Journaling Techniques for Writers with Tina M. Games

Welcome to day four of Tina M. Games’ 6-day NWFCC April Author Showcase tour and learn journaling techniques for writers.

Hi, I'm Tina M. Games, author of Journaling by the Moonlight: A Mother's Path to Self-Discovery.

Many writers will say to me, "I don't know how to begin writing in my journal. Do you have any techniques that are especially helpful to a writer?"

Before we begin the act of writing, of any kind, it's important to understand how we receive and process information. Everyone has a particular learning style, and it holds true even in the journal writing process.

How do you sort through your thoughts? What's the best way for you to work through an idea - from beginning to end?

Are you a visual processor? Or an auditory processor? Do you need to touch and feel things, perhaps engaging in some form of movement in order to work the ideas through your mind and body?

The actual act of journal writing involves both a visual and kinesthetic process. We see the words as we write them. We feel the flow of the pen to paper - or the movement of fingers touching the keyboard. It's also helpful for a kinesthetic processor to go for a run or a walk before writing, to allow the thoughts to move through the body.

For an auditory processor, try speaking your ideas into a recording device. Then take some quiet time to listen to what you said - and honor what's coming to mind as you hear your own voice. You may also consider getting some type of speaking software, where you can speak your ideas into your computer and it documents your thoughts and ideas into words - words that you can play around with, when crafting your piece.

Here are a few journaling techniques that are helpful for capturing and working with the best ideas:

Clustering - Write every idea down on a journal page, putting each one in its own circle. Color each circle with colored pencils based on the emotion that you feel when you read the idea. Notice any circles that have the same color and ponder any ways that you could thread the ideas together. If you don't see a common thread, just sit with the circles for awhile - and see which ones jump out at you. Which ones give you goose bumps when you ponder its possibilities? Take those and write about them. Just ramble until you feel you've gained some clarity - and are feeling pulled toward a particular direction.

List of best ideas - Make a "grocery list" of your ideas and let it be as long as you need it to be. Sit with this list. Does anything jump out at you? If not, number your ideas beginning with the number one. Then randomly pick a number and journal about that idea. If it feels good, go for it. If not, pick another number (for another idea).

Visual journaling - make a collage of images that represent your ideas. Put your collage in a place where you can see it. What jumps out at you? Is there one image that grabs your attention more than the others? Do you see a common thread - perhaps ideas that can be weaved together? If so, journal about it.

What journaling techniques are good for overcoming writer's block? Here are a few:

Mind dump - If you feel yourself stalling, pull out your journal and dump out the mental clutter. Don’t worry about making sense. Just dump it all out onto the page. Then sit with your jumbled thoughts for a few minutes. Read over them a couple of times. What jumps out at you? Ponder it for a moment. Then just write – and see where the words take you!

Writing from quotes - Pick a quote that resonates with you in the moment - and sit with it for a few minutes. What does it mean to you and how can you apply it to your writing? Take some time to ponder and then write.

Dialogue - Have a dialogue with a character, a concept or a thought. You can even have a dialogue with writer's block. Open up your journal and write a script (a dialogue between you and whatever it is that's blocking you in the moment). Begin in your voice by asking, "Why are you in my way?" or "how can I get past you?" - and continue the dialogue until you've reached a resolution.

How can you use journal writing to map out a story, article or book? Here are a few ideas:

Clustering technique (a form of mind mapping) - This is a cluster of circles - with your main idea or your main character being in the center circle and your points or your character traits or your supporting characters being in little circles (drawn out from the main circle via a line). Once you have this mapped out, create an outline and begin to write.

Dialogue technique - In your journal, create a conversation with a character, a topic or an idea. Act as if you're the interviewer and ask lots of questions!

Character sketch - Journal from the point of view from a character in your book - or from your intended reader (what would they want to know about this topic - or what would they want to gain from reading your book or story).

Visual journaling - Make a collage of images that represent your story, article or book. Let it be the focal point for mapping out your storyline or creating your character - or targeting your ideal reader. Allow the images to guide you into the stages of writing your piece.

Thank you for allowing me to connect with you here today! Join me tomorrow as I share 12 tips for maintaining a satisfying journal writing practice.

Follow Day 5 of Ms. Games' tour tomorrow at


Tina Games said…
Thank you for hosting me today, Mayra. What a joy it is for me to share my love of journal writing with other writers! There are so many wonderful techniques that can aid the writing process.

I've enjoyed visiting your blog and exploring all the wonderful books you've created for children. You are truly an inspiration!

~ Tina
Mayra Calvani said…
Thanks for the wonderful tips, Tina! I'm a big fan of journaling too, ever since I read The Artist's Way a few years ago.

Dawn Herring said…
You have such a fantastic multi-dimensional approach to journaling for writers.
I love how you incorporate all the learning styles into different aspects of journaling.
Such a range of creativity and intuition blended in. Love it!

I have chosen your post, Journaling Techniques for Writers with Tina M. Games, for the #JournalChat Pick of the Day for all things journaling on Twitter on 5/20/11. I will post a link on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and my blog, Refresh with Dawn Herring.

My @JournalChat account on Twitter is for all things journaling.

Thanks again for such a fantastic post for journaling for writers!

Be refreshed,
Dawn Herring
JournalWriter Freelance
@JournalChat on Twitter for all things journaling
Tina said…
Thank you for your wonderful comments, Dawn! ~ And thanks for sharing the link!

I'll mention your wonderful blog on all my social media channels (including Journaling Moms on Facebook).

It's always wonderful to connect with a fellow journal writer! :-)

~ Tina