Preparing for NaJoWriMo: Prompts, Pinspirations and Practice

There’s just a few more days to go before the October edition of NaJoWriMo begins, how are you preparing for it?

Preparing for National Journal Writing Month by Scribbles and Stationery

Earlier in the year when I participated, journaling was all new to me and as with all new things, it was fairly easy to find subjects or even non-subjects to journal about on a daily basis. But once I got deeper into it, journaling about the day’s food intake or my resolutions for the year got rather mundane, and I looked around for other kinds of inspirations to help me keep up my journaling.

Over the months, I have built up a small pool of resources. It isn’t a lot, but I’m sharing them here in the hopes that they might also help you along your journaling journey.

More daily journalling - I took some inspiration from the various Hobonichi Techo videos

Two quick caveats though, I journal by hand,in a book on a page. If you journal electronically, the content below might not work for me.

Second, I’m not an emotional journaler, To me, personally, journaling doesn’t have to be about innermost thoughts or an emo rollercoaster ride. It works for a lot of people, but that way of journaling stresses me out even more than I already am.

I do not write pages upon pages of my innermost thoughts. Blame it on my Asian-Chinese stoic-ness (yes the majority of us are like that hah). Once in a while, I might get into a funk and cover a couple of pages with my negative train of thought. It makes me feel a bit better doing that, but again I don’t find anything particularly healing about the practice.

Many of you will probably find (through what I post here) that my journal is fairly superficial and more about things and happenings rather than emotions, so I apologize in advance if that is not your thing.

Enough rambling! Let us proceed.

Prompts

A great source of prompts is the NaJoWriMo website or Twitter. You can also follow the hashtag #NaJoWriMoPrompt. Bakari Chavanu, creator of the NaJoWriMo initiative, posts a prompt a day, during the months when NaJoWriMo happens. The theme for Oct’15 is Unleashing Your Creative Mind Through Journal Writing, and I’m looking forward to the prompts that will come forth (even though I may not follow every single prompt).

If you are just starting out on your journaling journey (like me) or just looking for something different, check out this post on The Art Of Manliness: Jumpstart Your Journaling: A 31-Day Challenge. It has a list of 31 prompts and descriptions of how to go about your journaling. Some of them are more applicable to men, but hey, we women are creative, so give it a little twist and write from your own point of view. Many of the prompts are quite new to me, not something that has been re-hashed over and over again, so it provides a fresh look into journaling. For example, I like Day 17 – Hop on the internet and search for the biggest news stories in the year you were born. Think about how these news stories, or even statistics, may have shaped your childhood or who you are today.

Pinspiration

Daily journalling - I took some inspiration from the various Hobonichi Techo videos

Done to death? Maybe. Yes, every blogger and youtuber out there states Pinterest as their greatest source of inspiration for everything from cooking to care of zebras. But you really can find some gems in there if you look, and more importantly, use your creativity.

Sometimes when I don’t feel like writing about my day, I hop on over to two of my boards: Inspirational and Handwriting Inspires (omg, shameless plug!). I look for a quote that appeals to me that day, it could Coco Chanel, it could be Obama, it could be Confucius. Then I look for some handwriting inspiration, and go ahead to write that quote using a different writing style in my journal page for the day. Mix and match different styles, different sizes and different colours and you would be surprised with what you can come up with.

Handwriting Practice

While on the subject on handwriting, if you have absolutely nothing to journal about, treat your journal pages as handwritng practice.

Most of us now barely write, and if we do, we just scribble to dash off a note or grocery list. I still take handwritten notes during meetings (I’m old school), but even those are very hastily scribbled, which leaves me confused over my own chicken scratchings later on.

When I started out journaling, I could not stop scribbling, and I hated the look of my pages. It was only later on that I learnt to force myself to slow down. My pages look slightly better now than back in January. I can print (quite nicely if I say so myself) but they are nowhere near my handwritten notes back in school, and I’m trying hard to get back to that. I’m also trying hard to learn some amazing cursive handwriting so my pages will look more adult, hah.

20150924-practicing-handwriting by Scribbles and StationerySo pick a handwriting style you like, or are trying to achieve, and write, SLOWLY. Really, SLOWLY is the key. Writing slowly helps you learn the shape of the letters of that style, and ingrains that into your brain, so you can keep the habit even as you start to speed up later on.

You can write anything you want, but I personally find that copying something helps to slow me down, because instead of rushing to get ahead of my thoughts, I have to keep referring back to what I am copying. Grab your favourite book (or a box of corn flakes), flip it open to any page, and start copying down a passage in your favourite handwriting style. Books with lots of unfamiliar words (fantasy novels with weird names like Tassellhoff Burrfoot!) or even foreign language books work great, because your brain and hand can’t work on auto-pilot as with English and all that figuring out a foreign word slows you down.

You can even challenge yourself by doing it consistently for one to two months so you can see how your handwriting improves over time.

Journal Like Someone Famous

Everyone who journals (or not) knows of famous people who kept journals: Anne Frank, Thomas Edison, Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Frida Kahlo, Leonardo Da Vinci. This list could go on forever, and who would not want to share a habit with this list of esteemed authors, inventors, scientists and even entertainers.

Speaking of Da Vinci, I visited the Da Vinci: Shaping The Future exhibition earlier this year when it was in Singapore for the first time. I have always known that Da Vinci kept journals, after all, his journals are no less famous than his inventions or the man himself. But nothing opened my eyes like seeing the folios from his journals right in front of me. The man journaled, wrote, drew and explained everything in his journals. I found his backwards Italian script particularly fascinating.Da Vinci Shaping the Future Exhibition - viewing Da Vinci's journals

My point is, pick a style you admire or like, it’s not a shame to copy, I say. Da Vinci journaled everything about his inventions, his thoughts, his experiments and his paintings. He had a huge range of interests and it showed in his journals. Anne Frank kept a diary of her life during one of the most tumultuous periods of war. You can even adopt Virginia Woolf’s stream of conciousness style, which I find is great for journaling when relaxing at a cafe.

Prepare for Other Projects

I used to write quite a bit back in primary school, but somehow lost that childish enthusiasm along the way. The National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) has always fascinated me because of that faded interest, but I think that I could never live up to imagining plotlines, characters and writing 50,000 words in 30 days. If you are up for it, use the NaJoWriMo month of October to prepare for NaNoWriMo which spans the month of November. There are more tips about how to use NaJoWriMo to prepare to NaNoWriMo, so head over to get started. In face, by just writing this post, it’s starting to spur something me in again, hmmm.

Not a writer? Plan for other projects. If you have a trip coming up for the holiday season, write about where you want to go or what you plan to do.  Plan projects for the upcoming year, such as my #plannernerd post about planners to use in the new year. Write about hobbies you want to take up in 2016, and what you anticipate the journey will be like.

So get on it! Start your journaling journey, or challenge yourself with the tips above to change or up your journaling style. If you care to share your journals with me, or if you want to do NaJoWriMo together, leave a comment or tweet me @scribsnstat

Preparing for National Journal Writing Month by Scribbles and Stationery

Image by: Picjumbo

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