Failed at Journaling? Steal These Three Alternative Techniques To Start Right Now

Failed at Journaling? Steal These Three Alternative Techniques To Start Right Now

Against all instinct, I decided to give it a try.

That evening, I sat down to give journaling a go.New pen, nice moleskin book.

Three minutes passed. Five minutes.

No earth-shattering, inspirational or profound thoughts came to mind.

Nothing that I felt gratitude for beyond the satisfaction that I exist.

Sigh! There it was again, one more dead start.

If you give me an unfamiliar topic and ask me to write, I might be able to pen down random factoids for a bit.

For about 7 minutes to begin and if forced for 10 minutes, perhaps.

With a familiar topic, I’d be able to go on for longer.

But ask me to journal about my day or talk about gratitude, I don’t think I can write much. It’s not that I am ungrateful, but I am not thanking the moon, my parents and my dog every other day.

What is that journaling magic they speak of? It eludes me.

Well, never mind. It was time to find out what worked for me instead.

Keep a health diary (a bonus if you are trying to get fitter).

I had a health scare last year. It kept me from some of my favourite activities.

After that, I wanted to be focused and mindful of what my body was telling me rather than sweep it under the carpet. I wanted to remember how I was feeling day to day. I began keeping a health diary.

Starting with details of what exercise I finished that day, I recorded the type of exercise – lifting, walking or swimming. To it, I added the reps and sets. Or distance and time if it was a walk or a swim. The idea was to keep it simple so that it was a bore to do. The diary had all the essentials, no fancy metrics.

With time, my diet records were added to it. Again, a simple note format to say what I ate and at what time. No calories or grams counts.

I had kept a straightforward diet of Indian bread, salad, curds, and rice. The veggies to go with the bread changed each day.

I noted any changes – if I had a drink or two or dined at the restaurant.  

I added notes on how it felt the next day. It helped me watch how my body reacted when my diet changed.

The diary is not a substitute taskmaster to discourage me from overeating or having junk.

It is merely my conscience keeper.

Maybe this journaling will lead to something, or maybe not, but I will at least have baseline data to refer to. It’ll steer me towards the proper food habits or be a good starting point for future health situations. My physician would love to see it and know what’s going on.

Write a letter about your day to a friend

I love writing, but a blank page bites every writer in the back. And it affects us all with some regularity.

I wanted to develop a writing and ideation habit, but journaling wasn’t working. Google referred to an article that gave me a new idea about recording my day.

Why not write a letter to a friend, telling him about my day? I imagined him sitting across the couch, a cup of coffee in hand, listening as I painted a picture.

I realised this exercise has immense side benefits.

Trying to represent my day visually challenges me to paint with words. (Show, don’t tell). It forces my imagination to twist and turn, shaping my narration.

There is no blank page and no wait between writing points to appear.  Also, I am eager to regale him with fascinating bits of my day, which makes my letter insightful in many ways.

To be clear, it is not a diary. It is a book of insights, ideas and iterations that I use to connect the dots in my life.

My writing habit is consistent, and it has improved the taste and presentation of my writing.

Don’t use this letter as a place to vent. Use it for personal transformation.

Use The Most Dangerous Writing App

The Most Dangerous Writing App?

Now, what new-fangled thing is this?, I thought when someone in my writer’s cohort mentioned it.

I had to check it out right away.

The app is a writing enforcer for those who need motivation to write.

You can set how long you want to write for or determine how many words you want to get out in that session. It will also supply a prompt if you ask or use your own.

As soon as you stop typing, the words you’ve already written start disappearing. It’s cruel that way, forcing you to keep typing, even if type nonsense.

One of the best things about the app is the variety of prompts it offers to get your juices flowing. You don’t have to flounder and wait for inspiration to strike.

If you are stuck and want to warm up for some heavy stuff later, go for it.


I have just started making voice notes as I walk or hike. It’s a trick I learned from a classmate in the same writer’s cohort. As they say, ideas can strike you at any time.

I listen to myself and write down my notes in words in my idea notebook (formerly my non-starter journal). This practice helps me acknowledge my walking thoughts and link them to the topics I am working on.

And it frees up my phone storage.


I must’ve tried journaling for six long months before realising that it does not work for everyone. I was plodding on miserably instead of actively looking for ways to arrive at equally insightful results.

If you are a fellow sufferer, give three techniques and the bonus a try.

Even if one of them works out, it’ll liberate you from the pressing need to begin a journal ever again.

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