creative journaling


Lie to Your Journal
by Wesley English
Roots Designer Journals

If you’re like me, you journal in order to make sense of the world. I often don’t see the truth about situations, events, people and feelings until I put pen to paper and write out the narrative of my life. Writing allows me to take a bird eye’s view and see the bigger picture.

But some days my journaling leaves me even more confused than before I started the day’s writing. My confused jottings (made worse by my horrible handwriting) stare back at me with a blank expression.

They’re tragic days most all of us face at some point, sometimes for weeks at a time. But I don’t think we have to give up when we get stuck in this rut. I think we still can write, but just not the truth. I think we should lie to our journal.

What I mean by “lie,” is to write fiction. “Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures,” poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said. Fiction allows writers to explore a problem without the cumbersome limits of reality.

For instance, in a few months I will graduate from college. I have to decide on a career and a place to live. I feel confused and scared. How am I supposed to, with my few years of experience, know how to decide what direction my life will take? The next several years will be very different if I choose to live in Colorado and work as a journalist compared to choosing to work as an editor in New York.

Obviously, I can’t live out each scenario. However, what I can do is explore each option through fiction, or what I like to call, imaginary journaling.

For example, I could write a letter, describing what my life is like, to my present-self pretending to be me two years down the road working as a journalist in Colorado. I could then do the same with the New York option. 

To further explore the issue, I could write a journal entry, pretending to be my future self having chosen Colorado over New York, about why I regret not choosing the other career. I would then write another entry with the situation reversed.

The same method can be applied to any problem you may have. The first step is to identify what you want to find out. Next, make up an imaginary journal entry or two that addresses those wants.

In my example, I wanted to know what my life will be like in a couple years, so I designed my imaginary journal entries to focus on description and feeling of each option.

Next write out the entry, taking time beforehand to get in the mood of the persona you’re playing. The goal is to forget your current self and explore the issue from the perspective you chose to take on.

Lastly, wait a few days and then return to your imaginary entries. Read them a couple of times. Then write about what you learned and how you will apply it to your life.

The only limit on this exercise is your imagination, so be as creative as possible. It can be quite invigorating and rather enlightening to write from someone else’s shoes, even if that’s just you a few years down the road of life.


Wesley English is a freelance writer with his most recent articles published by College Bound Magazine and The Lookout. He also owns Roots Designer Journals, a unique company featuring limited-edition journals carefully handcrafted to bring personality and flair to the art of writing. Visit Roots Designer Journals at

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“Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures,” poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said


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creative journaling