I always kept the date a little lonely on the top right corner of the page. Then, leaving a space below I’d proceed to jot down the words ‘Dear Diary’. Even as a child, I cared so much about how things we formatted, how they looked and how easy they were to digest. Not much has changed since then.
The art of documenting my life has remained consistent throughout my life. Even before I typed out my very first blog post, I had already explored different forms of expression and had penned many candid diary entries by then.
As a young child caught up in between two very different cultures, I found it therapeutic that I could leave my feelings and emotions as a stain on a page and found comfort in the idea that I could one day come back to them in the future. The fact that they’d remain hard cold and unchanged was fascinating to me. It was a snapshot of my experiences, drawn as I felt them at the time – an art form almost, where the colours are made up of words.
Funny, it’s only now as an adult that I realise the true benefits of keeping a journal. Not only as a tool to remember the ‘glory days’, but journaling can be useful for personal growth, and development and to boost mental health.
Over the years I’ve learnt so much about the benefits of keeping a journal and how to make journaling a routine practice. Here are some beginner-friendly insights on How To Start Journaling And Actually Stick To It.
Why Should You Journal?
Before you pick up a cute book and a bunch of pens from the stationary shop, there is one question you should be asking yourself.
Why should you even start keeping a journal?
What’s the point of keeping a journal? Why bother?
Wondering if writing down emotions on a piece of paper will change much is valid. We live in a world where we are often too busy for things that are important to us, and we do not even give a second thought to the ones we may not consider worth our time.
To keep a journal and actually stick to it, a shift in perspective is required.
Perhaps, journaling is not designed to cure all your woes in an instant. Rather the practice of journaling is simply to help you process your overwhelming thoughts so you can understand them better. Journaling is also essential to make you understand how experiences affect the way you move around your world. It’s about self-reflecting in a way that can lead to self-growth, allowing you to slow your pace before your next step.
How Do You Start Writing A Journal?
Remember this when you start writing a journal. Your journal is for you and your eyes only. A journal should be a safe zone that can’t be broken into, a home without windows but a dozen mirrors. The only one allowed in should be you, and the only one judging what you look like within those walls built with pages should be you.
Hence, the house rules should also be drafted in your handwriting. There are countless types of journaling out there – these are a few:
- Bullet Journaling
- Daily Journaling
- Reflective Journaling
- Morning Pages
- Visual Journaling
- Gratitude Journal
Personally, I’d say most of my journal entries are self-reflective in nature. I’m a deep thinker and sometimes an overthinker so I really need those writing sessions to rearrange the shelf of my thoughts and make it look more presentable to me and the rest of the world.
Every Sunday, I open my journal to the whole world in the form of a digital gratitude journal celebrating the Bitesize Wonders of everyday life.
While I did transform it into a series for blog content, keeping a gratitude journal has undoubtedly improved my mental health and has given me a more positive outlook in life.
I don’t think there is a “best” way to journal. Rather, I’d recommend trying out various forms of journaling first before settling on one way. Perhaps, the “best” way is to just go with the flow of your feelings…
What Should You Write In Your Journal?
One thing that stops people from keeping a journal and sticking to it is that they wonder what to write about in the journal.
As a writer, it would be funny if not sad just how many times I’ve stopped myself before starting because I thought my life wasn’t “interesting enough” to have things to write about. I wouldn’t have started this blog if I gave into that perception…
If you’re not used to writing, the practice of journaling may be even more daunting at the start. Frankly, the answer to what you should write about in your journal will vary depending on your mood, and day-to-day occurrences.
You may write whatever is on your mind one day, and respond to an insightful journaling prompt you found on the internet the next day. Some days you might write an essay, and other times one sentence will be the only thing that pours out of you. The most important thing is that you don’t pressure yourself to deliver content for your journal every single. After all, your journal is not a social media feed. You don’t have to pump out content like an influencer would.
A journal is for you and you alone. Write about the things that feed your soul, the truths that make you wonder, the people that make you feel something – good and bad – and the places you always go back to. Essentially, write whatever makes you feel something real.
If you’re unsure where to start, try answering these journaling prompts:
- What would make today better?
- What’s exciting about life lately?
- What’s one thing you learned this week?
- What have you changed your mind on recently?
- What would you tell them if you could?
- What is one thing you could improve about yourself?
- How are you today? No, really… how are you?
- What do you want to change about yourself? And why?
- This time last year I was…
- If I could go back, I would…
How To Actually Stick To Journaling Routine?
First, to really stick to a routine when it comes to journaling, as I’ve emphasised throughout this post, you must experiment to find what works for you. When journaling feels like a tedious endeavour, it becomes easy to push aside.
You may consider this:
- Do it first thing in the morning or as the last thing before going to bed. Writing as part of your morning routine can help set your day off on the right foot. Keep it as the very last thing you do at night helps you offload the day onto a blank page. Either way, setting it as part of your already established routine will help the practice of journaling become second nature to you.
- Set a timer for only 10 or 20 minutes as a way to get started. I learned this productivity trick a few years ago. If I set a timer to do something for a short period, I’m able to convince myself to do it and end up often doing so for much longer in the end.
- If you don’t enjoy writing by hand, try creating a digital space for you to journal in. Whilst I prefer writing journal entries by hand because these days it’s the only occasion for me to write with a pen, writing by hand might not work for you. Consider writing your entries in a secure digital space instead.
Your restless romantic roamer
Do you keep a journal? What journaling tips would you recommend to a beginner?