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.
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!