Journaling with Words and Images: Doodles and Lists

The act of journaling, of personal writing, your hand holding the pen, flowing across the lines, letting the words flow out of you onto the paper, filling the page with your thoughts and hopes and worries and dreams… It’s a beautiful image, isn’t it?

But sometimes, the words don’t come and the page stays blank.
Sometimes you need to mix it up and try something a little different.

 How to Doodle

Natural doodlers may find these suggestions quite silly, but those of us who don’t spontaneously ornament the edges of our papers might need some prompting. You can start small by outlining or decorating certain words to give them more emphasis in your journal. Put pen on paper and start moving it, and don’t pick it up. Try doodling a design you like, decorating letters you enjoy, just move the pen around on the paper and see what happens. Doodling isn’t sketching, you don’t have to draw something you see. To start, doodle your initial. Doodle around a word like Love or Peace or Mad or Sad. Doodle a design that fills an entire page—start with a paper scrap if that seems less intimidating! When you are stuck on what to write in your journal, keep the pen moving with a doodle until the words come back to you.

 How to Make a List

If you are trying to challenge yourself, you might make a numbered list and try to make a certain number of entries on your list, like “100 words to describe who I am right now” or “25 ways I can enjoy this fall.” If your list is an action list like  “Improvements I want to make in my life” or “Books I want to read” you might doodle small boxes next to each item so that you can come back and check off what you have completed. Some lists are much more open-ended, and designed to help you expand your understanding of yourself and the world around you, like “I am at my best when…” or “Things I don’t understand…” And all lists may (or may not) lead into longer journal entries, prompted by the items that appear on your lists.

Brainstorming exercise:

Make a lists of lists. Write down as many different ideas for future lists for you, or someone else, to make in their journal. And, if you are in a writing group, share some ideas for new lists with the group so that everyone can add to their own lists for the future!

Download the 1 page handout “Journaling with words and images: Doodles and lists” (1 page PDF)

Download the 2 page handout “lists to make” and cut the lists apart before you start listing (2 page PDF)

Download the 1 page handout “doodles about” and cut the four sections apart before you start doodling (1 page PDF)

Our monthly journaling workshop offers ideas and encouragement for people pursuing personal writing with words and images. The workshop meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 10:00 am at the library. Everyone is welcome to attend and participate. Find upcoming topics announced on the library calendar or here.

Lissa Staley

Lissa Staley helps people use the library. She is a Book Evangelist, Health Information Librarian, Arts & Crafts Librarian, Trivia Emcee, Classics Made Modern book group leader, and frequent library customer, especially with her children. She reads a new book every few days, but recently loved Adorkable by Sarra Manning, Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman and Tin Star by Cecil Castellucchi.