Have any tips or inspirations for the days when nothing happens that’s worthy of writing about?
A NaJoWriMo participant recently asked this important question because it’s one that all journal writers, and writers in general, ask when we can’t think of something writing about.
First off there’s no reason why you must write in your journal everyday, but if you’re trying to build or maintain a journal writing habit (or writing to complete NaJoWriMo!), there will be times when you want to write, but you think there’s nothing useful to write about. Secondly, don’t think that every journal entry you write must be deep and reflective. Lower your standards for journal writing. Sometimes journal entries will be mundane, similar to the tweets people post on Twitter about what they had for lunch, or letting their followers know they’re headed off to bed. Remember, when it comes to journal writing, you’re not writing to inspire others or to get a job, you’re simply wanting to build a habit of daily writing by documenting and sometimes reflecting on your life, and life around you.
I’ve completed a few month-long journal writing challenges, and for 12 months straight I wrote in my Day One journal everyday. Many of those journal entries are based on the suggested ideas I list below.
As you become more experienced as a journal writer, you’ll discover what works best for you when you desire something to write about but your mind keeps drawing a blank.
Hope you find a few of these suggestions useful.
Write a Simple List
Write a list of things you need to get done. A list of names and places you’ve visited. A list of ideas for a project you’re working on. A list of books or movies you’ve read or seen, or plan to consume. A list of things that are going well in your life. A list of food and drinks you consumed for the current day. A list of things you got done for the day.
Start an entry with, “It’s a pretty slow, dreary day….” and keep writing from there. If the writing ends up being boring, no problem. You’ve completed an entry, and you can move on from there. But sometimes starting to write about how boring things are will take you down a road where you discover thoughts or ideas that didn’t come to mind until after you started writing.
Write your reactions to something you read, or seen on television. Write your opinion about social issue or problem you’re concerned about.
React to Social Media
React to something you read on Twitter or Facebook. Or head over to Quora.com and respond to a question posted there. You don’t have to post your responses publicly. You can choose to keep your answer in your journal.
Dip into a published journal or diary for inspiration. Brainpickings.org published an article about famous journal writers, including Anaïs Nin, Anne Frank, Sylvia Plath, Henry David Thoreau. A few contemporary published writers include Pearl Cleage, the fictional Bridget Jones’s Diary, and The Sex Diaries Project: What We’re Saying about What We’re Doing, by Arianne Cohen
Write a Letter
Write a real or imaginary letter to someone. If it’s an un-sent letter, write exactly what’s on your mind.
Describe the Weather
Simply describe the current weather, and how it’s impacting your day.
Write about the current project you’re working on. Reflect on your progress, and what you need to get done. Project journal entries are very useful. I’ll be writing more about the concept in an upcoming blog post.
Try writing some flash fiction. A short little fictional scene or description written in a few paragraphs.
The above are some of the fallback journal activities that I use. Please share some of your own, as well as point out and elaborate on how use one or more the suggestions listed above.