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!

7 Easy Steps to Be a Better Quitter

7 Easy Steps to Be a Better Quitter

Giving up negative behaviors is hard. But our bad habits and addictions hold us back from a truly fulfilling life.

This series of posts will walk you through the process of change from beginning to end. I’ll provide concrete tools and journaling prompts to uncover your motivation and get real about your habits. From identifying a behavior you’d like to change to maintaining your new healthy habits, I’ll walk you through the process beginning to end.

I used this process to quit smoking, change jobs, give up caffeine, start an exercise program, launch a new business and eliminate debt. It works!

Here is the outline of the series. Bookmark this page to follow along with the series.


#47: What do you want?

#47: What do you want?

Today I discovered the power of the most simple prompt in the world:

  • What do you want?

Try emphasizing different words in the question, and write your response each time. What do YOU want? (As opposed to what your mother or your partner wants for you.) What do you WANT? (Not what you need or what you feel like you should do.)

#46: What are you waiting for?

#46: What are you waiting for?

There’s many reasons why we don’t follow our dreams: we lack time, money or other resources; we fear failure (or success); we don’t know where to start. It’s too late, it’s too soon, it’s too silly to start.

We really believe these “reasons.” They sound perfectly plausible.

In fact, when you present these excuses to others, you probably get a sympathetic nod. “You stopped illustrating that children’s book because you don’t have time? I totally understand.” “You’re abandoning your dream of spending a summer in the Alps because work is too busy? I know how that goes.”

Other people agree with you because they’re telling themselves the same lie.

It’s time to stop lying to ourselves.

We may have perfectly legitimate reasons for not following the path that makes our souls sing. Or we may just have a long list of flimsy excuses. I’m betting it’s the latter.

The magic of journaling allows us to truly explore the reasons behind our motivations, actions, and inactions.

Seeing your truth in writing can be both startling and motivating. So get out your journal and turn to a blank page.

Ask yourself:

  • What am I waiting for?

Set a timer for ten minutes and write. Write everything that comes to mind, and don’t stop writing.

The first responses will be the usual: I don’t have time. I don’t have money. So and so won’t let me.

Keep journaling.

Next will come the deeper excuses: I’m afraid of failure. I’m afraid of success (!!!). I’m afraid people will think I’m selfish/crazy/irresponsible.

Those responses hit a little closer to home.

But keep journaling. The deeper you dig, the more real your answers become. Then you can ask yourself:

  • Are these reasons really more important than my dreams?

Once you see them spelled out on the page — the real reasons you’re not following your dreams — you just may realize they’re not as insurmountable as you thought. They may even appear downright silly.

You deserve to follow a path that brings you closer to joy with every step. Start the journey today.

#45: Well, I never!

#45: Well, I never!

Are you proud of what you’ve never done?

Or are there things you’d like try that you haven’t yet? This week’s prompt centers on the things we haven’t done.

In your journal, make two lists: things you’ve never done (thankfully!) and things you intend to do for the first time (soon!).

For example, if you’ve never been arrested, kudos to you. Doesn’t it feel good to write that accomplishment on the list?