Yesterday I read an interview with Sue Grafton from the February issue of Writer’s Digest. Though not an MG or YA writer, you have to admire her for sticking with her alphabet mysteries. She’s now on letter U. But what struck me about this interview was that like me, she uses a journal for each novel. Mine are also full of “self-talk” about what I’m thinking about and working on. I thought it was cool, because I haven’t run across another writer who uses this process before.
My book-specific journal is especially helpful when I have a sticky plot problem. I use the space to brainstorm possibilities for what could or could not happen, then pick them apart, before I move on to writing. I ask myself questions about my characters, or think about the novel events from the perspectives of non-viewpoint characters. It also helps keep me motivated—I note how many words I’ve written each day, and that inspires me to keep going.