Writing ability is in some ways an exercisable muscle. The more you write in earnest, the better writer you are. Journal writing, in particular, cleanses the pathway between your mind and the paper; writers disciplined in their journal keeping soon stumble upon an increased clarity of writing, and further diary entries ensue.
Organizing Your Mental Room
Journal writing traditionally addresses your innermost, personal thoughts. By communicating your thoughts in an organized and intelligible fashion on the paper, you are also assigning organization and order within your brain, which can become very much a tangled, confusing place.
When you then move outside of the journal or diary medium, your newly organized mental room will benefit you more than you might expect. Mentally “reaching” into your thoughts for an idea or expression, you will have an easier time finding what you are looking for with a newly ordered mind and, as a result, you will have an easier time writing clearly.
The best writers have little fluff between their thoughts and their written words, and yet this requires an astonishing clarity of expression. Many average writers often think of themselves as better writers than they are, because they realize they have so many good ideas which they assume will be easily translatable to the page.
However, ideas only go so far, and writers are judged on the expression of their ideas as much as the ideas themselves. The journey towards clarity of expression is a tremendously difficult one for any writer, and this is one of the most beautiful challenges of the craft, if not its defining challenge. New York City rock poet Lou Reed once wrote the lyric, “Between thought and expression lies a lifetime.”
Address the Elephant
The most important and pressing ideas in our mind are often the very ideas we fail to express, or worse, fail to attempt to express. Journal writing presents an opportunity to work out any “elephant in the room” that is invading your mind; you are able to write in your journal as if you were addressing a close friend or confidante, and there is no risk! Do not take this opportunity lightly, but rather attack your personal issues or confusions with the pen, and you will inevitably discover helpful insights about yourself.
Journal writing is only effective if the writer is honest; otherwise, journal writing is a waste of time. Write honestly, more honestly than you might even speak to a friend, and your writing will be more relatable.
In this way, journal writing is a good habit to keep, just to maintain an honest, convincing voice, and to flex your narrative muscle.