4 Ways To Overcome Mental Blocks In Journaling

Aug 06, 2022

4 ways to overcome mental blocks in journaling

(Photo by Pixabay)

If you're starting out journaling, there can be some pitfalls you may encounter. If you hit these, know that you're not alone. Here are some of the common obstacles and some ways to overcome them: 

The "sacred" page or book

You've just bought a journal or notebook and you love it. It's so pristine and beautiful. The cover is so new and fresh and the paper feels so nice. For some reason, it can start to feel like the beauty of the book is more important than your thoughts. Like you might ruin it if you start using it. Or you write something and you don't think it's "good enough" to be in this nice, new book. So what can you do about this? 

That comes down to your style, but it can be a fun process. You can ruin the first few pages just to make a point. Tear out pages you don't like. Scribble all over the first page and then move on. Whatever works for you. Sometimes if you're worried about messing something up, messing it up a little on purpose makes it your choice. It's personalization that you can take ownership over.

Bottom line: Your writing doesn't have to be perfect, your ink can smear, you can scribble out mistakes, and pages can tear. Your thoughts and feelings are more important than how any book looks. And don't let your brain tell you any different. 

Blank page paralysis

You open your journal, grab your pen, and then... you sit there looking at it. With the blank page staring back at you, where do you even start? Some kind of help would be appreciated!

For this, try focusing on one thing at a time or finding a specific topic that interests you. Like being more grateful, cementing a habit, or working on self care routines. Or by time like the past, present, or future. By choosing one topic, you take away some of the uncertainty about where to start.

You can also look up introspective prompts online (or find our random generator here). This, as most methods, comes down to personal style. Do the same one each day, a new one each day, choose a handful and use what you like, whatever works for you. Move at your own pace and only probe as deeply as you can handle at that time. Don't forget that this is a journal, not an interrogation.

Not enough time in the day

You don't have to write for an hour everyday to make an accurate record of your thoughts and feelings. You can write as little or as much as you'd like. Even something as simple as "Today was good" or "Today was bad" is journaling about your day. You're still thinking about it and reflecting on it, even if you don't have time to get specific.

Try setting up a shorthand way of writing by using codes like colors or symbols. With the shorthand you'll still be able to journal on lower energy days. Or you could write out a few questions with room to write underneath and then copy them. That way you won't have to write them everyday and you'll save some time.

Life changes quickly. Take into account that the time you have today might not be the time you have tomorrow. Set up your journal to be flexible and make sure to be patient with yourself.

Ruminating or dwelling

This is less likely, but worth mentioning. If you struggle with any number of hardships, it can take a concerted effort not to ruminate. This is the tendency to obsess over negative stimuli. Such as a bad relationship, annoyances, negative self-talk, anxieties, any many more. 

You can use a method of realism and optimism to overcome it. This is where you use one side of your journal to write about the situation and really break it down. The other page is used for things like finding opportunities for personal growth. Things you were grateful for, opportunities to learn, boundaries to set, etc. 

You can also try a more structured form of journaling if freeform is hard for you. Like we said above, use daily prompts to put some rails up for yourself. This should help to keep you positive while still taking things for what they are. Positivity isn't ignoring the bad stuff. It's just not letting yourself be consumed by it.

Find what fits you

If you hit any of these roadblocks on your journey, keep trying. Over time you'll find what works best for you. Be nice to yourself when you slip up, be proud of yourself when you try. Let yourself know that you're worth the time, effort, and space.

This is all about fitting a journal into your life. And what you would like to gain from writing about yourself and your life.

Continue Your Journey