So we’ve gone over why you should start journaling, but onto the hard part. How to start? There’s really no right or wrong way when it comes to journaling, but here are some tools and tips to get you started if you find yourself staring at an empty page.
Pen and Paper
Yup, that’s right! The tried and tested way of journaling is to just get a notebook or a journal and start writing! I find that this is the easiest way for me to journal regularly. I can carry it around with me and write when I find the time, and the act of writing out the words is cathartic for me. I also enjoy other aspects of a handwritten journal. Little things like the smell of the paper as I crack it open or running my hand over a full page of writing to let the indentations tickle my fingers… I also enjoy that I can tape ticket stubs or photos into it (particularly nice for travel journals I think!)
Online Journaling Sites
There are so, so many online journaling sites out there right now that I will have to do a post on all of the options sometime here soon. Online journaling is a great option for those who work on a computer all day and want to get some journaling done on their lunch breaks, or if you just prefer typing over writing by hand. Many of these sites have options to send you reminders, to have your entries private or public, and some even post daily prompts to get your creative juices flowing.
Keepin’ it old school with a typewriter is a very fun way to keep your journal. Just the smell of a typewriter gets me amped to pour my heart out. If you are going this route I recommend finding a pretty letterbox to keep your entries together in one neat place.
While similar to online journaling sites, blogs are written with the intention to share your writings with others. Blogging will give your writing some accountability, as in if you don’t do what you say you are going to do and follow up with your readers- they are going to all you out on it.
Once you find a medium that you are comfortable with, let’s move on to the actual process of writing.
Stream of Consciousness Writing
This journaling method is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. You write down your thoughts and feelings as you think them in real time. This has also been called interior monologue and free writing. There are many theories out there that suggest that stream of consciousness writing frees your mind and reduces stress. Essentially, this method declutters your mind and frees up space and mental energy to use elsewhere. This is my personal favorite way to journal.
If you are really having a hard time figuring out what to write about, looking up a prompt could be helpful. There are so many prompts lists out there, and maybe one day I’ll make my own for you guys!
If you have an overall theme for your journal sometimes that helps kickstart your journal routine.
- Travel: great for short journals documenting your trips and vacations
- Goals: A documentation of your goals and the steps you take to get there, or the roadblocks you experience on the way.
- Spiritual: Do you practice a religion? Or perhaps you spend time during the day meditating or reflecting on your life or thoughts? Logging your thoughts and practices can be useful to see how far you have come!
- Creative Journal: Do you have a bajillion creative projects going on at all times? Or perhaps you’ve been working on one big project for awhile? Document your progress, or simply keep a list of your ideas and your reflections on them.
- Personal Development: Starting a new chapter in life? Turning a new leaf? Taking the time to jot down your worries, your accomplishments large and small, and your observations along the way helps to keep yourself checking in on your progress. I personally think all journals end up being a documentation of personal development
These are just some ideas if you are interested in journaling, but you’re having a hard time. Your journal doesn’t need a theme, you can just write about whatever your heart sees fit!
This is a biggie for me. I need to know that my journal is going to stay private. I make the effort to keep my journal in a safe and private spot, so I can write uninhibitedly. If I’m constantly worrying if someone is ever going to see what I’ve written then I’ll never write in a journal again. In fact, the fear that someone would see my writing kept me from journaling and blogging for years. So, find a place for your journal that you feel will only be seen by you, and then you can write freely!
SET THE SCENE
Pick a spot and a time that you are by yourself that can be your journal time. It can be anywhere you feel inspired. A hammock in your garden. Your old writing desk. At the library, or just at home on your couch. Also choosing a time slot is a good idea if you’d like to create a regular journaling routine. Pencil it into your schedule so you know you have the time for it.
For example, I do my best journaling if I get up early to watch the sunrise with my first cup of coffee. The whole world is quiet, and it’s all mine. The sense of freedom and isolation the early morning gives is when I get my best journaling in!
Last of all, and most importantly… JUST WRITE! In the beginning it’s a good idea to set a timer for a set amount of time (20 minutes works very well for me), grab a pen and your journal and write until that time goes off. Doing this for a week or two you’ll notice that after your journaling your mind feels more free, and your heart feels lighter. It’s kind of like running for me, the idea of it is usually harder than actually doing it. In both cases, I feel so glad that I did. It will start to feel wrong if you don’t write regularly. Just like anything, you’ll get better with practice and consistency.
Read about why you should be journalling here!