Posted in Writing

How to Write a Journal Entry When You Have “Nothing” to Write About

Thinking small now will have a big impact later.

A couple of years ago, I shared my 10 Tips for Keeping a Journal, and today I want to elaborate on Tip #3: Think Small.

As I said in my previous post, “If you wait until you have ‘good stuff’ to write about, your journal may stay closed for months. The truth is, there’s good stuff happening all around us almost every day. Consider this—who’s this journal for? You, right? What will YOU want to look back on in ten years? What you’ll crave are the little things. The tiny little slices of life that you’ve forgotten about. So your job when journaling is to master the mundane.”

It’s true. I’ve been rereading some of my old journals (a favorite summer habit) and want to scream at my college-age self, “Stop babbling about boy troubles, and tell me what’s in your pockets!” (Somewhere, in another universe, college-age me just had a very strange dream.) Really though, there are plenty of pages about my feelings (which are important, yes) but not enough about my world. When I look back on that time, I’m not interested in reliving all my relationship angst. I’d much rather see my former surroundings—where I spent my Thursday afternoons and which t-shirt was my favorite and what I ate for breakfast. Even after college, I still sometimes went through phases of vague melancholy or (worse) vague bliss where I described my deep feelings of unease or contentment without ever really pinpointing where they came from. That’s why I’m thrilled when I stumble upon entries like this one from February 18, 2007:

I am sitting in my purple chair wearing the new jeans I got at Buffalo Exchange tonight (that I love) with the green sweater that I rescued from the Goodwill bag (that I now really like) and the flip flops from Kelley’s wedding and a black head band wrap. I look totally funky stylin’ (in my not so fashionable opinion).

Note #1: Sweater and flip flops in Austin in February sounds about right.
Note #2: I am such a hoarder of clothes. I used to be SO BAD about putting things in a bag to take to Goodwill and then “rescuing” them a couple of days later, only to wear them once and then send them back to my closet for another year. I’ve learned my lesson. Now I take the bag to Goodwill immediately. Usually.
Note #3: I feel like I was quoting a friend when I used the phrase “funky stylin'” but I don’t remember who. Also, I hope I was being sarcastic.

Or this one from January 31, 2011:

I am sitting in my backyard writing by the light of the campfire I just made for myself (with the help of a firestarter log from HEB). My plan is to sit here and write in my journal and drink some High Life and read Lolita and enjoy the evening for as long as I like, no matter the time. I hear something barking off in the distance– maybe a coyote. Oh, and now I hear the muted but unmistakable caterwauling of Gink…

Note #1: High Life? Seriously? My guess is someone left them at my house.
Note #2: High Life and Lolita is a classy combination.
Note #3: I just Googled January 31, 2011, and it was a Monday, so I was enjoying this late-night campfire on a school night. How scandalous!
Note #4: You have no idea how loud my cat’s caterwauling can be. Someday, when he’s gone, this journal entry will remind me of the crazy sounds he used to make, and it will make me smile.

Those are the kinds of journal entries I can sink my nostalgic teeth into.

So if you’re keeping a journal, and you’re worried that nothing you write is exciting enough, fret not. Some of the most mundane tidbits today may be the lines that give you the biggest smiles ten years from now.

When in doubt, follow these simple instructions:

HOW TO WRITE A JOURNAL ENTRYDownload a PDF of this diagram here:

Here’s an entry I wrote based on this format, without taking any of the optional tangents:

IMG_20180718_150622931 (1)IMG_20180718_152041714

See? Until the robot swung the baseball bat and uncovered the hidden scorpion, there was nothing earth-shattering about this entry, but someday I’ll be glad I mentioned how Gabby used to insist on laying in my lap, and I’ll probably laugh about how excited I was over my first Roomba when I see what the robots of the future can do.

So give it a try. Grab a favorite pen and find a comfy spot and write something that future you will enjoy reading. Most importantly, have fun.


One last thing: Don’t ever feel like you have to fill up a whole page. Even short entries can have a lasting effect.


Terrible handwriting aside, that’s quite a nice little nugget. 🙂


Posted in Halloween, Random, Writing

The Tomato-Elevator and Other Weird Stuff

One year ago today, my shortest and weirdest horror story was published at MicroHorror. Though I can’t explain why, I’m actually quite fond of it. Here is “The Tomato-Elevator.”


The Tomato-Elevator

The tomato-elevator had accidentally produced a squash, again. The director would be displeased.

The workers sought to find the hiccup in the mechanism, but due to the make-up of the machine, it was impossible to see what went on between the thirteenth rung and the fourteenth without dismantling the apparatus completely. And that was forbidden by the warning label. All they could know for sure was that at rung thirteen, they had a slightly bruised, despondent tomato, and at rung fourteen they had an extremely confident squash.

“Why does this keep happening?” asked Bill, who had only been elevating tomatoes for three weeks.

No one responded, but eyes looked at eyes looked at eyes and none of the eyes were Bill’s.

The eyes all said the same thing. There had never been a squash before Bill arrived.

The director was on her way. Decisions had to be made.

“What if…” Bill licked his lips with the effort of thinking, “…what if we made a squash-demoter? You think? You think maybe at rung thirteen it might…”

The eyes looked at the floor looked at the shoes. The eyes did not acknowledge that this was a good idea.

“Fellas?” Bill inquired at bowed heads, hunched shoulders. “Fellas…”

Arms reached, hands grabbed, fingers gripped. Mouth was covered, limbs were restrained, necessary adjustments were made.

Parts were removed.

By the time the director arrived, the machine had been loaded, the mess cleaned up. The workers wore expressions of complacent boredom which clashed with the beads of sweat forming on white foreheads.

Checkmarks on clipboards, satisfied nods to the symphonic whir of machinery, bland admonishments about time and productivity. The director’s stay lasted only forty-seven seconds. She had left the room before the large, dark, misshapen tomato entered the elevation chamber.

When Bill’s heart went from the thirteenth rung to the fourteenth, it turned into a squash.

© Carie Juettner, 2013.
All rights reserved.


Want more weird stuff? My Tumblr has been on a Halloweeny kick this month too. Check out What’s In My Journal.

Here are some things you might have missed:

* The Time I Found a Spell Book in My New Apartment
* How My Halloween Tarot Cards Gave Me a Shock
* My Ideas For a Haunted Water Park (<– Someone please make this dream come true!)