What I do when my journaling goes to juvy

Aren’t words the best?

It’s so fun to learn new words. To let cool sounding phrases roll on your tongue and flow out of our mouth and into the realm of sound.

But for journalers, diarists, letter writers, chronic Post-it Note users, and lovers of lists, there is such satisfaction to be gained in the words we put on our pages. We love the words themselves, the clarity we get as we write them, and if its relevant, the productivity boost we get from taking the time to sort through our thoughts.

From time to time, I start to feel as though the benefits are a bit compromised. That I am not getting the most out of my practice. And when that happens I notice a decline in the quality of my writing.

I associate this decline in my writing with going to juvy. My brain isn’t working at a regular level of awareness, and I’m unwilling to
work on my own stuff. This trip to juvy in my journal usually
includes an excess of words like these:
Freaked out
Stressed out
A lot

Don’t get me wrong here – there is nothing wrong with these phrases and if using them as part of your journaling practice is still generating the results you want, there probably isn’t an issue.

For me, I notice that when I use too many of these words and phrases, I am disengaging from my process. I’m writing because its a habit, but I’m not really diving into whatever it is I’m writing about.

I’m skirting around my issues and most likely thinking about something else instead of focusing on writing.

I might even be too distracted while I’m writing. There might be a movie on in the background or even better, a needy child and instead of giving my journaling time the attention it deserves, I am just trying to get it done as fast as possible.

When I notice this pattern, I make a little game for myself.

I decide to challenge my brain with a focus on a simple challenge that gets me to re-engage with my journal writing process.

My game starts with a list.

I make a list of 26 words, one for each letter of the alphabet. I use online dictionaries to help me find ideas and I create a set of 26-words that I am committed to using in the pages of my journal.

Sometimes I choose a theme. Summer. Holidays. Kids. Career. 26 words about problem solving.

I keep the list with me and check off each one as I use it. I don’t go in order, I just make it a little private game that I enjoy alone.

And for this dorky word loving chick, it is totally, ridiculously, fun. It gets me back into my writing and can lead to new sentences and inner dialogues that I may not otherwise have experienced.

The list can be in your journal, on your computer, in a note on your Smartphone. Just making the list can increase the quality of your writing.

I’ve included one of my lists for you here. This one is loosely based on the topic of change and transition.


What lists can you come up with that will help you re-engage in your journaling practice? Share with us in the comment below – we can start a list revolution! 

Like this article? Please feel free to use it on your own blog or newsletter. I simply ask that you please include this blurb:
Sara Marchessault is a coach, writer, and mom who helps busy women use journaling to create more space in their life for being productive without feeling overwhelmed. To learn more about Sara and her work in the world, please visit joyfulbydesign.com or saramarchessault.com.

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