Whether you are an avid journal writer or you’re starting because of a new year’s resolution…welcome! Every now and then it’s good to go back to the basics. These are in no means an ‘How to’ on journal writing- just more of a way to get you started or to hit refresh.
You don’t have to put pen to paper.
More of the traditional way of journaling is to keep a notebook and pen handy and simply write! But now there are so many more options. You can dedicate a notes section on your phone to journaling, a file on your computer, or you can download an app to use on your tablet! Whatever will feel more comfortable and will keep you journaling.
Keep realistic expectations.
The best way to start something new, or keep something going is to establish a routine. Set realistic expectations for when you want to journal. It is also easier when you link it to something you do everyday. For example, on the train ride commute to work, while you’re having your morning coffee, or when you’re getting ready for bed. Create a healthy habit for yourself.
Write about gratitude.
When in doubt write about gratitude. It can be life changing for mental health when you take the time to write about what you are grateful for. And you can start small with the things in front of you and go from there.
Try something new.
Go outside the box and make your journal personal and messy! Add pictures, or scraps that you have found throughout the day, like a good newspaper article for example. Re-read and write in the margins!
Write for you.
This may be the most important of the journaling basics. Remember why you started it, and write for yourself. No one has to read it and it will not be graded or criticized. Think about what goals you have for yourself and your journal and work towards that.
The Anti-Hero We are living in a time where escaping the confines of our home is what we want to do more than anything. Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, etc. can only provide so much entertainment. The plots become predictable, the characters lose their shine…yada, yada. You know the drill. My favorite stories, both on the screen and between the pages, are the ones following the “most loved” character wrestle their moral high ground, and ultimately fail. These characters feel real. I feel like I know them, have met them in my day-to-day life. Truth is: I probably have and so have you. Instead of listing off characters you can base your own character off of, how about we talk about making your character unique to you?
BACKSTORY IS VITAL Backstory to characters who strive for the ultimate good makes sense. But what about the characters who are angry? Or who are evil? Do not forget one of the more important things in writing: evil can be created. Explore that. Whatever was done to this character can introduce so many more things about them, such as personality traits, nervous ticks, complex behaviors, and beliefs. Your reader doesn’t need to know this information right away, too. Write it out on a new document on your computer and in your notebook before you begin your tale. Uncovering the backstory as the story progresses is the best part about the antihero.
ANGRY OR NOT; THE OUTCOME OF THEIR ACTIONS ARE… Good! For them, at least. It’s a satisfaction for them to do the things they do, because they feel it’s right. They may hurt some people along the way, mentally or physically, but they have a goal in mind. This character could be ruthless. This is what sets them apart from your regular hero. It’s also what sets them apart from being a total villain. They don’t want good for everyone, they want good for them. Which, once their background seeps into the story, sympathy will be created for them by the reader (if they have heart, that is.)
REDEEMING QUALITIES BUILD SYMPATHY Okay, so what if the character in question likes to kill people. Simply because they like to do that doesn’t mean they don’t have a soft spot for Grandma or Grandpa who raised them through their chaotic upbringing. They’ll always make it home for dinner every night, so they don’t upset them. See that? That’s a redeeming quality. Piling up the negative can be emotionally exhausting. Not everyone is as terrible as that. I can think of a few, but we won’t go there. Overall, if the character has a laundry list of negative qualities and zero good ones and they still win in the end, that’s going to be one upsetting story and you’re going to have a laundry list of unhappy readers. Give them traits to make them likable. You’ll have your readers’ hearts in your hands.
YOUR ANTIHERO IS HUMAN (OR CLOSE TO IT) Point is, we are flawed. You and me. Your antihero should be too. Lean towards realism. They have their own moral code, their own inner conflict, and they will always face difficult decisions to meet their end goal. Don’t we all? That’s what makes us each unique in our own personal journey so why not give that to your antihero as well. We aren’t all terrible…right?
So, get to it! We’re done here. Nothing more, nothing less. Antiheroes are far more fun than regular heroes. It’s nice to see a good two-shoes every once in awhile, but I like characters who commit heinous acts (to a certain degree!) and have purpose to their wrongdoings. Who are some of your favorite antiheroes in the literary world? My all-time favorite will always be Dexter Morgan. Not because of Michael C. Hall’s adaptation (although, major plus, albeit), but because of Jeff Lindsay’s creation of him. A serial killer with conscience? Absolutely brilliant.
Who wouldn’t love a fun arts and crafts project that will also help you achieve your goals? Increase your motivation, confidence, and performance with the help of an awesome vision board! Celebrities such as Reese Witherspoon and Oprah will surely back this up.
First and foremost, do some self reflection and see what matters to you most and then go from there. Then, think about if you want it to be digital or print. Print is pretty straight forward, grab some scrap cardboard or construction paper and browse the internet or magazines for pictures or any sort of clippings you like! For digital, my favorite tool is canva. A website that can do everything and more when it comes to digital art. To start, choose the dimensions you want and they have a ton of free photos for you to add along with text of your choice, or you can search for photos and paste them right on!
The best part…it’s completely customizable! If you want inspiration for your new novel pop on some pictures or quotes about what you’re envisioning for your story. Your story will come to life before your eyes and should make the writing process a bit easier- at least to start!
Here is a board I created on canva using pinterest photos! I set it as my screensaver just to make me smile. This is more of a life mood board which you can create as well!
Here are some more vision boards for inspiration…
Put it somewhere you will see it everyday as a helpful reminder!
Take 60 seconds out of your day to reflect positivity.
Start a gratitude journal.
It can be in a journal you already write in, or one dedicated to your gratitude list, but make it your own. Find one that compels you to want to write in it everyday. And put it in a place where you will see it, as a friendly reminder to pick it up.
Keep it simple.
You don’t have to explore the deep depth of your mind just yet. Keep it simple with gratitude such as “I ate today”, “I have a place to sleep” or “I am in love.” With time your list will grow and bring positivity to your life.
Soon your routine will be created. This is your journal, so make sure you are using it to your best ability. Enjoy your favorite cup of coffee or tea in the morning with a furry friend or a cozy blanket and reflect on the positivity in your life. Watch your mind change and grow as your routine sinks in.
This is a perfect time to step away from technology for a little bit and just grab a pencil. Put your thoughts on paper the old fashioned way and really feel what you are writing down.
You may have thought this popular app was just full of dances, but there is so much more! Especially for book lovers and literature enthusiasts. So next time you find yourself scrolling through the app, check out these bookish accounts!
If you want to take a step back from book recommendations and quirky videos, check out @bearcub79’s account for awesome book binding demonstrations! If you want a closer look into the process and get restoration tips this is a good place to start.
If you prefer a little growl with your romance, then look no further. Experience the dark side of the moon in these shifter romance books! While animal instincts and natural raw behaviors may not be what you want in your real-life partner – doesn’t mean you can’t drool over them in a book.
Do you want to write the next hot shapeshifter romance? Harness the power of the moon and get to it! When writing in this specific category of paranormal romance here are a few guidelines to go off of:
Dive deeper into the sensory realm – readers want to embrace the wild side!
Do your research! – what paranormal animals do you want to use, and what special abilities do they have amongst others?
How will the character be different in human form? – What traits will make them stand out?
Story line, story line, story line! – It is very important to identify the origin story! How were the shifters created? Who was the first one? How do they reproduce? Etc.
Writing is work! Especially when building a complex and dynamic world. But you can do it, don’t be afraid to put your mind to the test!
Writing in a personal diary is a good way to see your growth and expand your thoughts.
Your entries could be anything from recalling your day, writing personal thoughts, poems, drawing a picture, or recording your dreams. It isn’t like keeping a journal for school where you had to write specific things- this time, it’s for you!
The hardest thing you may come by is the willingness to write frequently. You may think you don’t have anything to record or that you don’t have time. A tip you can use is to set a timer when you feel like writing to get your thoughts out. Eventually you will get used to a schedule and have a whole diary filled before you know it.
In the beginning it is helpful to ask yourself questions to get your entry going:
What did I do today?
Did I learn anything today?
What are my personal goals?
If you are a writer, keeping a diary can help you with your creativity. It can be a source to grab material from and a place where you can store all your ideas.
Sometimes it is impossible to tell with any precision how the public will react to a book, even for someone working in the publishing industry. It’s not unheard of for a book to be successful for reasons no one even previously thought of. Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised with how well some books do, while other times I am disappointed with some books performances that had all the qualities to do well. What works for one book, won’t necessarily work for the next. At a certain point, people get tired of the same thing, the same story line, the same plot, or the same genre over and over again. This is when it becomes difficult to predict. Life is about variety and change, and so is publishing. People are always searching for the next “big thing.” This requires chances to be taken and gut feelings to be trusted. Sometimes the best we can do is make educated predictions based off of market and social media trends. Maybe it will stick, maybe it won’t. Maybe it will stick next time. Maybe it will take five more times.
Right now, two of the bestselling books on Amazon are coloring books… geared towards adults! Of all the amazing content out there in the abyss that is Amazon, coloring books? I was a little surprised to see that. My initial thought was who has time to color? I have a list of literary books I want to read that just keeps getting longer and longer, why would I pick up a coloring book? As I thought more and more about it over the weekend, a coloring book topping the charts of Amazon actually made me really happy.
Think for a moment about the purpose of a book. The rudimentary purpose of a book is to transport the reader into a different world. To remove them from their chaotic life, even just for a brief moment, and put them into the book’s world. Well, this is exactly what coloring books do too. They give the readers/artists a mental break from their own life. It’s a mindless activity meant to relax and calm the soul, where your biggest problem is what color to make that flower in the corner. They also give the reader/artist a chance to be creative, to take something and make it their own. They can make their world any color, shade, or texture they want- wherever they please. You can also color outside of the lines, if you wish, by adding elements of your own design- adding on to the content that is already there. You are the captain of this literary adventure, not the author.
Don’t be afraid to take chances with your writing and think outside the lines that are already there. No one ever knows for sure what is going to sell from one published work to another. Success always requires the biggest risks.
Who knows, maybe a Mad Libs book will top the Amazon charts next. Write on.