~ Start with a Journal ~
The beginning of a new year is always a good time to review what one has accomplished and to look forward to what might be one’s goals for the new year. A journal is a great place to start.
There are many different ways to do this. Since I am a long time journaler, I like to begin the year by starting a new journal (made of recycled paper, of course) and listing my goals and plans at the front.
Throughout the year, I use the journal to jot notes about my current writing projects and accomplishments, my ad campaigns, and character and plot development for my current writing projects.
Making My Journal Useful
Using a trick I learned from bullet journaling, I number the pages so I can create an index at the back. To create the index, I start on the last page and work backwards. That way I can quickly find the information I need.
Another trick I use is to fold over the upper right-hand corner for each new writing project. I color-code the tab to make it easy to find. I also use sticky notes to mark the place I am at in the journal.
Dating everything and recording everything in time order is also important. Not only does this show me what progress I am making, but later if I am having trouble finding a data file or remembering when I did something I can check my journal.
I Don’t Care How My Journal Looks
What I don’t do is try to make the journal pretty. Time is limited, and I want to spend as much of it as I can on writing. For me, the important thing is to get the information recorded in whatever way I can.
So while I occasionally mark a page with highlight markers, I do not add drawings or fancy colors unless I am sketching something to help me picture something in my writing such as a building, an interior, or a map.
I don’t worry about my handwriting. As long as it is legible, that’s all that matters. I cross out, insert, and don’t worry if I am not writing on the lines. It is my journal, and no one else needs to see it.
Advantages of a Handwritten Journal
Now, you are probably wondering why, with all the digital organizers out there, anyone would resort to handwritten notes? I do so for two reasons:
- It is much faster to scribble something down on the pad next to my computer or flip through the pages when I am in middle of writing than it is to open a new document, save it, and then find it again.
- At the end of December I can look back and have a cohesive picture of my writing year. I can see my struggles and my successes. From there I can easily transfer any important information or knowledge to my computer files or use it to plan my next year’s writing. To make it easy, I often just take a photograph of an important page or drawing and save that as a jpg file.
Find more more about my journaling see: Zara West’s Writing Journal
I also offer Bullet Journal Workshops for Readers and Writers. I do not have one currently scheduled, but if you are interested, contact me and I can set one up. For an individual, the cost is $15 for a two-week totally online workshop. You will learn how to set up and organize your journal and make it uniquely your own.
Do you keep a journal? Is it handwritten or digital?
Do you have any tips for keeping a journal?
I love to hear from my readers and fellow writers.