Thursday, May 16, 2019

Journal to Boost Productivity

By Rochelle Melander, @WriteNowCoach

Part of The Writer’s Life Series

JH: There are many ways to jump start the creative process, and writing coach Rochelle Melander visits the lecture hall today to share one of them—journaling.

Rochelle Melander is a certified professional coach, experienced book strategist, and the author of eleven books, including, Level Up: Quests to Master Mindset, Overcome Procrastination and Increase Productivity. She provides solutions for people who feel stuck, overwhelmed or confused by the writing and publishing process. She is the founder of Dream Keepers, a writing workshop that supports children and teens in finding their voice and sharing their stories.

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Take it away Rochelle…

In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron suggested that artists start their day with morning pages. She instructed readers to jot down one to three sloppy pages of anything that came to their mind: words, images, memories, events, experiences, quotes, and more.

But for writers who need more structure to their journaling, I’ve developed several concrete journaling tools for doing morning pages. And by the way, you don’t have to do morning pages in the morning. Write your three pages whenever you have the time and energy to do them—at lunch, during your afternoon coffee break, or just before bed.

Gratitude Journal

A gratitude journal can help writers pay attention to the day. Once a day, record people or experiences that you feel thankful for. You might also make a game of it by setting up a gratitude scavenger hunt. In the morning, challenge yourself to look for three images of beauty, three acts of kindness, or even three different kinds of birds. You’ll be surprised at how that small act of intention will help you see more to be grateful for.

Bullet Journal

Ryder Carroll developed the Bullet Journal, an organized way to put everything you do in a single journal. Bullet Journals are usually paginated blank books that include several regular items: an index, a yearly log, a monthly log, weekly spreads, and daily entries. Many people who keep bullet journals also create collection pages for items that go together like books to read or movies to see. Project pages are also a popular feature in bullet journals and are used to plan work or personal projects, like a blog, a new book, or a vacation.

Research suggests that people who know the when, where, and what of their tasks tend to accomplish them. Use your bullet journal as a planning guide. Make sure to schedule your daily and weekly writing time. Record to-do lists, ideas for your book, and anything else that might be helpful for your writing work.

(Here's more on The Organized Writer: A Case for Non-Fancy Bullet Journaling)

Journal of a Book

For the past ten years, I’ve kept a journal for every single one of my books. I got the idea from Elizabeth George, who spoke about it when she visited my hometown for a book signing many years ago. She got the idea from John Steinbeck and wrote about it in her book on writing, Write Away:
I’ve begun every day by writing in a journal, sometimes about the writing I’m doing, sometimes about what’s on my mind at that moment. So for each novel I now write, I create a new journal entry, but before I do that, I read a day in the last Journal of a Novel for the previous novel. This allows me to see that, whatever I might be experiencing at the moment, I have experienced it and survived it before.
Create a journal for your novel, nonfiction book, or blog in any way that works for you. It can also be a story bible or idea file, where you keep all the bits of information you need to tell the story.

Art Journal

I’m always impressed by the sketchbooks of my friends who are artists. They take notes on what they see throughout the day by sketching images. They imagine projects, doodle and practice their techniques in their journals. Although I’m not an artist, I’ve learned that art journaling can boost my creativity and provides a fun way to do morning pages. Here are some ideas for how to use an art journal.
  • Explore an idea through art using any medium that feels fun to you including crayons, collage, doodling, or painting.
  • Use art to record an experience or sighting, like attending a car show or watching squirrels dig up the seeds in your garden.
  • Try a visual writing form, such as found poetry, collage poetry, or black out poetry.
Journaling can be a powerful tool for writers. Before tackling the crappy first draft, the journal allows us to think on paper without any worry about the outcome. Journaling practice strengthens our writing and helps us ignore the inner critic.

For more ideas on how to do morning pages, visit my blog.

About Level Up: Quests to Master Mindset, Overcome Procrastination and Increase Productivity

Do you struggle to:
+Find time to write and create
+Ditch distractions
+Overcome self-doubt and fear
+Believe in your strengths
+Silence the inner critic
+Stop procrastinating and write
+Focus on your work

What if you could find a simple solution to every one of these challenges?

In this book, you’ll discover YOUR perfect solutions. In our guru-obsessed culture, it’s tempting to think that if we follow the routines of successful creatives, we’ll be just as prolific as they are. But when it comes to creative productivity, a pre-packaged, one-size-fits-all guide can’t help everyone. Each person has distinct needs and deserves a unique solution.

In Level Up: Quests to Master Mindset, Overcome Procrastination, and Increase Productivity, you’ll tackle quests to help you discover your ideal work rhythms, design a life that supports your productivity, and overcome any obstacle you face. Instead of playing someone else’s game, you get to design the game, create your own playbook, define the rewards, and reap them all! You’ll also adopt a secret identity, recruit allies, identify villains, and celebrate your epic wins. Because you’ll be using a gameful approach to shaping your creative life, taking on these quests won’t be a chore. You’ll relish investigating your life and playing with possibilities.

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  1. Journaling about my WiP just may help. Thanks for writing this post, Rochelle.

  2. Thanks for reading. Happy writing!