For this month's write. Saturday, instead of a list of journaling topics, we're going to look at a list of journaling structures. You know that feeling when you sit down to journal, and you feel like you know what to write but not how to write it? Journaling structures help you overcome that feeling because they give you a way to shape what you write, no matter the topic. Think of them as the journaling equivalent of sketches.
Use a Turn
To understand this structure, first read the journaling on Marie's gallery layout. She starts by writing about the frustrating struggles of having small children, but by the end she's writing about the sweet joys of it. The turn comes with the sentence "Well, sometimes I forget, so I need to take time."
When you use a turn in your journaling, you start writing about your topic using one angle or tone. You write your way toward the turn—the sentence that changes the angle or tone. And then you write in a different tone or angle. You can use this structure for a myriad of topics, anything that causes you to simultaneously feel two different things, maybe a day that started out rough but ended well or an experience that brought you two separate understandings. You can start out funny and turn tender, start sarcastic and turn warm, begin with sadness and turn to joy.
It's a flexible structure!
Here's another example:
In the journaling for this layout, I started out by writing about the things I still sometimes wish I'd done differently. The turn comes in the little things my youngest does to remind me that reality is better than wishes, and then I finish by writing about what I am grateful for.
(Full disclosure: I sort of had to butcher the quote I used for the title because it wouldn't have fit otherwise. The real quote goes like this: "While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about." ~Angela Schwindt)
Use the Numbers
In her gallery layout, Keshet used numbers to organize her journaling. Try thinking about your topic by way of the count of things involved. Keshet's layout focuses on the numbers that relate to her one (so sweet!) baby, such as 14 days waiting for her test results and 11 hours of labor, but you can use this structure for countless topics. For example: think about the numbers that might relate to the first day of school. Two new binders, eight notebooks, one box of twenty pencils, seven pens, five trips to the mall for back-to-school shopping. You could use it on holiday layouts—fifteen people at your Mother's Day celebration, three cakes, four pasta salads, and one amazing mother. Physical traits, vacations, birthday parties: nearly everything imaginable has some sort of number involved.
Marnie made a layout using this journaling structure:
She details the numbers that go into an everyday sort of day with her daughter Lavender. I love the little details of the fancy shoes and the sippy cup because they add a sense of immediacy to the layout. In just a couple of years those little numbers will have vanished!
In my layout:
I used numbers to organize the details about my son Jake's orthodontics experience. I included the obvious numbers but also the unique ones (like the three times I thought his appointment was on a Tuesday morning but really it was a Wednesday). Writing journaling like this brings the little details to your memory in surprising ways.
Use Demonstrative Adjectives
When I read the journaling on Lisa K's layout I felt like swooning I loved it so much! She uses demonstrative adjectives to quickly and succinctly get right to the emotional point of the entire layout: the people who make her life beautiful. As succinctness is hardly my journaling strength, I knew I wanted to try this structure. It works well with photos that are particularly emotionally evocative but don't have a detailed story and with times when you want to relay the importance of a relationship, experience, or event.
Demonstrative adjectives are the four following words: this, that, these, and those. To use the structure, look at your photos and consider which specific objects contribute to their emotional feel, and then pair those objects with the demonstrative adjectives. Next, pick one overarching object and use that for your title.
Diane shows us exactly how to do it:
I took a stab at the structure, too:
My objects are beach, waves, and girls, and I used afternoon as the title object. I added an extra adjective to each object, but I think the emotional impact is still powerful.