While teaching at Fremont High School in South Los Angeles, I wrote in my journal, every day, for four months, and used those notes to produce a novel about a white teacher in a black ghetto high school. I called the book A Class of Leaders.
When I was a young writer living in Berkeley, my girlfriend and I broke up after living together for four years. Soon after the split, I witnessed the death of my father in Los Angeles. To overcome those two losses, I decided to hit the highways of America in my VW bus. I wrote in my journal, every day, on that three-month journey. After I settled down in Portland, Oregon, I used my journal entries to write my second novel, Highway Sailor: A Rollicking American Journey.
For my third novel, Morning Pages: The Almost True Story of My Life, about a writer overcoming writer’s block, I wrote in my journal, every day, for three months. Again, I used my daily journal entries to write that novel.
Do you see a pattern of how those novels came into being? I wrote in my journal, every day, for three or four months.
I’m not saying you should follow my pattern. What I’m saying is, if you write in your journal, every day, for a month or two or three, it’s one way to get a writing project off the ground. At the very least you’ll have plenty of material to work with.