–Some writers refer to them as their journals, others call them notebooks or writer’s diary. And just as they all have different names, each writer uses them for many different purposes.

So out of a strong sense of curiosity and a need to learn what sort of things I should consider putting into my writer’s diary, I decided to ‘google’ and see what came up. [This is always a fun way to spend an hour/afternoon/day…….]

I began with Teralyn Rose Pilgrim’s blog ‘A Writer’s Journey’ where she shared her thoughts on the benefits of keeping a writer’s diary.

Basically she wanted to keep track of exactly how much time she spends actually writing. What a great idea!

But Teralyn went even further. By keeping a diary for a month she discerned the following:

  1. How long she wrote
  2. What she wrote
  3. What she’s struggling with (this one cinched it for me!)
  4. What else she did that day
  5. Why she didn’t write as much as she had planned

Her final suggestion is to write in short sentences, with just an outline given.

So exactly how will this work for me?

Well, each day I wake up, get dressed, go downstairs, turn on the computer, make a cup of tea, and then take my warm mug to sip as I check my e-mail, marking what needs to be read, which needs responding to, which has links I want to follow, and deleting the rest.

Then later in the morning, after the school run, I return to the computer with the intention of beginning my writing practice. Except that I usually get distracted and find something which catches my eye, and makes me forget the time…. Then the inevitable happens – an hour has passed by and I have done little more writing than respond to e-mails (yes they were important but they could have waited until later when I didn’t need to focus quite so intently upon their content).

And this is why I think keeping a daily diary of what exactly I have written on that day is such a wonderful idea – it is an aid or writing tool which helps me to keep track of myself, and forces me to be absolutely upfront and honest about how much writing I am really and truly doing!

–“2 hours of writing short story. 20 minutes editing one section and plotting a structure. 15 minutes writing this post for blog. ½ hour reading and responding and commenting to e-mails and other writing related blogs I follow. 10 minutes checking out She Writes and Romantic Fiction.org. 1 hour reading novel for enjoyment and research for novel.”

That’s it! Some days my entry is shorter, some days longer. I keep my writer’s journal in my LifeJournal for Writerson my lap top.

Other possibilities for future inclusion could be making note of any problems I am having with a story. So for example, if I were to include that for today, I would write about my difficulties with incorporating dialogue into my short story. I find it much easier to write about what’s happening, almost as if my stories are filled to overflowing with back stories of all the characters. Great fun to imagine and write! But eventually I shall have to go back and remove a lot of it, and in the process attempt to capture the essence of the back story in brief narrative and longer dialogue. A challenge to someone who is more used to writing book reviews than romantic short stories!

Finally I personally distinguish between a writer’s diary, as above, and a writer’s journal. For me a journal is the place to record any and every writing related idea, thought, dream, which strikes me and I know from experience is always best written down as soon as possible, before it dissipates and disappears! I know at the time I usually think my memory is good and that of course I will never forget that brilliant idea, but guaranteed, it will be gone within 5 minutes!

In point of fact I need to keep 2 writer’s journals on the go – 1 at home on my lap top, and the other a small notebook which fits into my handbag so I am ready and waiting when inspiration strikes! Note that Peggy Kurilla below strongly recommends that you be specific when jotting down your ideas so that you can recall exactly what it was that struck you!

Just make certain that your jotted notes are complete enough to trigger your memory later.  I once wrote (in my smorgasbord, which serves as general catch-all): “I have a great idea for a romantic suspense between a small-town sheriff and the big-city pagan who comes to live in his town.”

Hm.  Well, I’m sure it was a good idea.  I don’t remember a thing about it at this point, other than that note.  Knowing my themes and topics, there would probably have been some conflict between conservative Christian types and the pagan woman, but suspense?  I have no clue.  So I chalk this up to a lesson:  be specific in your idea notes.”

Do you keep a writer’s diary? What sort of things do you include in it?


Here are a few more links to excellent blog posts on keeping a writer’s journal –

–‘On Keeping a Writer’s Journal’ by Peggy Kurilla

—‘Keeping a Writer’s Journal: 21 ways to keep you writing’ by Sheila Bender

–‘A Writer’s Journal’ by Amber Lee Starfire