Maintaining a journal is a big cliche in writer world, but it is also helpful. If you're a write-every-day person, it can provide you with opportunities to do that during those times when you're overwhelmed or traveling. Some of my most serious journal work has been done on vacation.
Lisa Catherine Harper has an excellent piece on writers' journals, Using The Writer's Notebook: A Practical Guide at Ploughshares' website. What's particularly good about her article is the variety of suggestions she has for notebooks/journals. You really can do anything with them.
While I do understand her point about handwriting with a journal, a journal computer program has the benefit of being searchable. Writers can go either way.
Here's some particularly good advice from Harper: "Be recursive. Don't write in your notebook and forget about it. Go back to read, underline, annotate, or dog-ear. Use Post-it notes to indicate important passages." I say this is particularly good advice because working on my journals is something I've failed to do. I've definitely been a dump-and-run writer. Paying more attention to my journal could oen a whole new world.
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