The Secret Weapon Writers Need to Use More Often

There are many ways to uncover a book idea.

There is an underused secret weapon that authors have at their disposal to help them on their writing journey. Do you know what it is?


That’s right. Journaling.

Journaling is a great way to unload the weight of an eventful day, but it can also become a storehouse for your next great story idea.

As you write about life events as they happen, those dated entries become history markers of special moments and occasions in your own life. You’re able to sort through your feelings about circumstances in real time. You can also write about what you want to accomplish in your life and review your progress as you plan for the future.

You might find that journaling feels more organic than willing the words for your next book to come to you. That’s because it’s from your heart. You are sharing all the good and ugly parts of you. Your truest, unbarred thoughts. Your hopes and dreams as well as those gnawing fears.

For me, journaling has always represented a place to keep the deepest thoughts and desires of my heart. Things I would never utter aloud have been penned on pages for only my eyes. It’s been a place of release, relief, and looking in the “mirror”, so to speak.

What I also realized while journaling is that the same ideas, thoughts, and themes pop out. I can leverage my journal entries and draw inspiration for fiction and nonfiction works alike based on the things that are already in my head.

You can utilize your journaling experience the same way. Take a look at your last year of journal entries. What are they about? What themes stand out to you?

I’m confident you’re sitting on a landmine. You just need to figure out how to use it.


Use Your Journal to Help You Write

Here’s an activity to help you sort through your journals to find out what God may be telling you to pen next:

Go through your journal entries for the last year and pen any phrases, words, and themes that stand out to you. Try to get down at least 30.

Are there any thoughts that are repeated? On a separate piece of paper, aim to get this list down to 15 or 20 ideas by grouping together similar/same ideas.

Determine your overall theme. What is the one thing each of these elements has in common? That is the overall theme for your book. The ideas you grouped will serve as topics or even chapters to write about. Get to writing!

If you performed the activity above, you now see how easily you can turn your journal entries into an outline for a book. Journaling is a safe haven for you to cast ideas into nothingness and witness them come back to you. But it’s not nothingness. They are written on pages an array of color for you to go revisit and look through. 

And find that life-changing, brand-building book idea.

Featured photoby Luz Saldaña on Unsplash; in-text image by Thom Holmes on Unsplas