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 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.