Journaling is something that I have done consistently since I knew how to write, and I truly believe it has the power to help you solve personal problems and live a more productive and creative life. Whether you’re an early riser or a night owl, journaling is something that could definitely fit easily into your daily routine if you let it. I know sometimes starting a new thing can be intimidating, so I thought I’d share my tips so you can get started! Don’t hold back, let those words fly across the page.
1. Recognize your Intent in Journaling.
The reasons we choose to journal are vast and diverse, and definitely unique to each person. Before you begin, decide on why you want to journal. Think back to what sparked this decision in the first place. Do you find yourself needing to vent after a long day? Do you wake up with a million ideas in your head that you need to get down on paper? Whatever the reason, your “why” will help you decide what time of day to journal and what type of journaling you should do.
There’s gratitude journaling, affirmations, and free writing, to name a few. Feel free to try out different techniques to find out what suits you. Watch videos or read more on different forms of journaling to see what you like best! I like to do a mix. In the morning I write three things I’m grateful for, and “I am” statements to help with manifesting certain things in my life. Then I free write three pages. At night, I journal if I feel like there’s anything else I need to say!
2. Designate a specific time of day to journal.
The reason my first tip is to recognize your intent in journaling, is because the “why” can help you decide what the best time of day to journal is for you. If you’d like journaling to help you be more productive, and spark new ideas, then journaling in the morning is the best way to go. Try free writing at least three pages (something I learned about by reading The Artist’s Way). It doesn’t have to be anything special, just the thoughts that are on your mind. You will be amazed by what comes out!
If you’re journaling just to relieve stress or anxiety from the day, then you’ll want to journal at night. If I ever have problems in my day, or am bothered by a relationship or situation, then I choose to journal at night. Often I solve my own problems by the end of the page. It’s also a great feeling to go to bed knowing you wrote everything out, and there’s nothing more to think about. Might be great too if you’re having trouble sleeping!
3. Think of it like you’re talking to yourself, or a close friend.
You don’t have to start with “dear diary” unless you want to! Jokes aside, write as if you’re writing to yourself or a close friend, and it will all feel much easier. I just write what’s on my mind, with no specific audience in mind because I know the words are just for me. Sometimes I think about what people in the future would think, like my great grandchildren, if they were to ever find my journal. But I don’t let that stop me from writing exactly what I need to!
I find that I get super detailed when I’m traveling, or something noteworthy happens in my life. Things that I want to make sure I record every detail of so I can relive them again, or remember them exactly how they happened. If you’d rather journal to specific prompts, there are a lot of great resources on the internet for journal prompts, or even guided journals you can buy that make it a lot easier to stay focused! Another way to journal is by writing as if you’re writing a letter to someone. Especially if you had a conflict or a fight with someone, writing a letter that you’ll never send can help you to sort out your feelings and hopefully feel better about the situation.
4. Be intentional with where you journal, and with what.
One of my favorite things about consistently journaling is that it means I get to buy new notebooks when I fill one! There’s nothing better than new notebooks to me, or probably any writer out there. I live for them. It’s also important that the journal is the size you like, with an inspiring cover (add your own touch if you need to), and that you have a pen that you like. These may seem like small details but I think they help me to stay consistent and motivated to write each day.
It’s also important where you do your journaling. You’ll want a quiet spot. I prefer one with a lot of sunlight and a comfortable seat. I usually avoid journaling at my desk since I sit there all day, so instead I take my journal downstairs to a sunlit couch in my living room. Since I typically journal in the morning, I also make sure I have a cup of coffee to sip on while I write. If I’m journaling at night (which I often do), then I switch out my coffee for a cup of nighttime tea. It’s super relaxing and a great way to end the day.
5. Have fun with it!
There’s really no pressure when you start journaling, or to do it perfectly, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Just relax and write! You’re never going to be 100% ready to start something, so don’t delay. Dive right in and start learning. If you need to take a few days off ever, that’s fine. Just know that on the days where it feels the hardest to write, those are the most important days. If you’re disciplined enough you will start to learn that, and you’ll be better off for it in the long run.
What other tips do you have for people who are new to journaling? Leave them in the comments below!
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Maggie is the blogger behind The Artful Everyday, a travel and lifestyle blog dedicated to living intentionally and finding beauty in the ordinary. She loves the idea that we get to escape our normal lives when we travel, and that it allows us to be more open to the world and its cultures. Maggie lived in Florence while studying abroad, then was an au pair in Rome last fall. She is very passionate about traveling in Europe, especially Italy, and living abroad. Maggie studied Interior Design at the University of Minnesota, but is currently pursuing a career in writing.