I used to write in my journal maybe a few times a year. I liked the idea of it and had good intentions of journaling on a regular basis, preferably daily, but I would maybe go two days in a row at the most and then I would forget about it for months on end. Does this sound familiar?
During the past few months or so, I’ve started to write in it a lot more regularly. And in the past couple months, I’ve actually been writing in it almost daily. But like with anything else, you have to start gradually and without high expectations.
As much as people like you and me love the process of buying journals (because if you’re reading this then more than likely you have a couple journals you haven’t finished) and not actually writing in them, it’s not actually about that. I think that we all like to play with the idea of writing in a journal and finishing it up just so you can go and buy another journal, except we never actually finish a journal and end up buying another journal anyway. Which brings me to my first tip:
Find the purpose of your journal.
Why do you want to start a journal? For me, it was to create a place I could safely and confidently express my thoughts without any judgement from anyone else. It’s served as a source of anxiety relief so that my brain doesn’t get overcrowded with thoughts that are difficult to explain to other people. In other words, journaling has to be of some benefit to you in order for you to feel like you’re getting something out of it instead of just wasting your time. This will make it easier for you to actually set aside time in the morning or at night or whenever you find it best to journal instead of putting it off and falling into the same pattern of journaling once a year.
Think of it as a memory book.
If you’ve ever journaled in the past, have you ever looked back on those journal entries and reminisce about that period of time in your life? It’s such a good feeling. It’s more than just looking back on old picture albums or scrolling through your pictures on your phone. Because journaling captures more than that, it captures exactly how you were feeling on that particular day and it makes you realize how much you’ve grown over the years. The more I thought about this concept and how much my journal entries would mean to me in 10, 20, 50 years, it motivated me to not only write in my journal more often, but to write the good, the bad, and the ugly. Not just the bad because I don’t only want to remember the bad times in my life, but also not just the good because I would like to reflect on how even bad situations can sort themselves out eventually.
Don’t set high expectations.
This idea of journaling every day can be overwhelming, which is why I titled this blog post “How I Started Journaling Regularly” and not “Daily”. I’ve found that if I actually don’t really have anything to say some days then it’s ok. I used to pressure myself into writing in my journal whether I really wanted to or not. So it became like some sort of obligation to write instead of just writing to get my thoughts out there and provide myself with an alternative way to wind down. I used to feel that if I missed a day of journaling then I was a failure and would never journal on a regular basis. But that’s the beauty about having your own journal, you can make it whatever you want it to be and if you skip a day it’s no big deal. Since I write in my journal to mainly declutter my brain, if I find that some days I’m feeling okay and don’t really feel like I need to write, then I don’t and I don’t feel bad about it. It depends on why you’re writing, which is why the first step of this process is important.
There are no set “rules”
Some days I’ll write on one side of a page and other days I’ll write 5 pages front and back. If you pressure yourself into writing a certain amount of pages a day, it’s going to feel like a school assignment and not like an activity you’re doing for yourself. You also don’t have to worry if your sentences are complete or if you spelled something correct or not. You also don’t even have to be a “good writer” to journal. If anything, you’ll just get better and better at writing and at expressing your thoughts and feelings. You also shouldn’t feel like “it’s best” to journal in the morning because “evidence says” that journaling in the mornings is best for you. You do you. We all have different schedules and different ways of going about our day. It could be that you like journaling at night because then you can talk about your day or write down everything you’ve been thinking about throughout the day and this helps you clear your mind before sleeping. Do whatever works for you.
So now that I’ve discussed the steps that helped me start journaling regularly, now we’re going to discuss what type of journal you should use depending on your preferences.
Digital or physical journal?
I think most people here prefer to have a physical journal. but each do have their benefits. A digital journal is great because you can write down your thoughts faster. It is also space efficient and you can edit your entires if you’d like. Not to mention, if you want to look for a particular subject in your journal you can use the search button and find it easy peasy. What I like about a physical journal, though, is that it’s a slower process and really lets me think about my thoughts a bit more and it’s just a lot more therapeutic physically writing down my thoughts and having no power to go back and edit a sentence (unless you have white out or if you’re writing in pencil but you get what I’m saying). There’s something about a blank page that makes me feel like I have no limits on how and what I can write.
Finding the perfect journal.
If you’re just starting out, I think that getting a smaller journal (in size or in number of pages) may be less intimidating. Getting a journal with a lot of pages can almost feel daunting. You’re just starting out so you don’t want to feel like you have a long task ahead of you to fill up those pages. It’s also best to get a smaller journal while you figure out what kind of journal and type of paper (lined, dotted, graphed, blank) is best for you. If you’re someone who likes to take your journal with you everywhere you go, then maybe getting a notebook that will fit in your purse or bag will be best. I don’t personally like to take mine anywhere outside of my house unless I’m traveling or going to be going to be out of the house for the entire day. I personally like a notebook that’s light and not too bulky, which for me means no spiral notebooks, no 3D designs, no bulky clasps (which I just realized with my current journal). You want something that is easy to open up and comfortable to write in, which brings me to what type of writing utensil you would use.
Journals I would suggest:
Finding the right writing utensil.
I’ve found that, for me, using a pen is much better than a pencil. Pencil tends to smudge a lot more easily and the writing starts to fade over time. The pen should also be easy to write with. If the pen you’re using isn’t smooth enough, your hand will probably cramp and your handwriting might be a little difficult to read (which also has a lot to do with the type of paper your writing on). Smooth, thin ballpoint pens are a win for me. But everyone’s different so find what’s best for you.
Remember that journaling is a process. You won’t see immediate improvement on how often you journal. Journal when you feel like it and however amount of pages that you want. I was once writing maybe a page a day but that easily increased to 4-5 pages a day, which resulted from not pressuring myself into writing a certain amount of pages every day. No one else is meant to read your journal, so write for you.
If you have any other tips or have experience with regular journal writing, leave your comments down below.