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Many people keep journals as a record of the happenings of the day and their feelings about them. Writers use journals in a different way. Instead of recording what happened each day, they write in a journal on a regular basis to find out more about themselves. They use their journal as a place to polish their voice and keep it strong.

You can do anything you want in your journal. Itís your own space. There are no rules or structure except what you decide on. The main purpose of a journal is to help you get used to putting ideas on paper.

Ways to Get Started

  • Take time at the end of each day to record images, events, and scenes that have stuck with you
  • Write down details you recall
  • Make notes about other images or events the dayís images and events suggest to you
  • Explore what the things you remember tell you about yourself
  • Write freely for ten minutes using an image, event, or scene from the day as a starting point
  • Reread what you wrote on other days and develop ideas that strike you


Use your journal as a place to

  • play with words or phrases
  • tell stories from different points of view
  • compose a brief autobiography
  • express opinions on issues
  • apply different tones (for example: humorous, tragic, animated, dry, somber) to your writing
  • create dialogue
  • copy the style of other writers
  • write a letter to yourself, to someone else, or to no one in particular
  • review books you have read or films you have seen

If you keep a journal faithfully, you will find that it is more than a place to practice writing. It is a place to store your personal experience. And every good writer knows that personal experience is the most valuable resource for writing.