Share Post

Journaling to Beat Writer’s Block

All writers face the dreaded blank page. This article provides several ways to beat writer's block especially by using a journal.

Front Page

Hey Writer! Do you sometimes find yourself sitting in front of your computer staring at the blank page?

If you have, it’s okay.

Every writer has been there. Trying to write but the words just will not come.

You may even have gotten a good start on your project or book but then the words just seem to dry up.

You, my friend, are not alone.

Beating the Blank Page

While there is no specific timeline around how long writer’s block will last, there are a number of ways to beat it. And they are as individual as the writer.

In a video posted on, Shonda Rhimes, writer, director, and producer, shares her top tips for getting over writer’s block:

    Write in smaller chunks - Break your writing down into small pieces. You can write from the middle, the end, or the beginning. Then check each piece off your list. You will soon see that you have accomplished more than you think you have. 
    Put your writing away - It can help to stop staring at the words for a day or two, then you'll be able to come back with a fresh perspective. Take a walk. Play some music. Meditate. 
    Reread something you've previously written - But pretend you have never read your work before. This serves as concrete proof that you can string words together to form a coherent sentence which leads to a well-written story, paper, or article. 
     Create your own deadline - The idea here is that a looming deadline will force you to focus and get back in your groove. 
     Use a visual - Create a diagram or timeline or some sort of visual to prompt you where to go next with your writing project. A mind map works well here. This process involves writing your topic in the middle of a piece of paper, drawing a circle around it, and capturing every thought and idea on a line extending from the main topic. Because this process can be intense, there is software that you can use for this process.

But there is a lot to be said for writing out your own mind map by hand.

You have most likely heard of one or more of the above ways to conquer writer’s block at one time or another.

But there is one method that is just as good, if not better than, any of the ideas presented above – journaling.

Why Journaling?

When you think of a journal, do you envision the typical diary little girls tend to carry and write all their hopes and dreams in?

This is more of the adult version of that diary and it isn't just for little girls. Any writer can use a journal. And journals that meet every need can be found in any bookstore. (The prettier versions might be attributed to more feminine writers but there are many out there for our male counterparts as well.) Even a spiral-bound notebook will do.

What you're looking for here is a simple way of organizing your thoughts or just getting them out of your head. Maybe you will access and use these thoughts and ideas later. Then again, maybe not.

Benefits of Journaling for Writers

Ms. Rhimes suggested freewriting in her video and the accompanying article. Freewriting is simply grabbing some paper and a writing instrument and just letting thoughts and ideas and words flow.

Julia Cameron, author of the Artist’s Way, espouses the idea of Morning Pages, where you write three long-hand pages typically upon rising and doing a brain dump of all the thoughts that pop into your head as soon as your eyes open.

These are the thoughts that can block you from getting your writing done and have you watching the cursor blink.

Getting everything out of your head before you start your day enables you to move forward with whatever project(s) you have going. It also serves as a vehicle where you can keep track of your musings.

It can certainly help in beating writer's block.  If you have your journal, you can write in those smaller chunks as mentioned above. 

A journal is also portable so you can write anywhere -- while running errands, while waiting on the kids, any time an errant thought hits you and you need to capture it or lose it.


There are many ways to beat writer's block:

  • Breaking down a project into smaller chunks,
  • Putting your writing away for a time (don't forget to come back to it!),
  • Reading what you've written as if you've never read it before,
  • Creating a mind map.

Journaling is a viable way to get past the blank page and you'll find yourself with a place to carry around all your thoughts and ideas as well.

Journal by Hand or by Computer

In her blog, the Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron has this to say about writing by hand versus doing morning pages (journaling) on your computer or another device:

“When we write by hand, we connect to ourselves. We may get speed and distance when we type, but we get a truer connection--to ourselves and our deepest thoughts-- when we actually put pen to page.”

I take her advice to heart and write longhand in my journal.

Bottom line: It doesn't matter how or where you write as long as you get the writing done. But having an alternative way to help ease the frustration of the blank page is always helpful. That is where your journal comes into play. 


Below is a list of resources for a few of my favorite tools that I use in my journaling practice.

    Journal – Any bound book will do for your journaling. I use this journal from Amazon – Amazon Basics Classic Lined Notebook. This journal has 240 lined pages. In all transparency, when I’m not feeling fancy, I will grab any notebook that catches my fancy at my local Walmart or discount store. 
     Pen – Again, any pen that feels good in your hand works. What you're looking for is comfort and grip (how the pen feels in your hand depending on how you hold your pen). I happen to have a love affair with fountain pens and use this one – Faber-Castell Grip Pearl Fountain Pen. I also use a fine or micro point ZBrands Roller Ball Pen. I spend a little money on my writing utensils, but that is not a requirement. Oftentimes I will grab a plain old standby – the pencil. 
     Page Flags – If you’re like me and write everything in one journal then you may need these page flags in order to mark your important notes, thoughts, and ideas. 
    Morning Pages – The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron as mentioned above. You can also find the companion journal here.