I often feel that my writer’s brain is a jumbled mess of incomplete thoughts and ideas, so over the years I developed a system of longhand notebooks as a way to stave off that maniacal panic that, for me, is linked to being a writer.
Having a separate notebook to put particular kinds of thoughts and ideas goes a long way in helping to organize my mind. Writing my thoughts on paper manifests these ideas in a way that typing or speaking them does not. It’s almost as if the physical act of writing calls my thoughts into being and allows me to let go of them without worrying they have simply slipped into the ether, never to be recalled again.
I’ve always made good use of my planners and have recently switched to bullet journaling. If you don’t know about it, bullet journalling is an easy, intuitive, and fast way of tracking all of your tasks, projects, and goals in one spot, and I highly recommend giving it a go to see if it works well for you.
I often think of my personal journal as a pensieve: a place to dump my thoughts and memories so that I can review them later and clear some space in my mind for more focused thinking. Once I write something in my journal I can let it go because I know where it will be if I ever need to come back to it.
I also use my personal journal for a daily writing practice called Morning Pages. It’s a pretty simple concept that yields BIG results. Basically, you just write three longhand pages every morning when you first wake up. The practice helps wake up your brain and get your creative thoughts a-whirling when you’re just out of Dreamland.
Artists usually travel with a sketchpad so they can draw while they are waiting for the bus or on a break at work. It’s a way of practicing and keeping their creative minds active even when they are not in front of their easel. For me, a writing journal serves much the same purpose and I might even go so far as to call it my sketch book, since most of what I do is write descriptive scenes or bits of dialogue that come into my head. It’s a place for me to practice my writing wherever I am and to always keep that part of my creative self awake and prepared for when it’s really time to get down to the business of writing.
In addition to the above-mentioned 3 notebooks, I always have a pocket-sized notebook on-the-go so I can pop it into my purse and bring it places I wouldn’t be able to bring a full-sized notebook. My personal favourite is one by Kikkerland called the WritersBlok which is a double sided notebook with both ruled and chart paper. It’s the perfect size to tote around with me no matter what I’m doing, and fits my gold Cross pen perfectly in the side spiral!
Do you keep any kind of longhand writing journal or practice daily writing exercises that I haven’t mentioned? Share your own writing habits in the comments section below!