Positive Writer

Writing through doubt and fear, and you can, too!

How Creative Journaling Encouraged My Novel Writing

Note: This is a guest post by Shayla Raquel, an expert editor, seasoned writer, and author-centric marketer, Shayla Raquel works one-on-one with authors and business owners every day. She is the author of the Pre-Publishing Checklist and her novel-in-progress, The Suicide Tree. She lives in Oklahoma with her two dogs, Chanel and Wednesday. www.shaylaraquel.com

My sloppy cursive and teenage-angst-filled woes covered a couple dozen journals back in the day. But after college, my daily journal habit drifted away, replaced with the click-click-clack of my MacBook keyboard. So when Bryan Hutchinson asked me to write about journaling, I saw a golden opportunity for a new adventure: trying creative journaling for the first time.

I had an amazing experience with creative journaling, so I’ve got a few tips and words of advice for those looking to try it.

Get Your Supplies:

Don’t overthink creative journaling supplies. Just grab what you really, really like. For example, I set off to Hobby Lobby and purchased a colorful journal that said “Hello,” vibrant stickers—one set with llamas on it, because how could I resist?—and plenty of Sharpie markers.

Oh, did I mention Washi tape with gold diamond designs on it? I grabbed what I liked and did not follow any specific instructions. You can add in paint, glitter, photos—whatever! The point is that you buy supplies that show off your personality.

Choose Your Theme:

What would you like to use your journal for? I spent quality time brainstorming this part. Thanks to Pinterest, the juices started flowing! I finally decided to use my journal specifically for my novel-in-progress, The Suicide Tree. I interviewed myself about the novel and wrote the answer in my creative journal, which turned out to be motivating and encouraging.

Here are the questions I asked for a week. Make up some of your own!

  1. What inspired you to write The Suicide Tree? 
  1. What writing quote has motivated you in your writing? 
  1. What has been your biggest writing challenge with this novel? 
  1. What’s your favorite scene from The Suicide Tree? 
  1. Who was the inspiration behind Norah Delgado? 
  1. What are the settings in The Suicide Tree? 
  1. What are Knox Kevel’s flaws?

Embrace Your Inner Artist (or Don’t):

I found this time to be peaceful and enjoyable. I would sit at my kitchen table with all my supplies and ensure it was silent in the house. I’d ask my question of the day and take off! I did not practice or prepare in any way. I simply let my artistic side take over.

Now, I had a bad grade in Drawing 101 in college; but I didn’t let that stop me from having fun with the markers and stickers. My favorite session was drawing Norah Delgado and writing words that described her. Afterward, I posted the photo on Instagram and Facebook and asked, “Who does Norah remind you of?” I had great engagement from friends trying to guess.

The answer: Norah Delgado was inspired by Morticia Addams.

What Can You Use Your Creative Journal For?

As mentioned, I used mine for one specific novel; but you can use it for whatever you want. These ideas are nothing new; but what makes them special is seeing your artistic expression bring them to life. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Writing prompts
  • Blog posts and story brainstorming
  • Poetry and freewriting
  • Day-to-day journaling
  • Interviewing (get to know yourself better)
  • Your favorite quotes and lyrics
  • Glue favorite pictures into journal for inspiration
  • Countdown to special event
  • Interview your friends or other authors
  • Life milestones
  • Challenges you’re facing (and how they make you feel)
  • Memories
  • Dreams
  • Lessons you’ve learned from books

“The Art of Positive Journaling” is now open! I hope you’re as excited as I am. 

Click here to join.

~Bryan

How Did Creative Journaling Help Me?

I don’t know that I have writer’s block. I have “I’m stuck in a canyon of plot holes and can’t get out.” Because of this conundrum, I’m always looking for outlets to help me overcome my challenges and stay focused on writing my novel. I will definitely stick to creative journaling, because it:

  • Forced me to have quiet time with my thoughts and my creativity;
  • Connected me to my characters so I could develop them more; and
  • Helped me find the positive things in my novel rather than focusing on the negative.

Have you ever tried creative journaling? Have you ever used it to help you with your own book?

I hope you join us in Bryan’s new course! Click here to check it out.

About Bryan Hutchinson

I'm a positive writer and when that doesn't work, I eat chocolate. I help fellow writers overcome doubt and thrive! In my free time, I love visiting castles with my wife, Joan. Join me on Twitter and Facebook.

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Like a good friend, Bryan guides you through the process of facing your inner demons, conquering the craft, and creating work that matters. ―Jeff Goins

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  • Shayla Lee Raquel

    Thank you so much for asking me to write this, Bryan. It was fun; but I learned so much along the way. I hope others are inspired to give it a try. —Shayla Raquel

  • Johanne Winwood

    I always worry that my journal won’t be as pretty as the ones on Pinterest or Facebook. However, you have given me the confidence to have another go! After all, I don’t have to show it to anyone else, do I?

    • Shayla Lee Raquel

      I worried about that too, and then I just went for it. I thought, I don’t have to make mine look like a masterpiece—I just need to express myself the way I see fit. Happy journaling!

  • samcarter44

    This is wonderful! I will definitely be sharing and putting this in my blog posts to keep folder.

    • Shayla Lee Raquel

      Thank you so much! I’m really glad you enjoyed the post.

  • Judy Peterman Blackburn

    Wow, my journals are so boring. These are fun ideas and I would like to try them out. I’ll probably still stick with my “boring” school notebooks, but they are easiest for me and I like them. Thanks for some great ideas. 🙂

    • Shayla Lee Raquel

      You are so welcome! I am glad you enjoyed the post.

  • My husband is not going to be happy about this post. You just gave me the perfect excuse to buy more notebooks! I certainly don’t need excuses to buy notebooks and diaries, but you gave me interesting suggestion on how to use them more effectively. Thank you!

    • Shayla Lee Raquel

      Haha! Your poor hubby! I am glad you enjoyed the post. Happy journaling!

  • This kind of journaling is so fun and powerful, too. There’s nothing like a journal for getting your ideas out in the open or developed, among other things. Sounds very exciting!

    • Shayla Lee Raquel

      Thank you! It has been so much fun. I hope you’ll give it a try!