Today I want to talk about a topic that came up online recently — what is the difference between a Writer’s Journal and a Writer’s Notebook?
It’s all just a bunch of OCD writers once again obsessing about stuff that doesn’t matter, you say? Oh, you are so wrong.
Not only does this stuff matter, it matters A LOT.
At least to us writer types.
Let me explain.
Writers’ Journals are kind of like specialized diaries. This is where you put all the writing that should probably never see the light of day.
- If you do daily writing prompts — this is where you put your responses to those prompts. Five ways to describe a dung beetle!
- If you spend the first ten minutes of every writing day writing I don’t know what to write today. Do that here.
- If you’re thrashing around, trying to nail down a difficult scene that’s not quite ready to be introduced to the rest of your manuscript, this is a good place to do your thrashing.
- If you need to get the boring, every day stuff off your chest before you can be creative, then unload that crap here.
- If you sometimes find yourself compulsively writing Zarry or BTS fan fiction, because … well, just because — then this is a safe space for it.
Writers’ Notebooks, on the other hand, are where you get to live as a writer.
Here’s what goes in your notebook:
- Your thoughts, feelings, ideas, opinions, observations, bits of overheard conversation
- Pick a place, like a coffee shop, and move around the room listing the things you hear, smell, taste, wonder about — you can use these bits to flesh out a setting or a scene later on
- It’s where you collect random — or not so random — ideas
- Bits of poetry or song lyrics you like
- Topics and themes that are important to you, or that you find yourself coming back to over and over again
- Character sketches of strangers
- Bits of dialogue — even if you don’t know who will be saying this dialogue yet
- Doodles or sketches of people or places that intrigue you for some reason
- Quotes from books or authors that turn you on
- Words that you just frigging like the sound of
- Lists of things
- Whatever else you feel like including — as long as it’s personal
Believe it or not, all of this stuff is valuable. These are the tiny bits of grit and sand your writer’s mind will use to create pearls.
So get yourself a couple of blank notebooks and make one your Journal and the other one your Notebook. Add something to each of them every day.
You’ll be glad you did!
Do you have a separate writer’s journal and writer’s notebook? Let me know in the Comments section.
Thanks for reading!