DO YOU FEEL bored or stuck in your journaling practice, or have you had a difficult time starting or being consistent with your writing?
Using the same technique every day, whether it’s morning pages or free-writing or writing prompts, can lead to writing that feels repetitive and shallow. Journaling can begin to feel like a chore, rather than a precious time for self-discovery and clarity. When this happens, you might begin to skip journaling altogether. Then, a month or so later, you feel a little empty and missing the benefits that journaling brought to your life.
If you have experienced any of this, it simply means you are human — I can guarantee that 100% of other journal writers, including me, have also experienced this specific form of ennui at one time or another.
Fortunately, there is a cure: try a new technique. Not only does trying something new wake up your inner creativity, learning new forms of journaling adds richness and depth to your journaling practice. You can pick and choose what works for you to create your own amalgam of journaling methods uniquely suited to your own needs and personality.
7 Innovative Journaling Techniques
- Perspective journaling — As the name implies, this technique involves writing the same event from different perspectives. This technique can help you work through relationship issues or conflicts and gain understanding of how challenges can help you grow. For example, if you and your significant other (SO) are having a disagreement about a choice you need to make together, write about that choice from your perspective, your SO’s perspective, and a bystander’s perspective. You will gain clarity for yourself, as well as compassion and understanding for your SO’s viewpoint. It’s also a great technique to use for fiction and memoir writing practice and reflection. Try writing the same scene from three different points of view (POV) — first, second, and third — or from two or three different characters’ POVs.
- Essence journaling – This journaling technique is ideal for the time-challenged journaler. While it may not provide the kinds of emotional and psychological benefits of deeper journaling techniques, it’s quick, easy, and will help you maintain your connection to your daily journaling practice. What is it? Each day, write one word or sentence that encapsulates the essence of your entire day. You might want to record a significant event (“Mom’s 70th birthday and everyone in the family came.”) or the overall feeling of the day (“Beautiful day — spent most of it outdoors gardening and feeling grateful for my health.”) What you choose to capture is up to you, of course. You can also incorporate it as an addition to your regular journaling practice, as a “header” of sorts to your daily entry. When you’re short on time, maybe this will be all that you write. You could also use your essence sentence as a prompt for deeper writing.
- Bullet Journaling — Created by Ryder Carroll, Bullet Journaling is a productivity journaling method to track tasks, projects, and events. If you want to increase your productivity, stay on task, and maintain a record of accomplishments during the year, you may want to try this method. It’s not a reflective journaling method, so I suggest keeping a bullet journal as a supplement to a reflective or self-growth journal in which you process emotions and thoughts. To learn more about bullet journaling, check out Carroll’s youtube video.
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- Interstitial Journaling — Speaking of productivity journaling, I recently discovered this interesting technique through this article on Medium. The idea is to journal your way through your to-do list every day. Instead of merely checking off each task as you do it, take a moment to journal during that transition from one task to the next. As you check off your task, jot down at least the following three things: the time, notes about what you just worked on, and thoughts about the next task on your list, including how you plan to start on it. According to the author, the benefits of this type of journaling include reduced procrastination and increased attention and mindfulness to the task at hand.
- Proprioceptive writing — This method, created by Linda Trichter Metcalfe and Tobin Simon in the early 2000s, helps you tune into your inner voice and reflect upon the meaning of your thoughts as they are written. Begin by writing your thoughts exactly as they come to you, as if you were speaking them aloud. If your thoughts wander, go with them. As you write, pay attention to the thoughts, and whenever a word or phrase catches your attention, ask the question: What do I mean by[word or phrase]? Then write what you hear in response. For example, maybe you wrote something about feeling shame, and that word catches your attention. You would explore that further by completing the sentence, “By ‘shame’ I mean …” Proprioceptive writing explores and clarifies your thought processes, brings you in touch with yourself, and helps you to reveal underlying emotions.
- Collage or scrapbook journaling — This method helps you capture the essence of a the day in visual form. You can use words and images cut out of magazines or newsletters, as well as snapshots. If you don’t feel you have time to cut out a number of images, you can use just one large image that represents your experiences or feelings that day. For a great example of how this is done, check out this video on collage journaling by Jamie Ridler. If you want to add to the collage journaling idea, you can write a sentence or paragraph or two reflecting on the collage process and what the images mean to you.
- Turn the Journal — Though I have done this when art journaling, I’ve never thought of it as a specific technique until I read this article by Michal Korzonek. The idea is straightforward: whenever you’re feeling stuck or bored with your journaling, turn the book and start writing in a different direction. (This is an analog-only technique.) You can write in circles or spirals, around the border of the page, or in paragraph blocks. It’s strangely soothing and will help you break through mental/emotional barriers. I would add to this the option of changing colors of pen or pencil.
Please answer these 2 questions in the comments area:
- Which of these techniques most appeal to you to try?
- Have you used any of these techniques (past or present)? If so, please share your experience of using them.