell me more in the comments. I’d like to know about your experiences.


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