Journaling Approaches

There are many ways to fill a journal. Some of the approaches that I encourage are:

Suggesting a subject or providing a prompt (questions and/or thought starters) and specifying a time for the write. When we have a time limit, our brains feel a sense of pressure and Sarah finds they work harder. It also reassures us that journaling doesn’t have to take a lot of time.

Use a sentence or question to help you focus and clarify. A jumping-off place for you to get started.

Character Sketch
This is a description of another person, or of yourself, a part of yourself, or an emotion.

Lists of 100
This is one of Sarah’s favorite journaling methods. By writing fast and making the longest list possible within the allotted time frame, it is amazing how many ideas we can come up with.

This is a written conversation in which you write both parts. You can dialogue with anyone or anything – a person, place, object, body part, event or feeling. Often, when we anticipate a challenging conversation with someone, we can dialogue both parts of the conversation before meeting with the person. This makes one less anxious and helps clarify thinking before opening your mouth.

Unsent letters
With this process, you can write letters to people you’re mad at, intimidated by, shy around or who aren’t available to you – maybe they’ve died, or moved on or haven’t been born yet. You can express your feelings openly since the letter will remain in your journal . . . unsent. You can reverse this technique and write letters to yourself from others, which helps you to understand another’s’ perspective.

You can alter your point of view by writing as if you were someone else, or by propelling yourself back or forward in time.


Sarah Birnbach is a writer and author who shares the transformative power of journaling, providing encouragement and insights to help people on their journey to their “best self” and is the creator of the free 52-Week Best Self Program.

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