Need a break from all the introspection and self-analyzing journaling prompts?
Many avid journalers and journal coaches (including myself) are happy to inculcate the therapeutic benefits of journaling. It’s true that journaling is among the most powerful tools for looking deep within, identifying buried dreams, and challenging your assumptions. But constantly examining one’s self, fishing for new insights, or trying on new perspectives can get exhausting.
Sometimes it feels good just to play in your journal, and not have any particular outcome in mind. It’s important to declare a break from the heavy therapy and just write from whimsy and imagination. In fact, an entire movement called “Wreck This Journal” was started from this very premise.
Reasons for “Journal Play”
- Our creativity gets stimulated. Our genius of imagination comes alive when we try new things just for the sake of it.
- We learn by playing. Just as children, when we learned important social skills and the laws of nature through games and play-time, we can still learn about ourselves and the world by having fun and being silly.
- Discover new talents and interests by following your curiosity. Who knows what new passions you might uncover?! What hidden strengths you might discover?!
- Open new patterns of thought. Playing in your journal, like waking a less-used section of your brain, can provide new troubleshooting techniques, even reveal new solutions to old problems.
Examples of “Journal Play”
- Write with your non-dominant hand.
- Write from bottom of the page to the top.
- Use different colors, or pencils, or crayons.
- Use pictures, or cut-outs from a magazine (collage).
- Write in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS, or write very large, or very small.
- Don’t keep within the lines.
- Write in poem. (You can show ’em!)
- Focus first on favorite letters, choose a few each entry.
- Write in a different location than usual. It’s amazing what insights can come from the laundry room, or the dining room floor.
- Write down your dreams.
- Write about your day from your dog’s point of view.
- Write yourself a letter, or write someone else a letter.
- Write your future self a letter (1, 5, or 10 years from now)
- Write a completely made-up story about how your day went.
- Write a completely made-up story that sounds like a real journal entry from your life.
- Write a movie review.
- Write from the back of the book to the front.
- Use only the top half of the page. Weeks or months later, come back and write a separate entry using the bottom half of the page to review and remark on what you wrote above.
- Write on random pages of your journal (instead of sequential).
- Write essentially the same journal entry every day for a week, using some different “voice” or attitude, or interpretation of the facts.
- Write in the dark, or with your eyes closed.
- Write any way that you want to, just DON’T NOT WRITE!
Nathan Ohren is Director of Client Services for a worldwide software company in Santa Barbara, CA. He has been keeping a personal journal for over 27 years, and enjoys coaching people and facilitating groups for creativity and effective life management. Nathan is the founder of www.Write4Life.us, a resource for “passion, clarity, and purpose through journaling.”