5 Journaling Hacks to Get Un-Stuck and Keep You Going When You Have Nothing to Write About

I read many online Journaling discussion groups that are in no short supply of journal keepers who have become discouraged.  Some forget to journal for periods of time or become too busy in life to find the time to journal.  Others simply feel that life’s daily mundane duties and tasks are not noteworthy and cease writing.

Here are five hacks that I have used to pick up wherever I have left off and get back on track again:

1.  Pick up your journal and start writing where you are now. I see many people in journaling forums who have had a lapse in their journal writing, requesting advice on whether or not to wait and begin again at the beginning of the next week or month.  This is an understandable question, and it is a thought which every journaler encounters at some point. However, life does not begin or end in line with the first and last day of the calendar week or month. Just pick back up, starting on the day you are on and begin writing.  You may then begin to write about things that you recall happening in previous days, weeks, or months. Just make some notation that you are recalling something that previously happened and perhaps a note of when the event happened. You could even make a notation regarding why you haven’t been journaling recently (i.e. lack of motivation, time, etc.).

2. List at least one thing you are grateful for today. Even when you don’t feel like your daily duties and tasks are noteworthy, at least make a note of something or someone you are grateful for each day. This is absolutely nothing new.  But it needs to be repeated as often as possible.   Remember, each typical day is not a grand adventure, nor does it typically result in some ground-breaking accomplishment.  Most days we all spend working on small manageable tasks and duties.  That’s why they are in our daily or weekly to-do list. However, each day we can identify at least one small thing to be grateful for.  This can help to keep you motivated and appreciative of the small things that matter the most.

3. Close the day with a daily review. Write about what went well (or not so well) today and a few thoughts about it. Is there some action you can take to continue improving the situation?  Is there something you plan to do tomorrow to create a good result or to improve what happened today?

4. Write a short description of at least one role-model or mentor. Take a moment to write a few words about someone who is, or was, a mentor or a positive role-model to you. This exercise can be a powerful reminder to recall attributes of someone who has been a positive influence in your life.  This person may not even be a “role model” or a “mentor”.  It could be as simple as describing a positive attribute you have noticed about a complete stranger.   “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius begins with an inventory of his mentors and short descriptions of what he learned or admired about each of them. Books, such as “Tribe of Mentors” and “Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferris are collections of sage advice and wisdom from a wide variety of people who can offer us valuable guidance.   If you are struggling with ways to improve yourself, you may only need to look to the positive role models in your life to identify ways to make dramatic improvements. What differences could you make if you began to emulate the positive characteristics of just a couple of people you have witnessed demonstrating how it is done? These notes can be as simple as notes about someone who remained positive, or maintained a great sense of humor, during difficult situations in life.  Then, try to emulate those characteristics. You may even be the one person who becomes a positive influence by passing these attributes along to someone else.

5. Relax!!! This is not a competitive sport. Your reward is in the form of self-improvement.  Oftentimes, I see journal keepers who become discouraged because they compare their artistic and creative abilities with others. Don’t let this discourage you. Some of us can’t draw stick figures. And, our pens bleed through the paper…It ain’t pretty.  Or, others feel that their life story is not as exciting or impressive as others.  Just let it go… you are not writing to impress anyone.  Or, others pressure themselves to make journaling a very rigid highly structured endeavor.  Too much rigidity and self-induced pressure will cause you to burn out.  Remember, this is about continuous self-improvement, getting organized, making plans, achieving your tasks and goals, becoming more introspective, and yes…for many, honing their creativity.  All of these things require a certain amount of effort and hard work. But, whatever you do, DO NOT cause yourself to burn out or become discouraged from comparison with others.  Using your journal for continuous self-improvement can be the one area where we all get a participation trophy (A better you!). Your only competitor is who you were yesterday.  If you keep it simple and stay consistent, you can make drastic improvements; one small accomplishment at a time.  

Hopefully these five hacks can help you to get un-stuck in your writing.  I realize there are many additional ways to get un-stuck, such as journaling prompts, brain dumps, writing letters, drawing, sketching, doodling, writing poetry/songs, and the list could go on…  But, I use these hacks occasionally  to just get things back on track when I my writing has lapsed or when I feel unmotivated.