I have a confession to make–I am a daily journal-er.
Some years back a copy of Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way came into my life. I devoured it and took her advise to write what she referred to as 'Morning Pages.' It's an exercise designed to develop the ability to write anytime your hand grips a pen. I determined to set aside a specific time in my busy life to sit at my desk, every day, and fill three pages of a notebook in handwriting.
Did you know hands lose the memory of writing when they become accustomed to typewriting? Writing those 'Morning Pages' not only trained my brain to associate a pen-in-hand with writing, but helped my brain to slow down and capture the flood of ideas.
The real art of writing lies in commitment. Writing is an exercise in repetition. If you don't set aside time to write, life soon gets in the way. The more times you show up, the better your chances the story will show up also. Over the years, this has proven true for me.
As a writer of historical fiction, I find myself spending eons on the internet, snatching from here, there, and anywhere, those tidbits of details that lend authenticity to my stories. Later, as I sort through the barrage of information I've accumulated, writing out the descriptive passages by hand helps me mentally envision the scene I'm describing.
I wouldn't encourage anyone to read my journals—filled as they are with mostly a record of daily life. But, occasionally inspiration will attack and I freely write my thoughts and wonderings about the story-in-progress or perhaps some future project. Those words are permanently inscribed on the page, waiting for me to come back at a later time and incorporate a sentence or two that is just exactly what needed saying.