Great leaders, geniuses, and generations of teenagers have kept journals to record their experiences and sort through their thoughts and feelings. A journal can have many purposes. It may help you to lose weight, heal emotionally, or manage your career.
Maybe you’ve wanted to start a journal of your own, but something keeps holding you back. You might find it difficult to squeeze another task into your busy days or you may have doubts about your writing abilities.
The truth is that there’s no single formula for journaling success. Use these tips to help you develop your own individual style so you can start a journal and stick with it.
Finding Your Time to Journal
Designate a time. Blocking out the same time each day for journaling may help you to create a steady habit. It could be first thing in the morning or the last thing you do before bed.
Carry it around. On the other hand, maybe you prefer to write when inspiration strikes you and events are fresh in your mind. Keeping your journal handy will let you jot down your comments on the spot.
Be brief. Do you skip days unless you have the time and energy to compose a long essay? An entry can be a single word or multiple pages depending on what you want to express.
Finding Your Method for Journaling
Put pen to paper. Studies show that writing things by hand makes a deeper mental impression than digital communications. If you like the feel of tangible objects, buy a fancy blank book or use any scraps of paper available.
Get an app. Maybe you’re more comfortable on your phone or tablet. Browse online for the many apps dedicated to journaling. You can also create your own templates.
Collect prompts. If getting started is a stumbling block for you, gather prompts that will give you something to write about. Search for them online or make your own list.
Pick a format. Speaking of lists, a journal can be organized however you like. Write in full sentences or bullet points. Invent dialogue or pretend you’re writing a letter.
Draw pictures. What if you’re more effective expressing yourself through images rather than words? Make sketches with or without captions. You can also add photos and clippings.
Limit editing. Writer’s block can often be overcome by resisting the urge to censor yourself. Let your thoughts flow freely instead of worrying about how they sound.
Other Journaling Strategies
Slow down. Develop calming rituals to make your journaling more enjoyable and productive. Set aside a quiet and comfortable space in your home. Brew a cup of tea or play soft instrumental music.
Note the date. Recording the date on your entries has many advantages. It can make you feel more accountable about skipping days. It also makes it easier to find past entries that you may want to refer back to.
Protect your privacy. Technology has come a long way since old fashioned diaries with a flimsy lock on the cover. Passwords and encryption provide greater security if you want to keep your musings to yourself.
Share with others. Then again, you might be eager to build a bigger audience for your journal. It could be a tool for working with your therapist or something to leave for your children and grandchildren.
Review and reflect. Whatever form your journal takes, looking back can be illuminating. Revisiting past entries will show you where you’re making progress and where you might want to grow.