Blog Schedule

I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

On Journaling - The 2 1/2 Minute Sprint

I know there are many of you who journal daily, who are faithful to it, and who love it. There may be some of you who can't live without it. For those of you who fall into this category, I'm not talking to you. Though if you read on you might get something new and/or interesting to do.

I'm talking to those of you who are like me, who wonder as to the point of journaling, who have an inner editor who criticises, or a saboteur who whispers sour nothings in your ear, or a rotten little kid who makes excuses to do ANYthing else. If you identify with any of these anti-journaling characters, help is on the way.

The first step is to write. But what about time? You see I'm not "there" yet. I don't have the Zen of journaling down. I am a novice and still learning. However I can give myself 2 1/2 minutes. Everyone can write for 2 1/2 minutes, can't they? 2 1/2 minutes just isn't that long.

Okay so you've got your pen or pencil and paper ready and your mind goes blank. What the heck are you supposed to write about?

Prompt #1 -

Open a book at random and at random pick 5 or 6 words. Nouns and verbs are best but adjectives will work too. Or just pull 5 or 6 random words out of your own head. Now write for a big huge 2 1/2 minutes incorporating those words. The object is not to think, or "worry" about what you write; like whether it makes sense or not. None of that matters. What matters is that without taking pen (or pencil) off the page you write without stopping for 2 1/2 minutes. Over time that 2 1/2 minutes may well expand to 5, 10, 15 minutes without your even realizing it. At least, that's what I've been told, and that's what I'm aiming for.

Here are 5 words I pulled out of my head: January, cold, spring, yesterday, flowers.

Here's what I wrote:

The cold of January speaks to the ache in my bones. I am out of Yesterdays. Spring is as far away as Antarctica. And flowers? I have forgotten what they look like, how they smell.

Here are some other quick prompts to get you started.

Prompt #2

Open a favorite novel or book of poetry at random and pick a line, any line. Use that line as the start of your first sentence. Just continue the sentence and write down whatever comes up...for 2 1/2 minutes.

Prompt #3

Begin by writing, "I remember..." and go on from there. The memory can be from 5 minutes ago, from last year or from your childhood. It can be serious, doesn't matter. And remember you only have to write for 2 1/2 minutes. (However if you write longer that's OK!)

So who wants to play with me? Let's try 5 random words. Use mine or pick your own.

Absolute, generation, fixed, wonderful, faith

There is absolutely nothing fixed. A paradox. It is like having faith in future generations. Look at what the past future generations have done? Isn't it wonderful?

Most importantly, remember to have fun!


  1. I used to keep journals but I'd always lose them. Whenever I'd finish one, I'd store it away in some safe, secret place, then ultimately forget where I put it. I bet somebody--hi mom!--had a fun time reading them.

    Anyway, I like your exercises. I'll try your five-worder. Maybe I'll even start a new journal. I should probably do it on my computer I don't lose it watch, my computer will crash. :-)

  2. We did these kinds of exercises yesterday at the SCBWI conference here in Portland.

    Great way to get the creative juices flowing.

  3. I do journaling exercises with my ninth graders all the time, in large part because their favorite four words are, "I don't get it" when given an assignment. Journaling (especially timed journaling) gets them used to just getting stuff down on paper, to realize that (at first, anyway) there's no right or wrong when dealing with your own writing. Your prompts are great : )

  4. Those ARE great prompts. I love writing exercises, sigh... My problem isn't not being able to write, it's not being able to focus on ONE thing at a time. (Got any tips for that?)

    Off for some more procrastinating...

  5. I am going to try this -- and I am going to try it in my writing class to see what they come up with. I think they would love this.

    I have Mary's problem, too. I work on several pieces at the same time and take an eternity to finish. I have heard that journaling on "mini topics" DOES help with focus. Maybe I'll give it a shot.

    Thanks for this prompt!

  6. These sound like great exercises to try. My daughter used to keep a journal, but I don't know if she's kept up with it or not. It's not something I ever did much of when I was younger. Good luck with your journaling, Bish.

  7. J. L. The five-worder can be great fun. It's also a way of trying to write a story in three sentences (short ones mind you!)

    Thanks KLo!

    Anne, I'm honored you're going to try this in your writing class! I'm reading your book. Just got started, put to page 54. Very good!

    I didn't journal much as kid either Rena. I have to remember it's not a chore, but something to enjoy.

  8. I'll try some of these - the five worder sounds fun.

    I've never been able to stick to journal writing. I'm like you - I think it's something I SHOULD be doing, so it starts to feel like a chore.

  9. Did I comment on this? I thought I did, but maybe I didn't. Ignore this if I did before. I'm such a mental mess these days.

    I luv journal writing, but life has gotten in the way lately. I have mulitple journals for all kinds of things ~sigh~ This makes me want to pick up one of them and just write away!!!!

  10. Adrienne, I do know what you mean about journaling seeming like a chore. But it's really about helping to keep the writing gears well oiled so they don't get rusty.

    Christy, You go girl. It might be a good time to pick it up again.


Your Random Thoughts are most welcome!