3 tips for the reluctant journaler


If you’re like me, you have several beautiful journals and a couple of fancy purple pens that are just lying around waiting to fill the pages marked with golden lines and nothing more.

No words.

Because you can’t for the life of you think of what words to write on them, and you dislike your handwriting and fear your scrawling scribbles will mar the beauty of … what? The blankness?


Who cares? Your handwriting is you and you are beautiful and your words will be too, even if they’re not.

Tip # 1: Let go. Let go of the worry and the fear and just write. Let go of the rules, the shoulds. What you think you should write or what it should look like written down. Don’t think. Write whatever comes to mind without considering its meaning, its spelling, whether to print or to write in cursive. Skip lines, write on the lines, write over the lines so that they cross through the center of your words, smash your words together omitting spaces, ignore punctuation and capitalization, turn the journal sideways and string words perpendicular to the lines, drape your sentences in hilly waves that meander across two pages, not just one. Let your thoughts ramble, frolic, be nonsensical whimsy.

Try it: Let letters and words flow for two minutes for starters. Try this for a couple of days and see what happens. Maybe your fear will dissipate. Maybe journaling will be freeing. The way it’s meant to be, not stifling the way we’ve been making it out to be.

Or maybe time is of the essence and you can’t find the time to journal. Or you feel guilty setting aside time for yourself.

Tip # 2:  You don’t need to spend an elaborate moment journaling each day. Don’t make it a job. The point is not to feel it’s demanding something of you. Rather, you want to feel freer because you’re taking a couple of minutes for yourself to explore the world around you. Jot down basic observations without too much thought. Look out the window and write down objective descriptions of what you see, hear, feel. Or look inside your house and do the same. Eat something slowly and consider your five senses and jot them down. At the end of each brief observation, reserve a moment to scribble down an emotion or thought attached to them.

Try it: Set aside a couple of minutes to try observation/sensory journaling every day for a week. Try to be consistent. Perhaps you write five minutes after you wake up each day or five minutes before you go to bed each night. Add the journaling time into your schedule and gift yourself the luxury of taking that time for yourself. You deserve it.

Uncertainty may be what’s holding you back. Or, perhaps you get bored easily and need to change up your journaling topics, or, maybe you don’t want a journal filled with random thoughts.

Tip #3: Before journaling, decide on a theme for your beautifully bound blank pages. Maybe it’s a Mom Memory journal where you write about your experiences with your children each day. Perhaps it’s a Workout Log where you keep track of your workout experiences and thoughts about them each day (intensity levels, stress levels pre- and post-workout, motivation levels, what, how much, when, etc.). You could keep a travel journal, a food journal, journal about restaurants you visit, parks, vacations, a prayer journal, a journal about daily hopes, dreams, or worries, etc.

Or, before journaling, create a list of writing prompts. Then, each day, go down the list and write to the prompt of the day. You could even write the prompts at the top of each page in your journal and follow the topics as you move through the journal. Prompt suggestions: What’s your favorite day of the week and why? Which season is most important to you and why? What’s your favorite part of the weekend? Which person in your life do you hold in the highest esteem and why? What personality trait do you admire most and why? What most disappoints you? Where do you find joy in simple moments?

Or, try something new. Write poetically. Explore your inner poet. You could write poetry with figurative language, alliteration, personification, onomatopoeia, similes, rhyme, music, metaphors, repetition, etc. You could write Haiku poetry, limericks,  sonnets, villanelles, acrostic poems, cinquains, etc.

Try it: Learn more about poetry and types of poems here or here. Here or here. Or here.

Ready? Let’s get started. Let me know if you’re willing to give it a go. We could challenge each other. Leave me a comment and let me know which tip you’d like to try. Meet back here in a week and we can update each other on how our first few days of journaling went. Or, email me author@ceceliaearl.com

(And if you don’t have a journal, or you truly don’t want to write longhand, open a new word document and type away on your laptop! Or try voice to text to make it even easier to let your thoughts flow onto the screen.)

PS And I’d love to see those beautiful journals of yours! Tag me in an Instagram or Twitter post featuring your bound pages that won’t be blank for long!

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