Once upon a time, blogs were considered online journals. The difference between traditional journaling and blogging is clear, though—one is private while the other is public.
Today, blogs posts are not typically written as journal entries per se. Yet, they still contain the author’s thoughts, which are then published for all the world to see.
And maybe that’s why you haven’t started blogging yet. Perhaps you are too shy or intimidated to share your words in a blog post. Possibly, you are confused about what to share online and what to keep to yourself.
That’s how I felt at the beginning of my blogging journey. I’d been a covert writer for years and always carried a small notebook where I recorded ideas. However, the idea of sharing my ideas online felt like a gigantic leap.
Fast-forward a few years… Now I maintain a handful of blogs and have a dozen books to my name. So hitting the publish button on a new post no longer fills me with dread.
Difference Between a Journal and a Notebook
The difference between a notebook and a journal is the level of personal insight you document.
In a notebook, you may write blog post or chapter ideas. As soon as you capture thoughts, emotions, opinions, and the reflections swirling around your head, that notebook becomes a journal.
Although this seems like an insignificant difference, it’s a game-changer when writing a blog post or book with which your audience can connect.
Keep in mind that the content from your journals shouldn’t get shared online.
Why Keep a Journal?
Even though your journal entries are for you…not for the general public, journaling has its place in a blogger’s or writer’s toolbox. Journaling can be an important precursor to writing a blog post or book, though.
I used my journal as an opportunity to flex my writing muscles and organize the thoughts and feelings related to the topics about which I wanted to write blog posts and books. I couldn’t imagine writing a book without having my journal as the training ground. Of course, my blog posts are also the stepping-stone towards publication.
If you are wondering whether or not to start journaling as a way to move toward blogging and authorship, here are five distinct reasons to keep a journal.
1.Improve your writing.
People use journals for different reasons, but one of the most valuable roles is to improve your writing. The more you write, the better your writing becomes.
2.Gain clarity on your ideas and topics.
The more you explore your thoughts, emotions, and experiences, the clearer you become about the topics you will cover on your blog or in a book.
Most people journal to capture thoughts and feelings as well as to understand them more clearly. Rather than internalizing all these ideas—write them down. It helps process a topic you’re struggling to understand and determine how to approach it in a blog post or book.
3.Communicate concepts simply.
Journaling also helps you become adept at simplifying ideas. This writing is a stepping-stone for taking complex or conflicting ideas and understanding them. Then you can write about them in a simple, easy-to-understand manner.
You don’t want to invite confusion into your book, and publishing blog posts that confuse you will confuse your readers, too. A writer’s journal is the ideal place to work through the kinks in your ideas, as well as a safe place to capture your thoughts and feelings.
The ability to simplify ideas is an invaluable skill if you plan on launching a blog within a specific niche or blogging your book. I’ve had many occasions when I thought I had a succinct and clear idea for a blog post. However, once written, I realized it didn’t have the clarity or simplicity it needed.
It is at such time that my journaling is most beneficial. I use my journal to untangle my thoughts and capture why I want to write on a topic.
4.Personalize your subjects.
No matter what thoughts or ideas you capture, your journal helps personalize the topics you focus on. You can explore personal anecdotes and viewpoints unique to you; later, these can become ways to illustrate points made in a blog post or chapter.
As you journal on a topic, you also develop an emotional connection to it. If you don’t have that understanding and emotional connection to your subject matter, you can’t communicate it to your audience.
5. Create Connections
The act of writing your thoughts helps create connections between different and seemingly unrelated ideas. Often, it’s only by writing these ideas down and mulling over them that you gain clarity.
As humans, we have a natural inclination to create connections. Your journal can be the place you find meaningful patterns amid the noise of too many ideas and thoughts swirling around your head. Even if these connections don’t make it into your published content, they will help you communicate your ideas.
What to Journal About?
There are no hard and fast rules about what to journal about. It’s your journal. Only you can choose what to write there.
My journal is an erratic collection of long-form content, brief paragraphs, bullet-point lists, bubble diagrams, and flowcharts. Of course, you can capture these on your computer or digital device as well. Many apps are designed to help you get your thoughts organized. Still, nothing beats that personal relationship of connecting your brain to your page through a pen or pencil.
Choosing a Journal
Most writers I know have a slight obsession with notebooks, and I’m no different. I can’t resist a new notebook and have an endless supply of varying sizes and designs within reach. Choosing the right journal enhances my writing experience. I never buy a new one without first brushing my hand over the page. The right pen also helps to inspire my creative process. I have a passion for fountain pens, and a nib needs to glide over my page to effortlessly spill out my words.
Even today, many years after I started blogging and writing books, I still keep a journal. It’s an essential step that helped me become a consistent blogger and successful author.
Are you serious about connecting with your blog readers and becoming a successful author? If so, journaling regularly will nudge you in the right direction.
Has journaling helped you become a better blogger and writer? Tell me in a comment below.
About the Author
Jay Artale abandoned her corporate career to become a digital nomad and full-time writer. She’s an avid blogger and a nonfiction author helping travel writers and travel bloggers achieve their self-publishing goals. Join her at Birds of a Feather Press where she shares tips, advice, and inspiration to writers with an independent spirit.