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Pen and Paper

So, what is a personal journal and why keep one?

What is it? A personal journal is a daily record of thoughts, impressions and autobiographical information that you write in a notebook or type on your computer. Your journal is often a great source of ideas that will help you remember events or emotions that you felt during an event. You should make a habit out of writing in your journal.

Why? Writing daily is great practice and it will help you create even more ideas of what to write. Writing is a wonder way to express your creative mind. Think of journaling as you taking a snapshot of your life that you want to revisit. You are actually capturing slices of your life that will allow you to learn more about yourself. Journaling is a great way to revisit pieces of your life that you do not want to forget.

What do you write? Explore different ways to write about what you are feeling about the events of your day. Reread your journal writing and underline topics or ideas that you want to rewrite about on another day.

5 tips to help you journal

  1. Try writing nonstop for 15 minutes straight. If you are at a point when you do not know what to write, write, “I do not know what to write” until something comes to your mind.
  2. Focus on ideas. Do not worry about your handwriting. As long as you are able to reread it, there is nothing else to keep you from continuing in your thoughts.
  3. Always date your entries. This will help with chronologically tracing your thoughts and events. Reread entries and write about the interesting subjects or new ideas that become of what you have written.
  4. Push an idea as far as you can. Always ask the “5 W’s” Who, What Where, When and Why?
  5. Experiment in your writing. Example: Write something describing how you would react emotionally to an experience that happened in a different country. Use your emotions and thoughts in a different culture or setting.

8 ideas to help you select the topics to write in your journal.

  1. Read your journal and find the topics that you wanted to explore further. Look for your underlined topics.
  2. Free writing is brainstorming in your journal. If you are stuck, start listing words that describe the emotions that you are feeling right now. You will be surprised how emotions will spark ideas in your head.
  3. Cluster writing is also a great way to focus your writing and to develop ideas. Cluster writing is best described as a flow chart of words that are associated with one of your ideas. An example of one of mine looks like this: Cluster Writing for journal entries
    To read more about this. I found a great description of it on Richmond Education Writing Center Another good way to help you cluster write is through Google Wonder Wheel. It is very cool and will help you keep your ideas flowing!
  4. List writing. Make a list of to-dos in your journal. Or make a list of things that you want to see.
  5. Imaginary Dialogue. Create an imaginary dialogue that you are having with someone that you have just met. This is very fun. I like writing about two strangers conversation. My husband and I do this quite a bit when we are in public. We try to figure out what others are saying or what they are doing.
  6. Completing open-ended sentences. I like to use one of my days when I do not know what to write and create a list of open-ended sentences that I wish to complete later.
    • I wonder how…
    • I just learned…
    • I stumbled upon….
    • I would love to learn to …
    • What would Barbara Bush do if … (This is a fun one!)
  7. Learn to reflect, participate and listen.
    • When you are riding in your car or watching television, reflect on your day to help find ideas.
    • Participate in conversations around you or online via forums or social site such as Facebook or Twitter. Many ideas are out there you just need to find the inspiration.
    • Listen to conversations around you that you hear.  Carefully ease-drop on conversations in a restaurant or on a bus. It is also fun to imagine the conversation of one talking on their cell phones when you only hear the one-sided communication.
  8. Make a “Life” checklist. Make a list of words that are important to you and your quality of life. Feed off this list when you are having trouble thinking of ideas. I have a list of 36 things. Here are a couple things on my list: Food, Love, Children, Art, Photography and Learning. When I have ran out of ideas, I open my list of words and create new ideas. For example: think “Food.” Here are some new ideas just around “Food.”
  • My favorite meal to make is…
  • My favorite meal to eat is…
  • I learned today how to properly grow tomatoes in my garden …
  • I found a new website to help me save money on my groceries …

The ideas are completely endless.

Also follow Internet news sites. There are numerous topics that will raise your emotions or curiosity. Write about those. There is also several sites like that has list of topics that may spark an idea in your head. Check them out.
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