Splitting my head open

…to catch its content upon the page.

It doesn’t matter where I look, or what I read, I’m constantly reminded that I really do need to be keeping a writer’s journal. I have plenty of notepads, even leave a nice one with a pen by my bed always with the intention of writing in it as soon as I get up.

The problem is, as soon as my alarm clock goes off, my cat goes batshit crazy. If I wake before my alarm, my brain’s so fuzzy I forget what I thought I should be doing. In fact, I don’t even remember my intention to write at all until I’m awake, and on my way to work.

One of my course books refers to a writer’s notebook as a ‘creative compost heap’ that you write in ‘in a rapid, impulsive way’ (Creative Writing Handbook, p.33).

Things to explore in a notebook are listed, but not limited to:


In summary, don’t focus too much on ‘correct’ sentences. Just quickly write out as much detail as you can, such as small details and moving outwards to the larger picture. Ref: Virginia Woolf’s diary.

*Daily Events

Ref: Maugham’s notebooks.

*Writing Practice

‘The habit of daily writing… and free-writing’, essentially can bring out some exciting ideas to play with later.

*Morning Pages

This is about free-writing first thing in the morning, before you do anything else. Ref: Dorothea Brande’s Becoming a Writer

*Record of Reading

Can learn about good and bad writing, genres, ideas… and so on. Writer’s should be big lovers of reading.

These suggestions have all been taken from the Creative Writer’s Handbook.

I need to pledge this now: To write in my notebook every day. Ideally it’ll be a set time every day, so I establish the habit, but I think I’ll give myself permission to move the time slot around for now. Just so I get into the habit of actually writing.

I remember reading Pen on Fire which was great for ideas on how to get creative juices flowing, plus there is always an abundance of activities and prompts around. Finding something to write about isn’t the problem, it’s getting into the habit daily that is.

I do really enjoy working on freewrites, and have managed to extract some interesting ideas to work with for short stories on my degree. I just need consistent practice. I also want to mix things up a bit, and have the journal for exercises and musings on specific topics, as well as a brain dump.

Something I do want to try is to improve my vocabulary. To do this I thought I could select a random word each day (though a useful, usable one – does anyone have suggestions?) that I then use as a writing exercise, basing a passage around the use of this word. My thinking being I will most likely remember it then too, if I manage to apply it in this way.

I know there are sites out there somewhere with what I need, but I’m open to pointers to ones you’d recommend.

Helpful links:

Life Hacker: Writing Exercises

A Scenic Route: Love Fear Writing

Kim Evans Writes: Journal Story and Character Ideas

Finally Raining: Writing Journal

Young Unknown Author: New 2015 Journal

A special shout out to a super supportive blogger šŸ™‚

Lita Doolan: Any Old World Uncovered By New Writing


2 thoughts on “Splitting my head open

  1. I used to hate keeping a writing journal! Don’t worry about writing in it every day – don’t make your journal a chore. It should be something you do as an when you want to. Good luck with your writing! šŸ™‚

    • I actually like the process. Especially because I have permission (from me) to write total and utter crap, if that’s what spills out of my head at the time.

      I quite enjoy writing in it when I’m sat somewhere outside though. Inside can be incredibly stiffling, in terms of creativity. Just a shame British weather doesn’t always compliment writing in notebooks outside.

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