There are many styles that people adopt when they write in a journal. So if you’ve never done this before, or, better yet, if you would like to play around with other ways to write in one, here are a few ideas. Pick a quiet spot and begin.

1. Pretend you are writing a letter to yourself.  This is the most common way to go about journaling.  It may feel silly at first but it is the easiest way to identify your thoughts.  Eventually you will completely forget how weird it feels when you begin writing things that have been buried for years.  Have fun with it. “Dear John, I feel goofy writing to you. I mean I should know what you’re thinking since I AM you … but I have the feeling that I keep a lot from you so here goes nothing … or ... hopefully something! Ha ha!”

2.  Do you like magazines? Need to get rid of a pile?  Cut out ads, words, sunsets, shells, lakes, moons.  Images inspire us and help us tap into an imagination most of us don’t use on a regular basis.  Spend twenty minutes just cutting things out that make you feel good. Then choose as many as you like to glue or tape to pages. Add words around the clippings.

3.  Get a joke book, a trivia book or a book of prayers and open it up to any page. Write it down in your journal and do some free-associating. Whatever comes to mind. The point is to JUST WRITE.  These exercises are about freedom of expression.   Maybe today you won’t know what to do but laugh at this suggestion but next week you’ll write a knock-knock joke in your journal and remember a conversation with a cousin about how much you want to swim with sharks.

4. Don’t let your boss catch you daydreaming.  Get it out of your head and onto a post it note, stuff it into your pocket or purse and write about it later.  When you whip out your journal, write down exactly what you wrote on the scrap of paper or glue it onto the page. Follow the thought. It popped into your noggin for a reason. Trust me on this one!

5. Play the “If I were a ____” game.   I have long ago stopped writing angst-filled prose in my journals.  I prefer play.  Check this out.  "If I were a color/car/animal/movie character today, what/which/who would it be and why?"  Neat huh? 

With practice, you will start coming up with your own prompts. Here’s to a better life through journaling!


Thanks Gizelle for the blog. I'm writing in my first blog. This is a blog, right?

I wanted to make a comment about journaling from experience. Around 1975 to 1998 I journaled approx. 20 journals, and they all sucked!

What I mean is, I was writing all about my weaknesses, fears, troubles, loneliness, and complaints. Can you imagine 20 books of nagging and complaining? I called them the Pity Volumes. I found out later that I was much better served by counseling.

I burnt them in a spiritual celebration while backpacking in 1998. Yes, I packed in 20 books with my supplies for an overnight stay off trail. Twenty books weigh a lot, but it made hiking out symbolically and literally much more significant.

I just wanted to share this journaling experience, because not all journaling is good journaling . . . But maybe I'm wrong about that . . . They represented years of sadness, but in the end symbolized breaking the chains of a painful past. All’s well that ends well, no?


LandMime, I personally do not make the choice to be morose in my journaling but like you, it took MANY years (try 30 years) of confessional writing to get to where I am. We are where we are. Recognize that a darker place brought you into the light and that it is very likely you would not be who you are today if you had not made the decision to reveal those darker moments to yourself.


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