Did you know that writing can have a positive effect on your mental and physical health?
Writing helps reduce stress, which then strengthens your immune system. When you journal, you allow your emotions to leave your mind and spill out onto a page. Not only is it cathartic, but it can also be fun.
How can you go about getting started, though? Is there something specific you’re missing, or can you create your own approach?
The answer to both might be yes, but that’s for you to decide. Read on to learn a few of the best journaling tips and find your own answers.
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1. Know Your Options
The biggest thing to know about journaling is that it’s not one-size-fits-all. There’s an approach out there for everyone, but that approach is going to differ for everyone.
When you start journaling or find yourself struggling to continue, it’s important to explore your options before settling on a specific method or system. It’s also important to remember that you have options!
Just because something has worked for you in the past doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to work now. Being open to changing your journaling routine when things feel boring is a great way to ensure that it won’t ever reach that point.
2. Keep It Private
Besides being open to change, knowing that you don’t have to share your journal entries is the next most important thing to keep in mind when you’re struggling to get started.
Sometimes, it’s easy to feel like we’re going to be judged for the things we write in our journals. The reality, however, is that you’re more than likely the only person that’s ever going to actually read your journal and interact with it.
Make it a safe space to communicate your thoughts, and remember that the thoughts of others aren’t allowed here. It’s only you, a pen, and the paper. Make it your own.
3. Write Whenever You Want
A common misconception is that you have to write at a certain time of the day, or you have to write at the same time every day. Put simply, this isn’t true.
While developing a routine can be helpful for journaling, it’s even more helpful to ensure that It fits with your schedule. Don’t feel pressured to write at a certain time each day.
4. Consistency Is Key
While the time you write isn’t important, how often you write is — committing to a schedule can help.
If you want to journal two to three times a week, then set up specific days you do so. If you want to journal every day, then creating time for that in the morning or afternoon each day is a great way to make sure you stick with your commitment.
5. Eliminate Expectations
A great piece of journaling advice is to eliminate all of your expectations.
You don’t have to write certain things. You don’t have to follow specific guidelines. You definitely don’t have to listen to the influence of others.
Listening to what it is that you want to do, and committing to keeping a journal for you is going to ensure that it’s a habit you enjoy keeping, and it’s going to make it more fun to keep around in the long run.
6. Do Some Exploring
There are a bunch of different journals you can keep. Whether it’s a bullet journal, a gardening journal, a travel journal, or even a journal that you keep your pictures in, the possibilities are endless.
If any of those sounded interesting, you should try a few to see what you like and don’t like. When you enjoy what you’re creating, you’re more likely to stick to it in the long run.
7. Get Creative
Among all our journal tips, this one is probably the most fun. If you have old scraps of paper, concert tickets, magazine clippings, drawings, or even a set of paints, you can get creative by adding them to your journal!
It’s similar to scrapbooking, but it’s depicting you and your personality. It’s a great way to get creative with your prompts, or you can add visuals to the words you write.
8. Don’t Be Afraid to Reflect
Reflection can help you in the long run, especially if you find yourself journaling about the same topic over and over again.
If you find yourself stuck on a particular topic, or you feel like you haven’t come very far in your journaling journey, you have an entire book to track your progress with.
Often, as you read your old entries, you can even find different topics to reflect upon based on what you’ve previously written. You might even feel completely different about a subject than you used to, and you can go back and write about the things you’ve learned.
9. Stream of Consciousness Is Effective
One of the best tips for journaling you can adopt is to write down your thoughts off the cuff. This is especially effective if you tend to overthink before you start writing because you don’t have a chance to think about what it is that you’re writing down.
To get started, simply set a timer for five or 10 minutes and then just write everything down that’s on your mind. Some would call this a brain dump, but it depends on what you’re using it for.
You can either write down all the feelings you have surrounding a situation, or you can create a list of all the things you have to get done.
Once you’re done writing, walk away for an hour or more if you have the time. Come back and reread the entry. From there, you can create solutions, organize your list based on priorities, or if you’re struggling to do either, you can write down other things that may have come to mind while you were away.
Eventually, you’ll feel motivated to sit down and work through the troubles you’re facing (or find that you actually need help).
10. Make It Special
If you find yourself lacking the necessary motivation to journal, create something special out of it.
Sit down for a few minutes each morning with your coffee and a blanket over your lap to create a cozy feeling. Put on your biggest sweater in the evening and put on relaxing music right before bed. You can even buy specific supplies for your journal if you’d like!
The time you sit down to journal doesn’t really matter here. What does matter is that it’s something you enjoy, and it’s something that you allow space for. Doing both those things means you’re more likely to implement journaling into your daily routine.
11. Keep a List of Prompts
If stream-of-consciousness journaling simply isn’t for you, or you have a day where you even struggle to do that, try creating a list of journaling prompts to follow for the days you feel stuck.
When you sit down to write with a specific topic in mind, it might jog something in your brain and inspire you to create more.
These prompts can be short questions that make you think about specific emotions or times in your life. They can also be creative topics that make you want to tell a story or write a poem. You can even mix the two so you never know what you’re going to explore that day.
The options are endless, and they can allow you to get as deep as you feel comfortable going.
12. Be Honest About Your Emotions
No matter which of these tips you adopt into your routine, no matter what you sit down at your journal feeling on any given day, it’s important to be honest about your emotions.
Not only is it going to make you a better writer, but it’s also going to help you get help if you need it. In therapy, your counselor can help you based on the information you provide. The principle is the same with your journal.
You can’t acknowledge what isn’t there, and you can’t solve a problem without being honest about it may or may not be affecting your daily life.
Journaling has the potential to be a powerful tool, but it’s only going to take you as far as you allow it.
Put These Journaling Tips Into Practice
Now that you’ve learned all about journaling tips, it’s time to put them into practice!
Taking all or just a few of these tips into account when getting started is a great way to learn more about what works for you and what doesn’t. Playing around with a few of these methods at a time can also be effective, and is a great way to learn more about your personal process!
Keeping a journal can even help in your entrepreneurial ventures! Check out our article on developing a business mindset to learn more.