The Blank Journal Page: Start With the Date

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Seasons of Journaling

I have found that my journal-keeping runs in seasons. There are seasons when I need to spill page upon page of freewriting, clearing out emotions and working through fears, like the “daily pages” of The Artist’s Way. And there are other (more frequent) periods when my journaling is a quieter, slower process, full of dreams and drafts and new creative ideas. In the quiet phases, I often need a way to get started, to crack the blank page and shift my mind into reflective mode. One of the ways I’ve used—left over from my school days, I’m sure—is to write the date, slowly and with attention.



Enjoy the Letters

Pick some way to make the letters interesting. Write in cursive, then darken in the downstrokes. Or widen the ends of lines, or the bottom of letters. The key is to write slowly and be “in the moment.”


Vary the Format

Try numerical format, writing the month first, writing the day first…anything. Try odd shapes, and decorating with simple patterns.


Make Boxes

If you need a little more time, try making boxes or other shapes “behind” the letters, and filling them with patterns or doodles.


Draw Around the Date

Nothing too fancy, just sketch something you see or try the kind of “seasonal” doodles I remember from my school notes—holly, pumpkins, anything simple.


Use Place-names, Too

There are times when the place—being at the dentist’s office, for instance—is more important than the date itself. And there are times when you are on vacation (“Refugio”) and can celebrate not knowing the date.

Ease into “Thinking on the Page”

I certainly don’t use this approach all the time. My journals are also full of quickly scrawled dates, and some are barely legible. But it’s one way I’ve found to slow down and ease into “thinking on the page.”

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