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Return to Articles about Writing Tips

Beat the Block with a Journal

by: Mridu Khullar

Itís nearing the end of summer, and I have no credentials to my benefit these holidays. As the end of the holidays approach, I keep wondering what I have to show for the summer other than the noticeable tan, and the load of incomplete articles adorning my computer.

Having nothing to write about can be exasperating. But having plentiful to do, and not doing it out of sheer laziness or lack of interest is a whole other story. I have articles months old that havenít seen the light of day. Ah, if only I could complete them. But procrastination and laziness stand in the way. Iíve been telling myself that itís the heat, but with the temperatures going down again, I'm not even left with that excuse.

I have seemingly divorced myself from the half-written articles that sit there waiting on some remote folder in my computer. Somehow, I never get to completing something if I leave it midway. And this time is no different. I ended up opening the files, reading their contents, closing them with a mental note that they needed to be finished and went back to my Need for Speed racing adventure.

After an endless round of mindless car racing, I decided it was time to get back to work. Having nothing to write about, I thought Iíd try my hand at a journal. Writers are always saying that keeping journals spark up your creativity, but somehow I never thought Iíd be writing in one. Iíd always wondered why a writer would waste her precious time writing in a journal, when she could be earning money, writing those words in an article or story.

So, I began Mission Journal by simply opening up my word processor and writing the first thing that came into my mind. Incidentally, I started rambling about how much I had wanted to achieve but with a drastic case of writerís block having swept over me the last few days, my ambitions had been reduced to dust. Before I knew it, I had written two thousand words, simply on why I couldnít write and how it was playing havoc with my spirit.

I hate to admit it, but the truth is Ė I was wrong. A journal is not a waste of a writerís time. Itís a learning process. When a computer professional sits down to learn a new programming language, heís not wasting his time. Heís preparing himself for situations in which his programming skills could come in handy. Similarly, a journal can be the resource a writer digs into when sheís at a loss of ideas and canít find anything to write about. It gives the writer practice she needs every single day, and enables her to create a much desired momentum in her writing.

The day I started writing in my journal, was the day my month-long block finally came to an end. And as I wrote, I found my mind racing faster than my fingers could type. Soon, I was writing not only about my day, but also my holidays, my last semester and the last time the family went on a holiday together. Incidents kept springing to my mind and I was caught in the adrenalin rush. I was writing!

I had needed a spark for my creativity, and the journal had done just that. It had made given me the push that I needed to start, and once I was writing, the ideas and the words came to me like they had never left my side.

Journals give the writer the three things she needs most: Practice, Motivation and Ideas.

Now, everyday before I begin writing my articles or stories, I simply pen down a page in my journal. If I donít feel like writing on paper, Iíve maintained a journal on my computer too. Not only do I get a jumpstart on my day, I also feel more energized and ready to write pages and pages of prose.

Journals can also be a great storehouse of ideas. When you think that youíve suddenly become unresponsive to the ideas around you or canít find a character to fit into your stories, peek into your journal, and youíll find something priceless there. The trip to the lake last summer or the fight with your neighbor might just become incidents in your next best seller.

Journals are not necessarily diaries in which you record your personal thoughts and feelings. They can be lists of goals, pet care tips, or simply freewriting that you do everyday before you get to work. They neednít even be focused on one topic Ė you can introduce random thoughts whenever and wherever you like. In writing a journal, there are no rules; you simply write what you want.

As of writing this, I maintain four journals to suit my different moods. I donít write in all of them everyday, but do try to write in at least one each day. On days that I donít have too much work to do, I spark my creativity by writing in all four. Who knew, that a journal would become my best friend?

About The Author

Mridu Khullar is the editor-in-chief of www.WritersCrossing.com, a free online magazine for writers. Sign up for the free weekly newsletter to get a complimentary e-book with 400+ paying markets. Also check out her e-book, "Knock Their Socks Off! A Freelance Writer's Guide to Query Letters That Sell," available at http://www.writerscrossing.com/queries.html

This article was posted on January 22, 2005

 

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