Kayla Dawn Thomas: Journal Your Way to Success

Keila Merino, teacher and ultra marathoner, started a running program in a Bronx elementary school. Her students were lethargic, out of shape, and having trouble with their studies. Over the years she’s seen great success with them physically and academically. At one point a student asked if she thought they could run a marathon one day, and Keila replied, “You can do and become anything if you try.”

What do you want to become? What do you want to do?

A goal without a plan is just a wish.
— Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Whatever your dream, it’s going to take some effort. Sadly, we live in a society that thinks things should simply come to us. Many people get a glimpse of what is actually required to write a book or start business and give up on the spot.  

kayla thomas | year of creative habits

When I decided to write my first novel, I had no idea where to start. It was something I’d always wanted to do, so I was determined to figure it out. I committed to writing in my journal for at least twenty minutes a day. It was a stream of consciousness, whatever floated through my brain, went on the page. Finally, I got brave enough to write the scene that had been running through my head for weeks. I didn’t know where it would fall in the finished story, but the events were so clear, it was time to record them. Taking that one small step was like rolling a boulder out of the way. The rest of the plot tumbled out, building around that one scene. With each book since, I’ve discovered tools and steps to take to make the process more efficient, but I would have never gotten to this place if I hadn’t been afraid to roll up my sleeves and try. Now I encourage people to look for small steps they can take to get them started.

No matter your goal, I think journaling is the first thing you should do. It clears the mind and quiets the chatter giving you the headspace to focus. I’ve discovered many of my best ideas come while journaling.

Tips for Journaling Your Plan:

Mindmaps: Draw a circle and write your goal in the middle. Now draw spider legs off that circle and write down all the things you think are required to reach that goal. Then, as needed, circle those steps and draw legs from them and write down what it takes to accomplish those tasks.  Once you’re mind map is finished, you can narrow down where you need to start. Big projects aren’t as daunting once they’re on paper. It’s when all the bits and pieces are floating around in your mind with no order that overwhelm begins.

Ask Questions: When I’m having trouble figuring out a character in one of my books, I write out questions and answer them from that character’s perspective. This can be done with anything. Write out questions and answer them quickly without too much thought. The best solutions are the ones that flow naturally.

Record Progress: Sometimes I feel like I’ve been busting my butt on my writing business and I’m only spinning my wheels. Those are the moments I open my journal and look back. We are so close to our every day activities, it’s hard to see the broader picture. Reliving past successes and seeing my steady forward motion gives me the gumption to keep at it. 

So here’s my call to action. I challenge you to the 100 Day Journal Challenge. Choose a journaling method that suits you: paper and pen, a Word document, Evernote, or one of the many other online journal apps. My personal favorite these days is Evernote as it syncs between my phone and laptop, so there’s never an excuse to miss a day. Plus I type way faster than I can write with a pen, so I have a fighting chance of keeping up with my thoughts. Give yourself some grace during this challenge. Just because I have no excuse to miss a day, doesn’t mean I don’t. I pick it back up the next day and I don’t start over counting. Within a couple of weeks you will begin to see the power of the journal. Your intentions will be stronger, and you will figure out how to make baby steps to achieving your dream.

kayla thomas | year of creative habits

Kayla Dawn Thomas has been a full-time author and publisher since 2014. She has produced two full length novels and a series of five novellas. Kayla writes what she loves to read: romantic stories, with a touch of humor, though this year she’s stretched her comfort zone and has written a thriller for the Lei Crime Kindle World to be released in early fall 2016.

When Kayla isn’t writing, she enjoys reading and spending time with husband, daughter, and French Bulldog Pearl. To learn more about Kayla and her books, please visit her website.