November 24


5 Ways to Jumpstart Your Journal Writing When the Words Won’t Flow

Ever had one of those days when you sit down for your writing practice and you draw a blank? You know how wonderful it is to write, you know all the benefits, you remember how great it feels once you've delivered your words with unending delight to the blank page, but somehow you can't seem to muster up the flow. All your thoughts just feel ho-hum and ordinary and they seem so devoid of meaning and import.

If you've been journaling for a while, or your writing practice has grown stale, you might just need some journaling juice. Well, you've arrived just in time. The next time you grab your journal and are greeted with anything less than excitement and enthusiasm, try some of these on and see if it doesn't reconnect you to that glowing inner spark and brings you around to joyfully engage your inner world again.

1. Create a list. It might be a to-do list, a wildest dreams list, your gratitude list, a list of your favorite feelings, a list on your top values, a list of your gifts and strengths, a list of things that make you happy, or a list of the turning points in your life. Doodle away and you'll discover that the ‘less is more' tactic of list writing will open the floodgates to insights, ideas and an infinite array of things you want to explore.

2. Use a prompt. This is one of my all-time favorites and never leaves me standing high and dry. Use your favorite quote as a writing prompt. Allow the quote to propel you on a path of exploration and discovery. You might share your experience or your dreams and visions. Sometimes I'll pick one of my favorite books, especially those thought a day books, and flip through the pages until I find a thought that sparks me into writing. Another kind of prompt to use are phrases like, “I remember when…”, “What if…”, “I know…”, “I feel…”, “I see…” or “I am…”

3. Use a picture as a writing prompt. Go to Flickr and type in a word or phrase that meanders in your mind in this moment and sit with it for a bit, see where your words want to go with it. You could also pull out your family album and select a picture that is calling to you. Look at the picture for one minute. Close your eyes and take three deep breaths inhaling the image of the picture into your heart. Allow the flow of breath to release whatever message is contained in the picture. Open your eyes and free flow write for a few minutes or longer. Another of my favorites are cards – Tarot cards, Goddess cards, Course in Miracles cards, Animal Medicine cards, etc. Pick one and allow the message from the image to sink into your being and move you into your writing.

4. Free write. This is my personal favorite. You can start with writing about your day and what it feels like or with whatever thought is most present in your mind. This can initially start off as a mind dump but can turn up some very insightful gems. Just play and wander aimlessly, allow yourself to unleash and the words to pour from you. Don't censor anything, especially the silliness,  it all helps to create space for the kernels of creativity wanting to surface.

5. Draw. Sometimes words aren’t the medium to express the inexpressible. At times like these, it's essential to suspend judgment and know that you are dancing in divine space, contrary to outward appearances. Allow yourself to doodle and draw and let whatever images want to surface to find their way onto the page. You do not have to be an artist and there's no need for drawing skills. You just have to unleash the part of you that wants to express without words. Imagery is your primary means of inner communication.

If you can't get past the ‘artist' thing another way you can tap the visual aspect of your being is to draw a mind map. Pick a word or a phrase that captures the present moment for you and write it down in the middle of the page. Draw a circle around it and then draw lines out from that primary circle, with additional thoughts that may arise. Use different shapes, lines, colored pens or pencils, draw images that pop up for you. Unleash the artist, especially if you’ve had no formal training. Before you know it you'll have plenty to ‘write about!'

Journaling is a powerful tool to awaken your awareness and upgrade your consciousness. There will be days when you don't feel like doing it and your own lack of flow might indicate that it's not the thing to do. Know that sticking with your practice – especially when you're feeling the lack of inspiration – will serve to deepen your commitment and you will inevitably reap the richest rewards. No matter what, keep writing.


Energy Shifts, Free Your Essence, Journal Writing, Writing Practice

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  1. Adela,
    It’s amazing how many approaches we can take to initiate the journaling flow. I like your list; it’s broad based enough to work for anyone. The visual approach, especially with the mind mapping, can really open up the intuition as you listen for association that pop up. Images we are drawn to can be a revealing start; you never know where that may lead, with associations and memories they may invoke. Of course the list is a great standby; they’re less intimidating than paragraph form. What a great roundup of ideas!

    I have chosen your post, 5 Ways to Jumpstart Your Journal Writing When the Words Won’t Flow, for the #JournalChat Pick of the Day on 11/27/12 for all things journaling on Twitter;
    I will post a link on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, my blog and website Refresh with Dawn Herring, and in my weekly Refresh Journal:

    #JournalChat Live is every Thursday, 5 EST/2 PST, for all things journaling on Twitter; our topic this week is Your Journaling: Your Best Day.

    Thanks again for this fab list and your insight on journal writing.

    Be refreshed,
    Dawn Herring
    Host of #JournalChat Live and Links Edition on Twitter
    Author of The Birthday Wall: Create a Collage to Celebrate Your Child

    1. So honored to have you pop by, Dawn, and add your voice to the journaling jumpstart ideas. Love your site theme of ‘Refresh.’ It’s the aliveness that moves through us that unleashes our creative essence. Here’s to more of that! Thanks so much for sharing my post. 🙂

  2. This morning I started out with #2, prompted by a “centering thought” from the Chopra Center’s 21-day Meditation Challenge and that resulted in a list (#1). Ended up writing 4 1/2 pages! What was the thought? “Today, I treat myself to moments of luxury.” Taking quiet time to write in a journal is one of those luxuries.
    All great tips. Thanks Adela. Enjoy your day.

  3. Blocks
    Knock, Knock
    The brain unlocks
    Cool Space
    No words
    No feeling
    Daggers flow through the hand
    Knock, knock
    The brain unlocks
    The next step unfolds

    Thanks Adela—

      1. Keep your pen moving, and allow the invitation of that movement.
        The ease and flow of your pen will invoke words to arise from within
        and spill onto your page. The peace of resistance becomes your
        master piece.

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