I love my writer’s journal. It’s an essential part of my writing process, and things flow so much better when I use it.
I write in it when I’m about to start a chapter, and I need to jot down some thoughts without the pressure of having to make sense. I write down what the chapter is about, what I want to achieve and how I feel about it. Sometimes it becomes a detailed outline with the general gist of how a piece of dialogue is going to go. Other times it’s just what I think the character is feeling and why. Sometimes I’ll keep the journal open next to me when I’m writing the chapter for inspiration, other times I’ll close it and not open it again until I’m ready for the next chapter. It’s all very flexible.
The beauty is that it helps me get rid of the panic of the blank page at the start of a chapter, and revs my writing engines. Usually, I don’t get any of my manuscript done on the days I write in the journal due to time / energy constraints, but as I use it so infrequently (maybe once a week), it doesn’t really matter. It gets things going, and that’s the main thing.