Ernest Hemingway’s Guide to Writing…Journaling

Homage to Babsi

“Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” – Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

You want to know the best way to become a writer? Write. Everyday. We’ve all heard this, right? It’s why your high school English teacher made you buy a composition notebook and record inspiring quotes from the whiteboard every day. And good ole Papa Hemingway said it himself, “Write one true sentence.” Everyday. So, what are the best ways to do that? I would start with journaling.

Journaling is a simple way to get the pen to the paper.

You can use different media to get this accomplished. You can try a variation of styles: writing about your day, hitting highlights with bullet points. You could draw a sketch, keep quotes from funny things you’ve heard, record simple prayers or meditating thoughts, etc.

I have several different journals and different reasons for keeping each, namely, I tend to seek out the perfect method for journaling, can’t find it, give up, start the cycle over. In one form or another, though, I’ve chronicled my writing for a long time.

When I was in junior high and high school, I had a journal in the form of a best friend/pen pal. My summer camp friend and I would write long letters back and forth throughout our adolescent years. She eventually put all of the letters in a binder for me when I graduated college, saying she made copies of her favorites and then added,

“You didn’t have time for your own journal. You were always writing me!” 

Anyway, I encourage you to find a notebook of some sort and keep it in a noticeable place. Then, spend each day jotting down something. See if it adds to your writing and creativity.

Some journal ideas:

Composition Book: Harkens back to teenage angst, right? You know you love it. Feel free to doodle about the domination of your senior class or your current crush’s name in glitter pen.

The Moleskine: a popular notebook found at Barnes n Noble etc. I like this article from Zen Habits on a journaling method using a Moleskine (you can, of course, use any notebook with this method)

Momento: A journaling app for your iPhone. You can add text or photos, and the app catalogs everything for you. You can also use this app to track your twitter and facebook status updates. Check it out at iTunes.

Evernote: Evernote is my brain. I use Evernote to keep track of everything, and it syncs with my computer and my phone. Such a great tool. Micheal Hyatt covers how he writes in a notebook and scans his writing into Evernote here. (Evernote is also available for the iPad along with other tablets and smart phones.)

Calendar Journal: One of my favorite ideas. This would be a great gift, too. Write one sentence every day and look over it through the years. You could use a moleskine or composition notebook for this, too.  You could also write something everyday in your freebie calendar from your insurance agent if you’d like.

The Visual Journal: Find a beautiful tutorial for a visual journal here. I have a version of this journal where I chronicle memories with my kids.

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