I often discuss writing journals with other writers and am surprised by the resistance I find. Here are some common objections:
"I don't want to write in something everyday, it's too confining. It makes me feel like I'm back in school." "I forget to write entries and then I feel 'what's the use?'" "If I have something to write, then I would prefer it be a story."
Writers' journals are fine for some. Not fine for others. I love them.
My wife bought me a journal of crisp white paper with an attractive, sturdy leather binding. I take it with me most everywhere I go and write in it on a daily basis. In it are passages which will sometimes end up in short stories, or sometimes I'll write detailed outlines for stories I am considering. Occasionally I will set down three or four story concepts, often no longer than a few sentences, hoping this will spur me to write. It's not for everybody, but it works for me.
Here is an example from my writers' journals of ideas which may or may not become something. I'll write them down exactly as they were in my journal just to show the process I go through. Who knows if any of the ideas will become anything:
The Statues- a man moves onto a block with curious and imaginative children. They are in awe when he puts on his lawn two or three grotesque statues. The children start to notice that the statues poses seem to change slightly from day to day.
When The Weathervane Lied- 1930's. A poor farming family in Oklahoma is about to lose its farm. Grandmother: "Fortunes change --weathervane says so." The family faces a murderous dust storm. Someone comes to the door, a thin man with a bandana over his nose and mouth. The grandmother sees him and says: "Don't let him in!" The father gives the stranger charity.
Stranger: "Funny thing about doin' good. People reach out and give a man a hand up. Sometimes they do it and it's automatic. They just do good without thinking about it. They just do." Father: "It's Christian to be charitable." Stranger: "Is it Christian when charitability becomes a habit." Father: "I don't get your meaning." Stranger: "The old lady didn't want me in here. The old lady was right." Father: "Ma don't mean nothin'." Stranger: "But she was right. You should have listened to her. When I leave here in the next couple minutes, I'm takin' your children with me."
Finding The Road: A Nazi concentration camp officer is shown to be a normal individual. Whatever his conflict is, the concentration camp must be nothing but a background, all violence and gore portrayed in a mundane manner. The story is theme driven, showing that the Nazis are not monsters, but humans doing monsterous things. As such, the terror should be found in the potential for all of us to play the role of monster.