The Magic of Journaling by Hand

The Magic of Journaling by Hand

I’m a big believer in the power of the handwritten word. I do the majority of my journaling by hand in a bound Blueline notebook. I’ve experimented with different methods of journal writing, from stacks of loose-leaf paper to password-protected online documentation. I get the best results writing by hand.

Journaling is a powerful tool that everyone can benefit from, so I encourage you to do it however works best for you. The most important part of keeping a journal is keeping it. Writing by hand is my method of choice for several reasons, which I’ll outline here. Give it a try and see if you experience the same benefits.

1. Visual feedback

Flipping through my notebooks, it is evident immediately what mood dominated a writing session. Some pages are filled with neat block letters made by my Pilot Precise V7 black roller pen. Others are smudged with uneven scrawl because my hands were frozen from riding my scooter to the cafe without gloves – evidence I was out of sorts enough to forget details like protecting myself from the elements.

Most cherished, perhaps, are the pages scribbled frantically with a foreign pen – the urgency transparent – stranded somewhere without my usual writing instrument. Perched atop a toilet in the restroom of a restaurant, or writing excitedly in the closet of a sleeping lover.

Small illustrations beginning an entry, a polka-dotted dateline betraying my playful mood that morning. Or deep, heavy lines with hasty smudges as I wrote angrily without giving the ink time to dry. None of these qualities are evident in typing. The CAPS LOCK key forms a clumsy catch-all for emotion and lacks the subtlety of handwriting.

In between pages are detritus of daily living – ticket stubs, postcards, polaroids, parking meter receipts. Anything stamped with the date or documenting the location. I was here.

2. Quality control

The rhythm of writing by hand affords you the opportunity to weigh and measure your words, choose them carefully, all without interrupting the flow. Your words become more artful. Sometimes I find typing mechanical and ejaculatory. Bursts of prose interrupted by long pauses of thought. The seamless, graceful dance of words is lost.

3. Brain exercise

I can type over 100 words a minute. When writing by hand, I need to hold onto my thoughts long enough to get them down on paper. This practice stretches my synapses and exercises my brain. It seems to bolster my failing short-term memory.

4. Accessibility

From a practical standpoint, keeping a paper journal means I never have an excuse for evading my dedication to the page. No dead batteries will keep me from pouring my heart out. No crashed hard drives will swallow pages of text. I don’t have to wait for my desktop to boot up, or remember to drag my laptop with me in case the opportunity to write arises. A small bound notebook is easily pocketed and needs no electricity to survive. It makes airport travel much easier, as well – Homeland Security does not require the removal of my journal for inspection!

5. Indulging a Paper Fetish

I love stationery. I mean, really love it. The more often I write, the more frequently I get to take field trips to Utrecht, Papyrus, Paper Zone or the University Bookstore.

6. The Tetris Effect

Writing by hand moves a different part of my brain than typing. Like drawing, it seems to jiggle the more creative synapses of grey matter, perhaps because of the similiar hand movements and contact with pen and paper.

I could hypothesize this has something to do with the primal method of writing on cave walls before the invention of literature. Deep down, I’m a cavewoman scratching pictures in the red clay with an arrow head. To keep the controversy to a minimum, I just call this the Tetris Effect.

Playing Tetris wakes up a different part of my brain. The part that does math. The part put out of a job with the invention of the calculator and my escape from school. Like playing Tetris, writing by hand wakes up a specific part of my brain. It’s good to exercise mental muscles you don’t normally use during your day. (Especially if you don’t have to do math to exercise them.)

The Intangible and the Digital

Beyond all that measurable stuff, there is an inexplicable chemistry that takes place when I behold a blank page, pen in hand. I can’t fully explain it, but if you try journaling by hand for a little while, you may see what I mean. It connects you to your thoughts more intimately.

For a period of time, I wrote a great deal on my computer. This is partly because I worked at a bank, where my job description involved sitting at my computer and looking busy. I didn’t have internet access, but I had email. So I would write long journal-type emails and send them to myself for the timestamp.

I have hundreds of these emails from that time, collectively called the “Interstate Archive.” I read them now, and even the emotional ones lack the impact possessed by my handwritten journals from the same time period. The flow is different, the narrative removed and less connected. It reads like a science experiment rather than a field guide.

I am, however, grateful to have these journal entries, as the alternative was not writing at all. Had I spent the same amount of time crouched over my notebook, my employment would’ve been short-lived.

Excuses, Excuses

Aside from the logistics, you may have the following excuses for not wanting to keep a paper-based journal:

You hate your handwriting.

I’ve actually used journal writing to experiment with and improve my handwriting. For awhile I kept my journal in cursive script. Then I switched to standard print, sentence case. I went through a paranoid phase where I wrote in shorthand so nobody could read it.

Now I write in blocky capitals, my handwriting increasingly legible as the years go by. It doesn’t really matter what your handwriting looks like, because much of the magic of journaling is the process, not the product.

You can’t spell.

Me niether. Good thing nobody else reads my journals.

Your grammar sucks.

(see above)

You are afraid someone will read your journal.

Privacy is a big concern for lots of people. I have a messenger bag that I am rarely without, and my journal stays inside it at all times unless I’m writing in it. My 100+ completed journals are protected by my refusal to live with someone I don’t trust implicitly. (I’ve made it very clear what’s off limits.)

As a last line of defense, most snoopers would be bored to tears three pages in and abandon the stealth mission anyway. My life is just not that interesting.

I explore this topic in depth in Keeping Your Journal Private.

Writing by hand takes too long.

Many people type faster than they write by hand. But the slower pace moves a different part of your brain. You may find advantages to the slackened timeline, such as higher quality control or improved brain power.

Electronic journaling certainly has its benefits, which I explore in the Benefits of Digital Journaling. Before you dedicate yourself to one method or the other, try them out. Maybe, like me, you’ll find a use for both – depending on the type of writing you need to do.

Use the method that gets you closer to where you want to be!

7 Ways to Keep Your Journal Private

7 Ways to Keep Your Journal Private

Privacy is often a central concern for journal writers, especially when you’re first starting out. If you are concerned about someone reading your journal entries against your will, it’s essential that you find a solution to this problem right away.

The need for privacy is one reason people turn to electronic journaling, which enables you to secure entries with a password and “hide” files. This is a perfectly acceptable solution.

However, as I detail in another post, writing by hand in a paper-based journal can be enormously beneficial. See if any of these privacy methods help you feel safe enough to try giving handwritten journaling a shot.

Journaling should create a safe place for you to honestly examine your feelings, coax out long-buried dreams, purge shame, try on new ideas, and heal your most vulnerable parts. These activities are mutually exclusive with self-editing and censorship.

If you’re editing yourself in your journal, holding back the truth, or writing a certain way because you’re afraid of being found out, you’re wasting your time and denying yourself the chance for genuine growth.

Trust as a Gauge of Growth

Your present level of personal development influences your perception of privacy. Since I’ve been consciously choosing my relationships for some time, I surround myself with people I trust implicitly. My past work in personal growth focused on the removal of untrustworthy or negative relationships. This means I never worry about where my journal is.

The people with whom I share my life would not intrude on my journal because I’ve asked them not to. They know that if I had a problem involving them, I would openly share it with them. They trust my judgment and my actions, so they don’t feel the need to dig in my private spaces hoping to unearth information that confirms their suspicions.

This was a long path, however, and did not happen overnight. There were certainly times in my life when I was sharing space with someone I didn’t trust. Sometimes I didn’t identify an unhealthy relationship until I was embroiled in it. My journal served as a refuge to vent my resentments and solidify an exit plan.

I wasn’t ready to share these plans and epiphanies with my then-partner, nor did I trust him to honor my boundaries. He was likely to snatch the journal from my hands and lock himself in the bathroom, reading it cover to cover so he could confront me with evidence of my emotional infidelity. So I stashed my journal in the bag I always carried.

Being sure my writing was safe enabled me to freely air my frustrations and think strategically. Journal writing gave me the tools to end a bad relationship and to start a new life for myself. As a result, I have not felt the need to protect my journals for the past decade.

Protect Yourself First

Perhaps you find yourself in a tough situation that demands strict privacy, like an abusive relationship you are working toward ending. A journal can be an invaluable tool for support and venting. But in an inflammatory situation, putting it in writing could backfire on you.

If any of your entries might endanger you or escalate an unstable situation, a digital journal with a strong password may be the safest solution for now. Protect yourself and trust your own judgment.

1. Out of sight, out of mind

My default response as an adult has been to keep my current journal tucked away in my bag. Most of the time, keeping your journal out of visual reach prevents roaming eyes. I consider this my “keep the honest people out” method, like locking car doors.

I believe in setting people up for success. No matter how much they love you, your friends and family may be tempted to snoop if you make it easy for them. It’s human nature. Help them honor your trust by putting your journal away.

2. Code words and analogies

In the past, I used code words and analogies that would be meaningless to anyone else: “Despite my best intentions, I went shopping at Target again today. I simply don’t know which sheets to choose. Do I go with the comfortable, traditional flannel? Or do I gamble on the racy satin sheets, exciting but impractical long-term? ” You get the idea.

Once safely out of a situation that required writing in code – for example, moving out of my parents’ house – I found it helpful to revisit these entries, adding notation with a little “key” in case I forgot what the heck I was going on about sheets for when I obviously had more urgent concerns. A small note in the margin provides clarity later. And a giggle, in retrospect. “Sheets. Seriously?”

Maybe you shared a secret language with someone when you were young, like I did. My best friend and I would talk in full cipher over the phone since privacy was a rare commodity.

My mother did likewise with her sister, with whom she’s very close. They share a strange language akin to pig latin. I’m unsure of the origin, but nobody else on earth can understand a word they’re saying. Growing up in a small, overcrowded house with no privacy, it was essential for them to create a verbal barrier.

You may feel the need for similar protection in your journal. Do whatever you need to do to feel safe and protected so you can write without hesitation or self-censorship.

3. Locks

Obviously, you can go the Fort Knox route with a locking file cabinet or bookcase. But if you’re in a volatile situation, it might not be wise to flaunt this fact. Stick with generalizations. “Oh, yes – I just lock up all my important documents – you never know when someone might break in.”

If you want to go the teen angst route, there’s always the locking journal with tiny heart-shaped padlock. Those can be picked with a hairpin, though, so don’t rely on Mead to guarantee your privacy.

4. Warning Labels

A big, fat warning label may provide an additional line of defense; again, keeping the honest people out. “You are about to violate the sacred trust of someone you love. Is whatever petty crap you might find in here worth that?” Just to remind intruders what’s at stake.

When I was younger, I sealed my journals with a hair and invisible tape. Then I put a sticker on the front warning the snooper that the notebook was rigged to betray their intrusion if they opened it, like a silent alarm being activated. Part secret-agent obsession and part melodrama, this method may have at least kept my parents out.

5. Fake Covers

If you want to get creative about protecting your privacy, go “undercover.” My very first journal, which I began in grade school, was a 3-subject notebook with the word “HISTORY” written across the front in bold black Sharpie.

The subject choice was an inside joke with myself – the word “history” certainly accurate. But it was made to look like my boring school notebook, likely filled with yawn-worthy homework assignments and semi-legible notes on the French Revolution. Who would bother snooping in that?

This ruse was doubly useful; my teachers were amazed at how diligently I took notes during class. They assumed my constant, frantic scribbling was intended to capture all the words of brilliance spilling from their mouths. Instead of being reprimanded for writing in my diary during class, my “star student” status was reinforced, granting me further freedom from scrutiny. Little did they know…

I recently saw hardbound notebooks made out of old books – Nancy Drew novels, botany handbooks, philosophy anthologies. My first thought was how great they’d be for journaling, not attracting much attention, “Oh this old thing? Just my stuffy volume of 17th century poetry.”

Perhaps you, too, can hide your journaling beneath the guise of a less intriguing topic.

6. Conversations

When I first began sharing space with my partner, I told him about the journals. I also promised him that if a topic concerned him, I would share it openly with him. He had no need to go looking for it.

I said, “I’m not hiding these anywhere but they are private. And I cannot be responsible for what happens if you decide to read them. So don’t come crying to me about something you find in there that wasn’t meant for your eyes.”

The danger lies mainly in a tool I use called “Alternate Realities.” If I’m having trouble choosing between two options, I write as though I’ve made a decision. This exercise helps me imagine how I’d feel if I were to take a certain action.

For example, if I hate my job, I pretend I’ve decided to quit. Then I write from that perspective. If my journaling focuses on panic over paying the bills, I know I’m not ready to leave my job yet. If I write about the sudden surge of intoxicating freedom and relief, I might be headed in the right direction.

But imagine the grief this could cause if, for example, my partner happened upon an alternate reality exercise without understanding it as such. That’s what I mean about not being responsible for someone’s feelings if they decide to read journals not meant for their eyes. They have no context for the words on that page. They don’t know if they’re reading fact or fiction, the details of a terrible nightmare, a new idea for a novel, or you playing devil’s advocate in your notebook.

Friends, family and housemates need to honor your privacy – for their own good.

7. Boredom

As a last line of defense, most of what I write would bore a snooper to tears in minutes. The juicy stuff is few and far between – that’s the nature of my daily journaling. Anyone who decides to violate my trust will likely be disappointed when they discover it wasn’t worth the bother.

In the end, your privacy concerns can throw a light on potential trust issues. Do you really want to share your life with someone you cannot trust to honor your boundaries? If that light has already been thrown and you’re doing best to get out of a low-trust situation, some of these tools may come in handy.

You need to assess your own situation and protect yourself accordingly. It’s essential to secure your journal so you feel 100% safe and uninhibited in your writing. You deserve to get the most out of your time on the page.

8 Reasons to Journal Daily

8 Reasons to Journal Daily

Over the years, I’ve come to believe that daily journaling is the best method for consistent personal growth and emotional clarity.

If you haven’t kept a journal consistently before, or if it’s been a while since you were dedicated to journaling, I recommend writing daily for at least a month. Once you are in the habit of doing it every day, you can assess your needs and experiment with your schedule. See how you feel after a day or two off. Are able to get back into the swing easily? Or have you totally lost your momentum?

I wrote every single day for several months when I first began, and I did it until I wanted to write daily. Until it was no longer a chore or something to be crossed off my todo list, but an activity I looked forward to and depended on. Until I began holding that time sacred and protecting it possessively from intrusion.

Now I can go a day or two without writing and it doesn’t register on my radar. I normally write every weekday morning. I often don’t write on Sundays. Occasionally I skip Saturday, too. That means Monday is a “brace yourself” kind of journal entry. I have a lot to say, and it usually starts awkwardly. I feel like I haven’t written in forever.

If I go three days without journaling, I start to feel lost. I get cranky. Defensive. I lose perspective. I feel emotionally constipated. I start setting up decorations for the pity party. A week without writing and I’m a basket case – directionless and neurotic. But one meaty entry reels me back in. I re-center. I remember who I am and where I was going. I’m quickly back on track.

Because I go downhill fast when I’m not writing, I have a great incentive to keep it up. Who wants to consciously sign up for Directionless and Neurotic?

The longest period of time I’ve gone without journaling in the past two decades is one month. I took March of 1998 off because a friend believed writing about my problems was making me unhappy. She convinced me I needed a healthy dose of her drink of choice: blissful ignorance. In the spirit of scientific method, I gave it a shot. That’s the last time I follow her advice. They nearly mobilized the white coats and locked me up.

Returning to my notebook, fingers stiff, felt like coming home. If nothing else, that extended hiatus reinforced my desire for daily dedication to the page. I’ve been writing almost daily ever since.

Here are some of the benefits of daily journaling:

1. Establish a routine

When you write every day, journaling makes a space for itself in your daily routine, just like eating dinner and brushing your teeth. You don’t have to worry about whether or not you’re going to write – you just do it. I’ve used the daily commitment strategy with other tasks before, like exercising. I don’t waste time or energy debating whether or not to do it and I don’t have to juggle my schedule to put it off another day, meanwhile feeling guilty and rationalizing my laziness. I just do it every day. It’s easier.

2. Develop credibility

Your friends, family and housemates will see you’re serious about journaling, which may give you more power to set boundaries and make demands so you can keep at it. Folks will stop using air quotes when referring to your “little writing hobby” or your “secret diary.” You will demonstrate that it’s not a fad or a passing phase – this is something you are serious about. As a result, it may become easier for you to get help securing uninterrupted writing time.

For example, your spouse can distract the kids for half an hour so you can have some peace and hit the page. In my home, having credibility means my significant other makes dinner when he sees I’m writing. He also attempts to occupy my painfully needy cat (often in vain).

3. Keep up momentum

If you write every day, the pages pile up quickly, which is immensely satisfying and encourages you to continue. You make measurable progress that is easy to reflect on. Re-reading older entries reinforces how far you’ve come and gives you incentive to stay dedicated.

4. Invite big wins

There’s a magic point in my daily writing, around page 1.5, where breakthroughs inevitably occur. If I sat down grumpy and unfocused, certain I had absolutely nothing to say, you can bet something big is brewing. And halfway through the second page of the morning, it appears.

If I sided with my original belief that I had nothing to say, these epiphanies would never occur. Daily writing means you write whether you want to or not, whether you feel you “need to” or not, whether or not you think you have something to say. Hidden troubles and gems of inspiration are thinly veiled behind the doldrums, waiting to be discovered.

5. Build discipline

Honoring your commitment to yourself, even when you’d rather go to the movies or catch an extra hour of sleep, strengthens your discipline. Showing up regardless, because you said you would, bolsters your self image and establishes you as a person of your word. Trust in yourself increases, and your ability to follow through on other promises strengthens. You can commit to bigger and bigger things. Over time, you are able to accomplish any goal you set your mind to.

6. Gain perspective

Writing daily keeps the drama right-sized and on the page. When you are going through a rough patch, it’s hard to remember you didn’t always feel this way. It’s equally hard to imagine that you won’t feel this way forever.

When I was younger, I had a tendency toward depression. Depression seriously affects your perspective and prevents you from seeing a way out. You start to believe you have always been depressed, and you can easily lose hope of ever feeling happy again. But my journals were always there to remind me that just a week or two ago, I was content and enjoying simple pleasures.

If I go back even further, I can see how I was able to pull myself out of the last dark spell. I gain perspective and benefit from documenting what’s worked in the past. So if depression sneaks up on me again, it will have fewer teeth because I know I fought back successfully before and I’m confident I can do so again.

Daily journaling reminds me that contrary to how I’m feeling right now, I haven’t always felt this way, nor will I feel like this forever.

7. Identify patterns

If you write daily, over the course of a few weeks, you may begin to see useful patterns. Small things that may have escaped you now provide clarity, highlighting possible ways to improve your life or grow emotionally.

“I have a headache,” becomes, “I always seem to get headaches on Tuesday afternoons.” Which expands into, “Maybe the friend I have dinner with every Tuesday night is not supportive of the direction I’m trying to move in.”

Soon, you realize, “I need to meet some new people who are supportive of my path.”

8. Retire from crisis management

Journaling daily keeps you on top of issues, concerns, problems. You resolve conflicts more quickly and with less damage. Your journal becomes an “early warning” mechanism.

Think of it like the little red light on your dashboard, signaling that you’ve got another 50 miles before you run out of gas. Wouldn’t it suck if the car just quit? Isn’t it much easier to have that leeway to find a gas station and fill up – or shake the couch cushions for a few bucks so you can get to work? Then you can avoid that sheepish call admitting you ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere.

Same thing with journaling. For example, warning bells suddenly go off that you may be taking on too many projects and you’re in danger of splitting a seam. Instead of suffering a catastrophic burnout, you calmly delegate. Then you get yourself a massage and some extra sleep. The warning bells are silenced – another crisis averted.

Writing daily works for me and gets me where I want to go. I recommend you start daily and scale back from there if you feel the need. You can always write less, but give yourself the chance to enjoy the multitude of benefits you’ll gain from a dedicated daily journaling practice.

7 Ways to Beat the Journaling “Blahs”

7 Ways to Beat the Journaling “Blahs”

Let’s face it. As much as we love journaling and all the benefits it brings, journal writing is not always a picnic.

Sometimes we just get, well… sick of it. We’re bored with our journals, bored with our writing – even bored with listening to ourselves.

Here are some tips that have worked well for me in the past when I’ve hit the journaling wall. Give one of them a try next time you don’t want to journal and see if they work for you. Let me know how it goes – I always love to hear about your experience!

1. Journal about why you don’t want to

Yes, this is a bit of a trick. But it’s okay to trick ourselves into action once in awhile. When you don’t feel like writing, just write about why you don’t feel like journaling. Your writing may sound like that of a petulant 3 year old, but that’s okay. I don’t wanna! I hate journaling! This is stupid. This is boring!

Once you’re done venting, you may discover that you start writing about the real reasons why you don’t want to journal. Maybe you’re about to hit on some inconvenient truth. Maybe you’re on the cusp of discovering something about yourself that’s going to shatter your worldview, shake up your life. (That is scary stuff. Take it slowly.)

Maybe you’re mired in perfectionism. Worried that all this journaling is happening but you’re not seeing any progress. Or you still can’t write. Or you’re not doing it properly.

Or perhaps you’re concerned deep down about privacy and your fear of being discovered is hampering your desire to document your world.

Maybe you’re just worried about the long-term consequences of putting it in writing — whatever “it” is.

2. Change it Up

Sometimes we fall into a rut. It’s been said the only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth of the hole. While rituals and regularity can be helpful in establishing habits, a ritual that steers you into a rut is a hinderence. It’s time to shake things up and try something new in your journal.

Write someplace you’ve never written before. Switch morning for evening and vice versa. Try a different pen. Just do something different, something new. A change of scenery can have a huge impact on your journaling.

Novel experiences physically alter your brain chemistry, stimulating you and boosting creativty and motivation. It’s an instant hit of inspiration!

3. Get Creative

If your journal writing has become tiresome, try putting the words aside for a day. Try taking photos instead to tell the story of your life.

Infuse your journaling with some heart. Or make a collage to explain how you’re feeling. One of my favorite ways to collage is to chop up old magazines and use the headlines and text to tell my own narrative.

Try some art journaling.

4. Use Tools

There are plenty of journal writing tools out there, including great decks of cards that supply you with ideas for topics to write on. I really like the Wide Open deck and the Inner Outings kit.

Sometimes a little external nudge will get you moving in the right direction.

5. Use Prompts — or don’t

If you normally use prompts to write in your journal, try taking a break from that and just write from your heart and mind. If your writing is normally unstructured, try a journaling prompt to get you writing again.

6. Change Your Point of View

Write in the third person. Write from the point of view of yourself as a child, or as your significantly-older self. This exercise is like looking at a familiar room while hanging upside down. Everything seems new and different.

7. Take a Break

Although I’m a big believer in the value of daily journaling, it’s okay to take a break, too. I need a day or two off every once in awhile myself. If you’re new to journaling, it’s a good idea to write regularly until it becomes a habit. But if you’ve been doing it awhile, there’s no reason you can’t take a few days away from the page. Go for a walk, get some fresh air.

I almost always find that a little journaling vacation refreshes my desire to write, and I often have lots of material to cover when I return.

Journaling should be enjoyable (most of the time). So if you’re finding yourself sick of it, bored with it, or just plain don’t wanna, try one of these tools to get the juices flowing again.

Have your own recommendations for overcoming journaling blahs? Leave them in the comments below so we can all give it a shot!

5 Surefire Tips to Jumpstart Your Journaling

5 Surefire Tips to Jumpstart Your Journaling

Ah, the dry spell. Writer’s block. A journal writer’s worst enemy.

Sometimes all you need to get going in your journal is a gentle push into writing mode. It doesn’t really matter what you write about to get there. It’s like jump-starting a car with a dead battery; once you hit that voltage, it runs effortlessly on its own. The trick is generating that spark.

If your Parking Lot is empty and you’re convinced you have nothing to say, try one of these five methods.

1. Describe your surroundings in detail.

Writing about what’s directly in front of you is an approachable way to get moving. No intimidating Thoughts or Feelings to worry about. Just tell it like you see it. Funny thing is, the brain loves to supply its opinion about the world. As soon as you start describing, you may find yourself talking about what you think and feel. It’s a little trick on your subconscious.

If that doesn’t happen, then you have a great journal entry capturing a time and place. Perfectly respectable! We don’t have to spend all our time mired in Deep Thoughts – sometimes snapshots of everyday life make the best journal entries.

2. Write a letter to yourself.

This technique works especially well if you’ve hit a stumbling block in your life or are working on some weighty issue, like a career decision or a relationship standstill. Get into the headspace of your favorite person, real or imagined. The one you would turn to for advice.

Now write yourself a letter from their point of view, with observations and suggestions about your situation. Sometimes changing your perspective helps you see solutions or insights that were always there.

3. Become a Feature Story.

This is one of my favorites, and probably the most fun. I’ve found it extremely useful when I need to infuse a situation with some humor. If I’m down in the dumps about the state of my union, I’ll write a press release, Tabloid feature, or even a comic book style story.

When my houseboat was infested with poisonous mold that was making me very sick, I wrote a story called “The Adventures of Tea Tree Girl and Borax Boy,” centered around my battle with removing the mold, superhero style. I later posted it on a blog and it got rave reviews. That made me feel much better about the crap infiltrating my stateroom ceiling, and I can laugh about it in retrospect.

4. Write a Wish List.

Write ten sentences that start with the words “I wish.” When you’re done, grab the sentence that speaks loudest to you and write about it in detail. Your wish list may be petty things like new shoelaces or timeless desires like world peace.

Just get them down on the page without analyzing. You may be surprised with what surfaces!

5. Set the timer and go.

If all else fails, there’s nothing like a dose of timed writing to get the juices flowing. Set your timer for ten minutes and start writing. Don’t even pause until the ten minutes is up. If you have to write “I don’t know what to write” over and over, do it. Eventually your brain will get bored from doing that and throw something colorful your way.

Hopefully these tips will help you get the pen (or keyboard) moving in short order. Just push through – once you’re rolling it’s much easier.

Do you have any tricks that work for you? Post them in the comments so we can all try them out!