The unexamined life is not worth living. -Socrates
Journaling is a great way to explore thoughts, beliefs, opinions, and feelings. Consistent journalists will improve their writing skills, as well. A journal can be valuable simply as a record of what has occurred in a day, but it can be much more than that. Here are some ideas for when you get stuck. These ideas are aimed at kids, but many will work for adults, as well.
Timed Free Writing
Set a timer for a certain amount of time – three to 10 minutes is a good range. Then write without stopping. Write whatever pops into your head. Don’t stop to think, don’t erase–just write. Stop when the timer rings. You may be amazed at what you come up with.
Lists are great when you have writer’s block and are a good exercise in the fluency – one of the hallmarks of creative thinking. To get the most out of your list, keep going, even after you think you have run out of ideas. Often it is one of those last ideas that is the keeper. Some ideas for lists:
- Things you want to do in the next six months, year, or five years.
- Places you want to visit
- What you would do if you were not limited by finances
- Traits that make a good friend
- Books you want to read
- Books you have read rated with stars according to what you thought of them.
- Goals for the future
- Every single feeling you had today
Some scientists think that when you write with your non-dominant hand, you access a different part of your brain. Try it. It may be sloppy, but you may also have some interesting things to say.*
Start in the middle of the page, and write around in a spiral until you get to the outside of the page.
Start a sentence with “I want…” or “I love…” or “I am thankful for…” or if you are in a bad mood, “I hate…” finish the sentence. Then write the same sentence start again, but finish it differently. Then do it again, and again, and again. Try to fill the whole page.
Add a Photo
Find a picture – maybe one from when you were little, maybe one you took this morning. Glue it into your journal and write about it.
Create in Comics
Whatever you want to write about, do it in comics with speech bubbles and caption boxes instead of text. If you feel like you can’t draw, use stick figures.
Make a Web
You’ve probably done these in school for brainstorming ideas. They also work well for exploring your feelings. Put a word in the center of the page – it could be a feeling like anger or fear, or it might be an event like moving or summer break. Circle it, then write a related word nearby, circle it and connect them with a line. Keep drawing lines and circles with new words and ideas. See what happens.
*Interesting fact: If you were to lose the use of your dominant hand and had to start writing with the other one, your writing would eventually look the same as it does now. The way you form letters is more about your brain than your muscles.