Positive Writer

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7 Incredible Reasons Every Writer Needs a Journal

Note: This is another awesome guest post by Frank McKinley, he’s a writing coach, a blogger, an idea guy, and an entrepreneur. He lives in Georgia with his wife, 2 kids, and a Labrador named Jake. His website is www.frankmckinleyauthor.com.

You’ve heard that Bryan Hutchinson published his memoir from the pages of his journal and that he’s now teaching a course, The Art of Positive Journaling.

You’ve seen beautiful pictures of journals for sale on Amazon.

You know that in court a diary (another word for a journal) is powerful and sometimes condemning evidence.

You know a journal can help you design your life. So, I have to ask…

Do you have a journal?

If you’re a writer, you need one. You write every day, don’t you? A journal is a great place to do it.

It doesn’t matter if it’s on real paper or in an app. What matters is that you have a safe space to express yourself – and do it often.

But there might be something standing in the way. Let’s look at 3 excuses for not keeping a journal – so you can reject them and get started!

3 Excuses for Not Keeping a Journal

1) No time.

We all have 24 hours a day. Do you know where you spend all your time?

  • You work a day or night job.
  • You have a family to take care of.
  • You are addicted to Netflix.

You don’t work 24 hours a day. Your family probably doesn’t mind you taking a little “me” time. It’s your choice to spend your disposable time as you wish.

Why not use it to write?

2) You don’t know how to journal.

There aren’t hard and fast rules. In fact, you don’t have to obey any rules.

Except one.

Be yourself.

When you journal, you’re writing for you. You don’t have to share it. You don’t have to critique it. Just do it.

In fact, in Bryan’s course The Art of Journaling, he presents no rules, but rather specific guides to help you get the most out of your writing.

3) You think your writing style is good enough already.

You’re probably an engaging writer. When you share, don’t people like your stuff?

Allow me to employ a sports analogy.

Michael Jordan was one of the greatest basketball players of all time. He scored more points, made more money, and had more fans than most.

What was his secret?

He stuck to the basics.

Every day he shot baskets. He knew that if he didn’t, his skills would suffer.

It’s the same with writing. The more you write, the better writer you become.

Now let’s flip the switch and see why journaling can be the best thing you ever did to make your writing shine.

7 Incredible Reasons You Should Be Journaling

1) Journaling provides a safe place to let it all out.

What do you do when you know no one is watching?

Do you sing karaoke like you just don’t care?

Do you explore the deep recesses of the latest political scandal?

Do you pretend to be a superhero who is able to save everyone from the direst danger?

Your imagination has no limits when you have no critics.

Your imagination has no limits when you have no critics. (Click to Tweet)

Use your journal to test out your wild ideas. You can shape them into more presentable suggestions when you edit.

But then again, maybe it’s better to be unreasonable.

You’ll never know if you don’t let your thoughts roam aimlessly on paper.

2) Journaling helps you find the voice within that is buried by propriety.

You’re nice to people because you don’t want them to kill you.

You hold back something you should say because you’re afraid you’ll offend someone.

When you’re alone at your desk, you can say whatever you want.

No one will come through the screen and squeeze your neck until you choke.

No one will smear your name on social media.

No one will unfriend you because you had the gall to say that.

Chances are, if you’re not sure whether you should say something, you probably should. It won’t be as bad as you think in the end.

3) Journaling makes you more creative.

I’m an idea guy. I have to keep paper around me all the time to capture all my thoughts.

Otherwise, they’ll disappear into the universe – into a corner I can’t reach no matter how hard I try.

It’s not enough to just think things out in your head. When you write them down, you can process, analyze, and rearrange them any way you like.

The result will be a lot better than if you just tossed the mess around mentally.

4) Journaling helps you develop your ideas.

Call it brainstorming on paper.

It doesn’t matter how you do it. You can mindmap, freewrite, or make a list. Getting more senses involved increases your effectiveness.

I created my Facebook group this way. I wrote down my ideas, all 783 of them. I talked with people who could help me. I tested, tested, and tested again.

Then I repeated the process.

Another name for this is continuous improvement.

Journal to improve yourself.

5) Journaling gives you something to edit.

Bryan wrote his best-selling memoir, One Boy’s Struggle, first in his journal.

For all the preceding reasons, journaling makes great first drafts. In fact, you may find that your drafts are less crappy because you took the time to flesh out your idea, write it in your own voice, and say the things that scare you.

It’s a lot easier to edit something awesome.

If you think I’m kidding, consider that Bryan was an “unknown” before publishing his memoir.

Bryan wrote his story therapeutically for himself in his journal. Now, look what happened!

Have you seen that Harvard doctor interviewed on TV all of the time, Dr. Hallowell? The one who wrote Driven to Distraction. Yep, that guy. This is what he had to say about Bryan’s memoir:

“Want to find out what it’s like to grow up with ADHD? Read One Boy’s Struggle by Bryan Hutchinson. It’s a real eye opener. A must read!”

This isn’t to promote Bryan’s memoir, he’s actually taken it off of the market to update it, so you can’t buy it anyway. No, it’s to show…

Journaling. Matters.

6) Journaling gives you a place to be honest.

You won’t share everything in your journal.

Your journal is your safe place. You can be yourself in all your tainted glory. You can sing karaoke like a king. You can rant and rave and rant again. You can say the stuff that bothers you and annoys everyone else.

Once you’ve got your real heart on paper, you can shape your public writing into something that will change lives.

7) Journaling helps you write more conversationally.

When I was young, I wrote a lot.

Much of it was talking to myself about what was going on in my life. I wrote it like I’d write a letter to a friend – and I was that friend.

All good writing follows this principle. When you picture someone reading your work, you write a letter. When you picture a captive audience, you give a lecture.

As a kid, I hated lectures.

I still do.

You want to capture my attention? Write your post like a letter to me. I’ll love reading it. I’ll take your advice. And I’ll tell my friends how great you are!

Start Your Brighter Future Now

Are you journaling yet?

Even if you don’t have an official journal, the principles here will make you a better, more engaging writer – one who starts a movement and leads his tribe to greatness.

Bryan’s new course The Art of Positive Journaling is something I really think you should check out. I’ve gone through the entire course and it has expanded my horizons dramatically. I’m a believer! He’s just opened the course for a limited time, so do yourself a favor and go sign-up now.

Journal your way to a brighter future – where all your dreams come true!

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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  • Frank McKinley

    Hi, I’m Frank McKinley. I’d love to hear your stories, answer your questions, and get to know you as a writer and an artist. Let’s talk!

  • EdieMelson

    I love this! I’m a HUGE fan of journaling for writers and really anyone. Two of my own books came from the pages of journals I’ve kept, one a prayer journal while our son was deployed and another journal while I was raising my kids. Thanks so much for this post and this series!

    • Frank McKinley

      Edie, I’ll bet those journals are full of treasures. Glad to contribute – and so glad you enjoyed this!

  • samcarter44

    Great post! I’ve kept a journal for over four years. It has given me a lot of insight into myself, my faith, and my life. Thanks for posting this. Putting it in my blog posts to keep file.

    • Frank McKinley

      Fantastic, Sam! I’m so glad your journal has helped you so much. It’s an honored to be in your files!

  • Judy Peterman Blackburn

    I like all these reasons especially the first one, need a safe place to write what’s in my heart. Thank you for great post. 🙂

    • Frank McKinley

      You’re welcome, Judy! There’s nothing like those safe places. 🙂

  • Danielle Bernock

    Love this. Great advice. My journals were invaluable in writing my book. My favorite line – Your imagination has no limits when you have no critics.

    • Frank McKinley

      Thanks, Danielle. It’s true. When you’re unfettered, your mind has unlimited possibilities.

  • I to love Journals. I have had more than I could count over the years. Some in beautiful bound books others on the computer. But all have held my thoughts which have turned into stories or one kind or another. I recently moved and the one thing I refused t o leave behind were those journals. Because they held so much of who I was and am. Ive seen things repeated in my life that I have turned into non fiction pieces of things n life that bug me or need to change in society. Maybe some day I will find the right venue for them…
    ( one which will not get me in trouble and get benefits I receive taken away.)

    They say when something tragic happens it spurs those left behind a platform to change things. One day I hope my writing does that. Until then I will keep journaling.

    • Frank McKinley

      Debra, Thanks for sharing your story of journaling. I may not have as many as you, but at pivotal times in my life, my journals have kept me sane, and maybe even kept me alive. I sincerely hope your journals will yield some gold for others one day!