You Do Have a Writer's Journal, Don't You?

Every writer should have a writer's journal, at least to keep track of random ideas or thoughts. 

A good writer's journal can do so much more, though. It doesn't matter if it's a physical or digital journal either.

Here are some ideas on what can go into your writer's journal and how you can keep it organized. 

1. Project Notebooks or Journals

You can keep several journals or notebooks for different projects, novels, and stories. They can contain tabbed sections for:

  • brainstorming 
  • printed drafts
  • plot or outline
  • world-building
  • language creation
  • setting
  • character sketches
  • research notes

These kinds of journals are great to reference back to when you are in the middle of writing and you can't remember specific details such as eye color or town names.

Or when you're writing the fifth novel in your series, and it's been a few years and you can't remember what your fantasy characters call that certain magic ritual.

A binder is a great place for this kind of notebook or you can also put all this story info into a Google Drive folder or the Scrivener binder for that project (what I usually do). 

2. General Writer's Notebook or Journal

It's also smart to keep a general writer's journal or notebook. This notebook can contain a variety of things to keep you organized or keep track of things.

Keeping everything in one place will be handy when you have to travel or just want to carry your writing stuff around with you.

A binder or regular notebook is great for this, as well as an app like Evernote (what I use; that's an affiliate link).

So what should go into your writer's journal?

  • story ideas 
  • journal or diary entries
  • long-term and short-term writing goals
  • reading list
  • quotes or articles that motivate or inspire you
  • favorite writing-related blog posts 
  • go-to writing templates (such as character templates)

3. Writing Goals Notebook

This is my favorite kind of writer's notebook because it really is crucial when it comes to reaching daily and bigger writing goals. 

A spiral notebook or small journal is perfect for this. 

You can write down your long-term, yearly, or quarterly goals in the front, where you can see them every day.

I like to break down my yearly goals into quarterly chunks. Big goals seem so much more doable to me that way.

I look at these quarterly goals often and write down some monthly goals from there. And then I break those down into what I need to be doing this week. I write those down.

Finally, I decide what I need to be doing each day.  

It sounds like a lot, but I've never made more solid progress on my goals.

If you're using a small notebook, you can use one page each day for your daily writing goals. Or create a weekly page layout if you have a larger notebook. 

An app like Wunderlist or Evernote (what I use; that's an affiliate link) is also great for this, but lately, I've loved going analog for goals. 

How to Keep Your Writing Journal or Notebook Organized

No matter what kind of writer's journal you end up creating, it's important to keep everything inside organized. How can you do that? 

Easy. With a table of contents. 

If you're doing this in a journal or notebook, leave the first three to six pages blank, depending on how many pages there are in the journal.

If you're using a binder, you can have a couple of pages in the very front for this and insert more as you need them. 

These first pages will serve as the table of contents.

Let's say your journal has 100 pages. You are going to number down the lines until you get to 100. You can use the front or both front and back of the pages. Up to you.

Every time you write something or insert something into your notebook or journal, you are going to label it with a page number in the corner.

Then, you're going to turn to the table of contents, find the right page number, and give that page an appropriate title.

So when you want to look at your list of writing ideas, you open up your notebook, and instead of flipping through pages and pages, you go to the table of contents to find exactly what you're looking for. 

What else should go in your writer's journal?