Category Archives: Journaling

Inspirations for Keeping a Journal

Inspirations for Keeping a Journal
John Althouse Cohen / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

 

As I expressed in my previous two articles, Benefits of Keeping a Journal and  Three Ways to Keep a Journal, keeping a journal is a window to your soul. A journal can help you learn about yourself, express your feelings, reduce stress, help solve problems, remember important events in your life, and outline goals. You can keep a journal on paper or online, but the benefits are the same.

There are several types of journals. Gratitude journals, travel journals, idea journals, child or grandchild journals, and inspirational journals are just a few of your options. Or you can be like me and have one journal that incorporates all these ideas.

Whatever type of journal you choose, how can you start a journal and stay motivated to keep writing? Here are a few ideas:

Pick the Right Time and Place

Find a time that personally works for you. Maybe you prefer to write in the morning while your mind is fresh or right before you go to sleep to unload your mind. Keep in mind, that journal writing should be a time of reflection and peace. Try to find a quiet spot whether that be a comfy chair in your bedroom, on your patio with a cup of coffee, by a roaring fire, or under a favorite tree. Find an inspirational spot that works for you and journal writing will become more enjoyable.

Don’t Stress Yourself Out

I don’t believe in commitments like you must write in your journal every single day. That takes the joy out of keeping a journal and defeats the whole purpose. I usually write in my journal once a month, but it varies. Sometimes I feel a need to write more often and other times I’ll go months without writing a word and then pick up where I left off. Journals are meant to be an escape from stress not a dreaded homework assignment.

Also, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t edit yourself. You don’t need to create a masterpiece. Forget about spelling and grammar. Give yourself permission to experiment and make a mess.

Use Your Journal as an Outlet

When you feel depressed, restless, or brimming with ideas, your journal is the perfect outlet. Be honest and feel free to express rage, anger, jealousy, as well as all your worries. Liberate yourself from those negative feelings. Pen letters that you’ll never mail. Write when you feel wretched or write when you’re on the top of the world. Let it all out.

Be Creative

Be imaginative and draw pictures, include photos, or paste things in your journal. Start pages with a question, quote, or half-remembered dream. There are no rules. Maybe you’ll include lyrics, poems, or book excerpts.

In conclusion, remember that journal writing is a personal journey determined wholly by your needs, thoughts, and ideas. It should be a place where you can be yourself without fear of judgment, a place where you can experience your deepest thoughts and feelings, a place where you attain deeper understanding, and a place where you can feel safe and free.

Once you start a journal, don’t forget to go back and read them every once in a while. You’ll be amazed at what you learn about yourself. For example, I wrote in my diary 30 years ago: “I registered for a writing class. It’s exciting. I might not get anything published, but at least I’m taking a step in the right direction of fulfilling a dream.”

How fun it is to look back and realize that 30 years later I am living that dream! Portions of my diaries were even used in my first young adult novel, Just Call Me Goody-Two-Shoes. Who knows what can happen? So start documenting your life story and see where it takes you.

Three Ways to Keep a Journal

Three Ways to Keep a Journal
Slaff / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

In my last blog, Benefits of Keeping a Journal, I listed five great reasons everyone should keep a journal. Once you’ve decided to take the leap, your next decision is which method to use.

There are plenty of choices. Since everyone is different, you’ll need to explore all the options to find the right one for you. Basically there are three ways to keep a journal:

A Paper Journal

I’m a creature of habit and a paper diary or journal is the way I’ve been penning my thoughts, feelings and ideas for over 40 years. To me, nothing beats putting pen to paper. I enjoy the luxurious feeling of sitting down in a comfy chair with a cup of coffee to quietly reflect on my thoughts and document them. Plus, a paper journal can easily be packed to take along on trips, personalized with drawings, tickets, and other mementos, and never needs electricity.

Go to any store, and you’ll see all the beautiful journals available today. Of course, journaling is not all about fancy books but about tapping into your thoughts and feelings and then expressing them on paper. That being said, for some people a pretty journal is part of the sensory experience and helps motivate them to write. Others prefer notebooks with unlined paper so they can sketch and doodle alongside their writings. Some journals even include inspirational quotes and writing prompts to help get you started. Find whatever works best for you.

The downside of recording your thoughts on paper is that you won’t have any backups in case your journal is lost or destroyed. In addition, privacy can be an issue. As a teen, I kept changing hiding places but still my parents, siblings, boyfriend, and friends all loved to read my diaries. That may be part of the reason I decided to become a writer. Heck, if everyone wanted to read about my life, thoughts, and feelings, why shouldn’t I get paid for it? Anyhow, even with these risks, I’m still a pen and paper girl.

An Online Journal

If you’re addicted to your phone, iPad, or laptop, you may choose to keep your journal in electronic form. One of the advantages of e-journaling is that typing is faster and easier. If you have really bad handwriting, an online journal can also be easier to read later.

If you take the proper precautions and password protect your computer-based journal, online journaling can give you a level of security and privacy that paper journals can’t offer. And if you’re a blogger like me, one big advantage is that journal entries can be uploaded directly into your blog without any additional cutting, pasting, or formatting.

Options abound for online journaling. You may choose to keep an encrypted text file in Dropbox or use one of the many apps and web services available that offer privacy and portability. Penzu is a popular password-protected online private journaling tool. This app allows you to search past entries, add photos, and customize the layout of your journal. Day One and RedNotebook are two other popular journaling tools.

Blogging

Of course, now there’s tweeting, blogging, and Facebook, but as I mentioned before, I’m a big fan of the old-fashioned journal. If you use these platforms as a journal you will not only sacrifice your privacy but also lose your freedom to fully express your feelings without worrying about what others think. Plus, you’ll be doing a lot of self-editing which will interfere with the free flow of your creative thoughts.

However, I know this the preferred route for many whom like an audience and want to get their thoughts and feelings out into the open. A wide variety of tools and hosts are available, both free and paid. For my purposes, WordPress has been a great platform. Blogger, Livejournal, Medium, Squarespace, and Tumblr, Google+ are some of the other options – there are plenty more. If you choose to express your thoughts and feelings in a blog, perhaps you can keep a separate private journal where you can express your deepest thoughts without fear of judgment or need of justification like me.

However you choose to keep a journal, you won’t regret it. In my next blog, the third and final part of this series, I’ll supply some ideas to help you make the most of your journal and some inspiration to keep you writing.

 

Benefits of Keeping a Journal

Benefits of Keeping a Journal
Silvia Viñuales / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Since I’ve kept a journal since the age of 12 and am a writer by profession, maybe I’m biased. All the same, I’m a firm believer in keeping a journal.

When I was a teen, I wrote in my diary every day. These days I’m not quite so studious, but I still write in a journal about once a month. And of course, I share my thoughts and feelings on a regular basis in this blog.

In my opinion, the benefits of writing in a journal cannot be overstated. Science just so happens to support this belief. Journaling has been proven to improve mental and physical health.

In case you need a little inspiration to put pen to paper, here are five reasons to keep a journal:

  1. Journaling helps you learn about yourself. By regularly recording your thoughts and feelings you can gain insight into your behaviors and moods. You’ll get to know who and what makes you happy and what situations and people to avoid. Consequently, journaling will help you avoid repeating mistakes which leads to increased self-esteem and personal growth.
  2. Writing can help you express sadness, fear, pain, or anger, releasing the intensity of these feelings. That’s makes journaling an important tool for your emotional well-being and stress reduction. You’ll find it easier to cope with life and work through frustrations by writing them down. In addition, journaling can help you heal from grief and loss. Trust me, it’s a wonderful outlet!
  3. Journaling can be used for problem-solving and resolving disagreements with others. Writing about misunderstandings can help you to understand another person’s perspective, clarify issues, and hopefully help you come up with sensible resolutions. When we record significant lessons we’ve learned in life, we gain a deeper understanding, insight, and hopefully some wisdom to help us with future problems.
  4. Keeping a journal helps you remember important events and hang on to feelings and memories that would otherwise fade or be lost altogether. In addition, you’ll be able to keep track of personal triumphs so that when a seemingly impossible situation arises, you’ll be reminded that you have resolved and overcome previous dilemmas in the past and can do so again. As a result, you’ll find motivation and strength from earlier successes to prevail again.
  5. Journals are a great place to outline your plans, ideas, goals, and dreams. When you write, things come to light that, for some reason, don’t when you talk or think about them. The importance of committing to our goals in writing cannot be overstated.

Those are just five reasons – if you research the Internet you can find plenty more.

In my next blog, I’ll give you some ideas on how you can get started and different methods of journaling available today. Which one is best for you? Stay tuned. Whatever method you choose, journals can be a huge benefit to you personally and enlightening to anyone you share them with.