If you’re reading this, you probably have some interest in journaling. Maybe you tried it at one point but then found it hard to stick to a routine, or maybe you’re consistently trying to keep a journaling routine but oftentimes lose the motivation to keep it up. It’s knowing that journaling is good for you but once you get out of the habit, you have trouble getting back into it. Sounds a bit like exercise. Haven’t done that in a while, but that’s not what we’re talking about right now.
I recently saw a post on Instagram about the 4x4x4 journaling method. It’s writing in your journal for 4 minutes a day, for 4 days of the week, for 4 weeks. Sounded easy enough. I later did more research and found that the method originated from AllSwell Creative. Here’s the article if you’d like to read more about it.
But before seeing this post, I was doing some research on the benefits of journaling and how other well-known writers approached it. Take, for example, Virginia Woolf.
Virginia Woolf on Keeping a Journal
According to Florida Press Blog, Woolf would write for 15-20 minutes a day in non-stop freewriting. She wrote about what she did, the people she saw, herself, life, and about books she was writing or hoped to write. But she wasn’t perfect at keeping her journal. She admitted that it’s easy to get caught in the habit of only writing in one particular mood, such as sadness or frustration. And there was one year when Woolf only wrote 30 entries. But she was aware of the benefits of keeping a journal. When kept regularly, it helped to clarify her goals in her life and in her personal projects, namely, her books. So she continued to keep one. There’s even a published collection of her diaries that I would love to read one day.
Benefiits of Journaling
Other benefits that the same blog points out are that “the very act of journal-writing registers concern and respect for one’s self, life, feelings and experiences.” And that “its regularity brings stability and continuity to a chaotic or challenging life.” But like with anything else, seeing significant improvement or enhancement in anything takes consistency and dedication. This doesn’t mean spending large amounts of time on this single activity every day. This often is exhaustive and discouraging. I had tried journaling every single day even if it was just one sentence. That lasted about a week. And I kept trying to keep it up for weeks after that but was discouraged any time I missed a day. Then I just stopped altogether. Journaling every day may work for some people, but most of us have days when we are especially low on time and/or energy. Which brings me to the 4x4x4 journaling method.
The 4x4x4 Method
At first, I found it difficult to find any point in writing for only 4 minutes a day. I couldn’t justify stopping whatever I was doing, getting my journal, finding the journaling pen I often misplace, and then finally getting in the mindset to journal, Seemed like a lot of work for only 4 minutes of writing. But I quickly realized the point. There were many times when I didn’t want to write for only 4 minutes. Sometimes there was too much to say. So once I finally learned to keep my journal and my dedicated pen accessible, this routine turned into something I looked forward to.
Some days I would just write what happened that day just to collect my thoughts and record events. And other days I would feel like I had nothing to say but then ended up having a lot more thoughts jumbled in my mind than I had intially thought. It was nice being able to record any milestones I reached or any goals I achieved. It helped to put my days into perspective instead of just thinking I got nothing accomplished that day. I even found it helpful for sorting out my thoughts so that I could then set more tangible goals for myself. I knew that journaling would benefit me in all these ways, but this achievable routine helped me to actually experience these benefits.
Overall, I found that this method was helpful in creating a journaling routine that I can actually stick to. It allowed myself to write out my thoughts instead of letting them pile up ontop of each other in a disorganized mess. I don’t think there’s a certain amount of times a week you need to journal, but my theory is that the more of an overthinker you are, the more you need to journal for your own sanity. And the 4x4x4 method is great for getting a routine going so that you can get a better feeling as to how much you need to/would like to journal.
If you’d like to read more about keeping a journal, here’s a post I wrote a few years ago about How I Started Journaling Regularly. What are some of your tips on keeping a journal? Have you heard of the 4x4x4 method? Let me know in the comments below!