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Writing

How to Write Better: 5 Benefits of Journaling

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Oct 2, 2020 • 3 min read

If you’ve ever struggled to remember a great idea you had in the past or wished you had a more concrete recollection of important life events, you might want to consider keeping a journal. Journals are a great way to catalogue the everyday events of your life as well as formulate and record new creative ideas as they occur to you. Journals are an invaluable place for you to practice your craft as a writer and develop your writing skills.

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What Is Journaling?

Journaling is simply the act of informal writing as a regular practice. Journals take many forms and serve different purposes, some creative some personal. Writers keep journals as a place to record thoughts, practice their craft, and catalogue ideas as they occur to them. Journals are often a place for unstructured free writing, but sometimes people use writing prompts (also known as journaling prompts).

Many non-writers keep journals to record the day-to-day events in their own lives, process stressful events, problem-solve, or keep to-do lists. Another popular form of journal is a gratitude journal. Gratitude journaling is a journaling experience meant to take stock of the positive things in your life in order to boost your self-esteem and improve your overall well-being. No matter what type of journal you keep, it’s a great way to force yourself to start writing and engage in a process of self-improvement. Learn about why Joyce Carol Oates finds journaling important for writers in our article here.

What Are the Benefits of Journaling for Writers?

There are many benefits of journal writing. These include personal growth, improved communication skills, and increased self awareness. Developing a journaling practice can help you deal with negative thoughts and stress management by prompting journal writers engage in a daily practice of self-reflection and self-discovery. For writers the benefits of journal writing are especially profound:

  • Journaling forces you to practice the act of writing. One of the simplest benefits of a daily journal is that it forces you to develop a consistent writing practice. Facing the blank page is one of the hardest things facing a writer. By journaling regularly, young writers can develop their writing skills and demystify the process through practice.
  • Journaling allows you to explore new ideas. Another benefit of journal writing is having a place to formulate and record ideas for other pieces of writing. It’s also a venue for problem-solving. Many accomplished writers and even successful people in non-creative fields keep idea journals as a place to track thoughts that occur to them that they may want to expand upon or revisit at a later date. As a writer, a journal can also be a useful place to free write and formulate ideas on the page.
  • Journaling enables you to break through writer’s block. Writer’s block is an incredibly common problem that confronts writers at every level. By keeping a personal journal and writing journal entries on a daily basis, you can combat writer’s block by keeping the creative juices flowing and feeling free to write without the pressure of a final product looming over you.
  • Journaling allows you to practice stream of consciousness writing. One approach that many writers find useful is stream of consciousness free writing. Some writers refer to their daily free writing journal entry as morning pages, a term popularized in the book The Artist’s Way. Stream of consciousness writing can help you develop ideas that wouldn’t otherwise occur to you.
  • Journaling provides a space to practice expressive writing without pressure. One of the biggest journaling benefits is the ability to start writing free from the pressure of a formal written piece. Journals give you a place to jot down whatever half-formed, unpolished ideas occur to you in the moment. All you need to develop a regular journaling practice is blank pages, a pen, and paper.

Journals take many different forms but no matter what type of journal you keep or how regularly you choose to write, the benefits of writing in a journal are many. Keeping up a consistent journaling practice can help you improve your writing and potentially change your life. Learn more about how to journal with our complete guide.

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