Sue Grafton is one of my heroes. When she was the Guest of Honor and spoke at Crime Bake 2009, I learned that she keeps a writing journal in a computer file for each novel. Every day, she opens both the manuscript file and the journal file. When her brain stops working in one file, she switches to the other. She says this helps her to keep going. Happily, her journals are online at www.suegrafton.com/journal-notes.php.
An online writing journal. A terrific idea—but it soon escaped my sieve-like brain. This May I opened a book called Writers Dreaming by Naomi Epel, in which writers describe how their dreaming mind aids their writing. In the book, Sue Grafton again described how her journaling helps her write her novels.
This time the idea took. I decided to give it a try. So, for the last few months, I’ve been keeping my own writer’s journal.
So far this experiment works well. In the morning, I open the journal file and reflect on how my writing is going, what problems I’m struggling with and my goals for the day. After breakfast, I open both the manuscript file and journal the file and work in each as needed.
Another tip from Sue Grafton is that from time to time she re-reads her entire journal. I’m not sure I believed her when she advised that such a re-reading will often remind you of problems you’ve already solved. As it turns out, her observation was right on. Which I learned the first time I re-read my whole journal and found, staring back at me, the answer to a then-current problem.
For this helpful advice on how to improve my writing process, I thank you, Sue Grafton.
How about you? Do you use a writing journal? If so, how does it work for you? Is there some other advice from a favorite author you have found particularly useful?