Keeping a journal: from child’s play to expert

I’m a writer. As a writer you are told that to journal is the perfect way to put your feelings into words. I don’t doubt this at all! But what I also know is this: I have spent too much money on cutesy notebooks only to fill two pages and then abandon them along with the other rejected, hipster stationery.

It’s not that I fail to put things into words, it’s the fact that I would rather use my language skills to communicate with others instead of keeping my thoughts and ideas a secret.

So on the one hand I don’t feel the need to reread what has happened in my life because, well, I was there; but on the other hand, maybe a journal is a sounding board to bounce my ideas off of.  Of course this is only feasible if I learn to use this powerful hobby the right way!

How to keep a journal to improve your writing skills:

1. Read so that others can understand it, or at least be moved by it.

Attempting to quantify emotions or describe an event that you were a part of in a journal is easy because you are the point of reference. You have a complete understanding of the emotion or occurrence, so your words will always make sense because they were written by you, for you.

When using your journal as an idea sounding board, you are essentially communicating with others (or, eventually you will). So now you must delve deeper into critical thinking. How would you explain the conditions to someone who wasn’t there or isn’t feeling the same emotion? How can you get others to understand it, exactly the way that you do?

2. Remember that you are still keeping this booklet for your personal writing journey.

When you write something personal for others’ understanding you engage with yourself more thoroughly thus understanding yourself better too! Expressing your emotions may even help you process them because you are forced to recalibrate these feelings to a new audience. This sincerity is a valuable attribute of a writer.

3. Find your audience! All readers have different styles.

I for one, thrive with a specific audience. The way that I write may make some readers think that I am ‘a narcissistic, naïve writer who craves the spotlight’. But that is merely their perception.

My ideal audience would understand that when I produce the work that I do, it is because I am an emotion-centric writer and that you are merely observing the surface of my mind when you read my words. Readers should be curious; dig a little deeper into what different writers are saying.

That said, as a copywriter, this fact has also taught me to change my writing style to accommodate the way others think even if I can’t please every prospective reader. And I couldn’t have done it without my journal!

4. Carry on practicing.

When you have an intimate conversation you are forced to voice your feelings in a way you think the receiver will understand. But when you write, you can reword your thoughts over and over. The more you do this, the better you will get at writing, communicating and understanding your thought process and the thought processes of others.

Here at Starbright, we are constantly communicating in an effort to understand each other so that we succeed together. Every day that I work here is a full journal entry’s worth! It is almost like a squash court where every ball that hits the wall is a brand new idea bouncing to a variety of different readers and personalities.

Luckily we’re pretty accomplished squash players here. We catch the ricocheting ball; we truly understand it; it is more than just some metaphorical rubber. We communicate and play as a team to produce the exact content that your audience likes to read!