Journal Writing 101
Top Tips for Journal Writing

Top Tips for Journal Writing

Have you ever purchased a gorgeous designer journal with the most honourable of intentions, placed it lovingly on your bedside table together with your favourite pen and then….watched as it gradually gathered dust before slowly being buried beneath an ever-growing pile of novels or glossy magazines? Or is it just me who periodically engages in this strange behaviour?

You see, I love good quality stationery - journals and notebooks. I love the look, the feel and the well…potential of all of those blank pages encased in covers showcasing exquisite works of art. Those pages might one day hold my life story (a future bestseller, of course) or they might store the brilliant answers to life's big questions that I magically discover during my ingenious writing sessions. Yes - there is just so much potential in those pages.

Well, I decided recently it was time to stop with the procrastinating. Time to be a grown up and just do it! Just start writing!! Of course, it wasn't as simple as that (for me anyway) - if it was I would have started years ago. Finally, I determined a little research was necessary in order to create some traction, some momentum - and if I'm totally honest to give myself just a little more time to procrastinate.

Click to go in our online competitionsI purchased two 'how to' books: Stephanie Dowrick's Creative Journal Writing: the art and heart of reflection and Time to Write to Yourself: a guide to journaling for emotional health and self-development by Dianne Sandland. After digesting these highly recommended reads I am now able to present my tried and tested favourite new antidotes for journal writers' writer's block.

1. Recount Your Day
This one can start out like an old-fashioned diary entry but can end up much more. As we all know the important thing is to get started and writing about what happened during your day is a basic but sure fire way to make that happen. Move on from simply describing events to exploring emotions, connections, future directions.

2. Get outside!
Yep, simply open the door and walk outside - with journal and pen in hand, of course. Sit in the backyard, on the front step, under a tree or at the beach. It doesn't really matter where as long as it's in the fresh air. Take some deep breaths, look around at the wonder of nature surrounding you and you'll be amazed at how the words can just flow.

3. Use Your Senses
This one works both indoors and outdoors. Start with one of the senses - sight, hearing, touch, smell or taste - and write as descriptively as you can about one particular aspect of your day where this sense was activated. It might have been the smell of coffee brewing or the annoying sound of your neighbour's lawnmower while you were trying to have a Sunday morning sleep in. Write as extensively as you can about the event.

4. Free Writing
Your mind is totally blank. Simply start writing (you can write exactly that - 'my mind is blank') and keep at it until the words begin to flow effortlessly. Don't stop, pause, judge, re-read, edit or think too much about what you're writing. You'll be surprised how little time it takes before you find that state of flow.

5. Use Prompts
If all else fails, here are some of my favourite Dianne Sandland journaling prompts:
" If I could do it all again…
" When my eyes are closed…
" If I were famous…
" If I had unlimited money…

Journal writing can be such a rewarding, engaging, enjoyable and enlightening pleasure. If you've always wanted to give it a try but, like me, got stuck at the starting post then try some of the above tips - there'll be no stopping you!

Contributing Writer:
As well as running an online gift service -PamperBoxes- Michelle Anderson has a keen interest in the area of emotional well-being. This stems from her ongoing recovery from severe work-related burnout and injury. Michelle writes a blog on the topic which you'll find at

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