Using journalling to start writing your book [exercise]

How to outline your book idea and start on your draft — in 15 minutes

Using journalling to start writing your book [exercise]
This post is a transcript for Diary of an Indie Writer, episode 29: Using journalling to start writing your book 🎙️

Journalling has some incredible benefits for us as writers. It’s been the foundation of my writing practice over the last 8 years and it has held deep benefits for so many writers I have come across and worked with. Today, I’m going to share how journalling can actually help you write your book. That’s right, journalling can help you write down the book that’s inside of you. Whether you’re more of a ‘plotter’ or a ‘pantser’, whether you’re new to writing or you’ve written a book already, journalling can help you write down the book inside of you. 📝 READ: ‘Plotter’ or ‘pantser’: What kind of writer are you? The principles I’m going to share today apply to both fiction and non-fiction. This is exciting stuff! You can apply it to whatever genre you are writing. So how is it possible to write down your book with journalling? Aren’t ‘journalling’ and ‘writing a book’ two completely different kinds of writing? Actually, the two can be combined into a whole. It can work really effectively. The secret involves journalling with prompts.


The method

Here’s how it works:
Take your overarching idea for a book & write it down. This can be: a transformation or hero’s journey you’ve been on… insights from a business you’ve been working on… a fictional story… etc
Write down 3-5 chapter ideas beneath that. You can think of these as (very) rough chapters. Don’t think about it too much.
Choose one of your chapter ideas, and write down 3 prompts for it.
Using one (or more) of those prompts, start writing!

A working example

Let’s illustrate this with an example. e.g. You want to write a book about growing plants in a hot environment.
BOOK IDEA: “How to grow plants in the desert”
CHAPTER IDEAS: - ‘The seeds you need to buy’ - ‘How to nurture those seeds’ - ‘The ingredients for a healthy desert plant’ - ‘Some things to watch out for’ - ‘Getting started with growing plants in the desert’ CHOOSE ONE OF YOUR CHAPTER IDEAS:
Let’s go with: ‘The ingredients for a healthy desert plant’. Jot down 3 prompts to help you write around this chapter. For example: 1) What are the ingredients for a healthy desert plant? 2) Why are light and water so important for plants? 3) What’s the difference between growing a desert plant, and a regular plant? START WRITING!
Set a timer for ten minutes and start writing, using one of the above prompts.

In summary

You can start writing your book on one sheet of A4 paper. In the space of a half hour, you can go from idea to writing. The beauty of this method is that it breaks down the big task of writing a book into little chunks. So that’s it. Book idea. Chapter titles. Journal prompts. Write!
When you write using prompts, and you task yourself with writing for ten minutes, you trick yourself into getting started. More often than not, after ten minutes, you’ll be happily writing away. That’s how journalling using prompts can help you write your book.
This method is particularly useful for:
  • Those who have been procrastinating on starting their book for a while now
  • You’ve started writing but haven’t made any real progress
As we shift into Spring, now is the perfect time to carve out the time and give yourself permission to write down your story.
Jas Hothi is a writing coach & author. With a Masters in Positive Psychology (MAPP), he loves to help folks write their stories using their unique creative rhythms. He is currently offering a free copy of his book, The Indie Author, to anyone who signs up for his newsletter. SIGN UP HERE to get yours.