I’m not sure what I’m supposed to write… I don’t have anything to write. Nothing happened… What am I supposed to do?
How you approach your journal affects your practice.
Your journal is a place for a process, it is not a project.
What do you mean by “how I approach the journal?“
Your mindset. Take a moment to think about the expectations you have. Do you feel your journal should be filled with significant events with each entry? Do you feel each entry should fill the page? Do you think you need to have something to write every day? Do you feel your pages need to be decorated? Do you worry about grammar or diction?
When you approach your journal with expectations you create boundaries. The more boundaries you create, the more difficult it is to have an explorative, authentic, and impactful writing session.
So how should I approach journaling? How do I break those boundaries?
You should approach journaling as a practice. This means your mindset toward journaling acknowledges and respects journaling as the process itself rather than the finished product. It means your goal isn’t to have entries within the boundaries of your expectations but instead, it is to be open to any experiences you have. The attitude you want to approach your journaling with is:
“Let’s see what’s going to happen”.
“Let’s see if I’ll discover something”.
“This will be useful in the future”.
It’s difficult to accept your mind as it is… We tend to operate under an unspoken standard that our journal entries must be profound. When it comes to writing, we’ve gotten used to being very careful and disciplined about how we express ourselves —including grammar and diction.
Understand that your journal is your place to think, write, and express without borders.
You break those boundaries through practicing being comfortable with your unique style of expression.
That will happen naturally as you continue to keep journaling and reading your entries. You will show yourself the value of authentic writing. A bit of your identity reveals itself in your idiosyncrasies, so choose to embrace them. You will connect with a past version of yourself if you can hear your voice when you go back and read your journal. You will empathize with yourself, be proud of yourself, and yes…. you’ll even cringe sometimes. All in all, you will see the difference between expression within bounds and expression that’s been allowed to flow. The issue of breaking the boundary will take care of itself.
How can I express myself more in my journal?
You need to be honest and you need to trust yourself. You need to trust that the words you chose to put down on that page are the perfect words for expressing yourself:
- Practice writing in the same way you speak.
- You may feel more expressive if you do some audio journaling instead.
- Record your thoughts onto the paper as they come.
- Remember, you are writing to your future self.
- Read your old entries. See what stands out to you? Do you feel anything is missing?
Expressing yourself authentically on paper will come naturally. I promise.
What if I have nothing to write?
You always have something to write, that’s not the issue. The issue is that something may not be what you consider to be “worth” writing. This happens when you’re approaching your journal within a boundary that says “you can’t write about it if it’s not eventful”.
First, I want you to know that you really don’t have to write every day. If you are sitting there in front of the page feeling frustrated, I’m not sure that forcing yourself to write is going to do you any good… I don’t want you to force-feed the journal… So, It’s okay to close the journal and come back another day.
Try writing a “journal summary” about what you’ve been up to and how things have been. Basically, write down the same things you’d say if you ran into an old friend after not seeing them for a while… A sort of “journal small-talk” if you will…
Writing in this way sends you on a trip through your memories and along the way, you might run into some things you’ve forgotten about.
Alternatively, if you can’t write about the past or present, write about the future. What are you looking forward to? What are you anxious about? What are your plans?
Again, the issue is that something may not be what you consider to be “worth” writing.
The truth is, everything about your life has value. Unfortunately, this blog post won’t get you to see that. That is a perspective that you have to construct for yourself. No amount of googling about journaling is going to make you appreciate your life enough to be inspired to write. Although, you can start gratitude journaling to help expand your perspective on what you feel is worth writing. Challenge yourself to appreciate the more “insignificant” aspects of your life. Do you have a car? Appreciate what that does for you. How are you reading this post? Appreciate what technology you can access and what that does for you. Appreciate yourself for journaling and doing internal work. Appreciate your friends. Appreciate your body, your goals, and your accomplishments. Again, I can’t change your perspective for you but I can promise that making time in your life to give acknowledgment will build up your sense of gratitude and you will feel you have more that’s worth writing.
You can also take having nothing to write as your sign that it’s time to go out and do more:
- You don’t have to go out of town or go to any concerts, but gather your friends for a movie night, dinner, or watch your favorite show together.
- Pick up a hobby you dropped even if you only engage with it for a little while.
- Give your family members a call and joke about old times.
- Cook / go get your favorite meal.
- Visit a place in nature that makes you feel good.
Where there is less, you have an opportunity to create more.
Happy Journaling ❤️