Writers know the first draft is the worst draft. Great writing is rewriting. Expect to go through your work a few times to make it sparkle.
How can you be sure your first draft will have enough good stuff in it?
Here’s what you can learn from the practice of journaling.
Journaling Makes You Braver
Have you ever kept a diary? What do you write in there?
- Your pain.
- Your joy.
- Your experiences.
Your diary is a record of the real you. This is the writer that has dirt under her fingernails. It’s the genius inside that craves expression and release. It’s the side of you your inner critic works to thwart.
Should you say everything you think? No. If there’s something burning inside you, like a secret you can’t keep anymore, you should write it. 9 times out of 10, that edgy comment is something you need to say.
Journaling Reveals the Real You
When you’re home, you act differently than you do in public. Your manners are more laid back. The only people you have to deal with are family, roommates, or guests.
When you’re in public, you stiffen up, put on a mask, and hold back your truth. You act this way because you’re not sure if the people around you are friends or foes. You don’t know how much power they have, and whether they’ll use it for or against you.
Be authentic. You’ll be helpful because you won’t care about maintaining your image. Then you’ll write stuff that will amaze you – and others.
Journaling Gives You Space to Write
No one sees your diary. So whether you keep it or throw it away, it’s your secret.
Write everything that comes to mind. Take those rabbit trails. Entertain the silly ideas. Include it all and you’ll have better trash to sift through.
Be careful when you cut. If it scares you a little, leave it in. It’s the daring writing that makes history.
Journaling Lets You Talk With a Trusted Friend
Napoleon Hill wrote about the mastermind group in Think and Grow Rich.
If you can’t get a group of experts together on a minute’s notice, no problem.
- Talk to experts when you can.
- Make notes of what they say.
- Imagine what they’d say about your article.
Your mastermind group will make you smarter, sharper, and more confident. They’ll sharpen your wit without insulting your intelligence. And they’ll encourage you all the way to success.
Journaling Gives Your Emotions Free Expression
Angry? Seethe on paper. Share those fiery feelings.
Confused? Ask questions. Maybe a reader knows the answer.
Excited? Share your enthusiasm with us. We’ll be infected with it, too.
People may complain that your writing is too colorful, too controversial, or hits a raw nerve too hard.
They won’t say it’s boring.
Journaling Gives You Something to Edit
If you want to edit every sentence as you write it, you do yourself a disservice.
Don’t let your inner critic work until you’ve written everything you can. You’ll have a pile of debris to sift through. However, it’s more likely something good will be left after the cut.
Journaling Lets you Take Both Sides of an Issue
Don’t know what to think yet? Argue the pros and the cons. Then put some space between you and your writing. Which side appeals to you most now?
Investigating both sides will strengthen your conviction and sharpen your writing.
Journaling Lets You Break All Those Pesky Grammar Rules
Experienced writers know proper grammar can sound weird. So they err on the side of clarity. They know a confused reader is a lost reader.
Don’t let that happen. Be conversational. Talk like you would over lunch with someone. Use your reader’s language, and you’ll win her over.
Journaling Frees You To Say What Scares You
You’ve probably thought of something and wondered, “Should I really say that?”
Steve Brown says, “If you wonder whether you ought to say something, you probably should go ahead and say it.”
It might ruffle her feathers. She might get offended. She may end her friendship with you. Ask yourself:
- Is it true?
- Is it helpful?
- Is it loving?
Then write it.
Journaling Takes Off Your Mask
We spend too much time protecting ourselves.
To avoid controversy, we stay quiet.
To make friends, we act like we have it all together, when we really don’t.
To keep peace, we let things go rather than confront someone.
Don’t edit out all the rough edges. Let your hair down. Cuss, spit, and throw rocks. Find that authentic you that has edge, spunk, and insight. Share that with your readers. They’ll love you for it, and you’ll make this a better world.