Experts in sleep medicine recommend establishing evening rituals to signal your body that it’s bedtime. Changing into PJ’s, brushing your teeth, drawing the blinds, lowering the lights, reading a book in bed – every night beginning at 9 PM. Then your brain begins to embrace the ritual, getting sleepy on cue so when it’s lights out at 10PM, you’re off to dreamland without further ado.
In a lot of ways, writer’s block is like insomnia. I sleep every night without fail and I write every morning without incident.
So why, all of a sudden, does the inevitable sneak up on me? Why does my body decide one night that it would rather stay up to see the sun rise or enjoy a seriously blank page?
Since I’ve suffered from insomnia and have been cured by these sleep rituals, I figured the same could apply to journaling. Writing rituals get my brain ready for journaling, signal my head that soon it will be time to focus, sit down at a table and fill up some blank pages. No surprises.
Waking up, getting dressed, walking to the cafe, ordering my beverage, and pulling out my notebook at the same time each morning has become a solid ritual, and by the time I open to the blank page, I’m ready to go.
The walk is especially helpful, as I often clear my head enough to know what’s on my mind by the time I arrive at my writing spot and open my journal.
I really do think it helps since I very rarely experience journaling writer’s block these days. The routine gets my brain in journal writing mode without fail.
Ways to establish rituals
Establishing some rituals might help you stave off the fear of the blank page. Humans are creatures of habit, and even the most spontaneous of us thrive on a little routine.
1. Journal at the same time each day
Making a habit of writing every morning or completing your day with an evening journaling session helps your brain anticipate the activity.
2. Journal in the same location
For me it’s the cafe. Do you have a particular corner in your home where you like to journal? Perhaps the park, your office, or in your car?
3. Use Sensory Cues
Establish mini signals, like preparing a cup of your favorite tea, putting on a particular CD, or lighting a scented candle.
You may discover you already have rituals that journaling can become a part of. Instead of reading in bed, try writing. Or before reading the morning paper, strike out a few pages of longhand.
Establishing a ritual will ready your head for writing, letting you make journaling an integral part of your daily life while avoiding writer’s block.
What rituals do you find useful for journal writing?