When I Want to Journal But Don’t Know How to Start

My Gadanke journal was in front of me at the table. Dinner was baking in the oven, and I sat there, knowing exactly what I wanted to write about, but not knowing how I could say it.

Do you ever have that problem?

I think that’s when we have the tendency to start journaling in a sad or frustrated way. We aren’t necessarily upset about the experience, but we’re distressed by how to tell it.

The experience I wanted to capture wasn’t sad. It was far from frustrating. In fact, it was really, really awesome. I still can’t believe it happened.

Rather than letting myself slip into ANY sort of unintentionally sad journaling, I grabbed the manilla envelope that comes in the home journal and started to goof around.

To make this page: brown and red pens, black marker, brown ink (smudged on the edges and lightly across everything), red ink with heart stamps, and a “Love Where We Live” home journal.

The exercise worked! I knew exactly what I wanted to capture by the time I was done.

But guess what?

That envelope didn’t express what I wanted to say AT ALL. Sure, it certainly said “tire house“, which is where we were for my story. But I wasn’t happy with the look of my envelope. It expressed location; I wanted to express the people… especially the most important character: our 19-month-old niece who wears pink and will pick up a comb to “brush” her hair if you leave it in her reach.

Browns and woody vibe? NOT her.

I turned the page. I tried again.

This time, I used a white mini envelope that comes in many of the journals.

To make this page: black marker, red ink with heart stamps, date stamp, and a “Love Where We Live” home journal. (The home journal actually has blue and green mini envelopes, but my “extras” have gotten all mixed up in my drawer of journal supplies.)

You see, rather than focus on getting down the perfect words when I didn’t know what to say, I tried using art. As I worked, reflected on the experience more. It made the storytelling develop in my mind.

My journaling is a paragraph to set the scene, then an email I sent our family about the visit. I printed the entry on pink paper with narrow margins, trimmed off the excess, and tucked it in the envelope.

Maybe I’ll use that first envelope for something else one day. Maybe not. It doesn’t really bother me. You know what?

  1. It’s okay to start over.
  2. Emails make awesome journal entries.
  3. Nieces are the coolest people ever.