How To Start Journaling Today!

how to start journaling

‘Journal writing gives us insights into who we are, who we were, and who we can become.’ – Sandra Marinella

Start Journaling Today

You might be thinking to yourself, but how do I start journaling?

People start journaling for many different reasons, depending on their circumstances and how the act of journaling can fulfil a specific purpose for them to explore. Here are just a few examples:

Self-Reflection

When you were younger, you may have written a diary and reflected on your daily routine. Self-reflection journaling can be an opportunity to capture your thoughts about dreams and aspirations and also reflect on lessons learned.

Goal Setting

A Bullet Journal (or BuJo) is a good example of journaling for goal setting . This is a system of rapid logging to help organise your life in the short, medium and long term. Essentially, it is a series of organised lists and symbols that log your purpose (future aspirations), your strategies (monthly goals) and break down how you will execute them (daily tasks).

Therapy

For many people to act of writing about their experience can help them to overcome trauma or anxiety. By exploring their inner thoughts and emotions, they can make sense of traumatic events and their reactions to them.

Challenge

Being part of a writing group can create opportunities where you are encouraged to express yourself in writing. This can be an exciting challenge and the chance to write about issues that are important to you.

Gratitude

What can you learn from today? During the current pandemic, people are trying to find ways to remain optimistic about daily life. Writing a daily gratitude journal can help you keep a positive mindset and focus on the good stuff.

‘Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.’ – William Wordsworth

How To Start Journaling

journal writing

Choose Your Journaling Format

Should I use a pen and paper or my laptop? There are pros and cons of both formats so why not try both?

Have fun choosing notebooks that will inspire you to write. The physical process of writing can help with remembering ideas and can be very relaxing. You may want to add or edit organically to build on these ideas as you read back through your notes.

As an alternative to notebooks, there are a range of apps suitable for those new to journaling and more experienced writers. Examples include:

Depending on the type of journaling, the content doesn’t necessarily have to be writing. You can also try doodles, sketches and mind maps to express your ideas.

What not try an Art Journal? Use different media, cutouts or textures to experiment freely and bring your ideas to life.

How to Start Journaling – Use a Schedule

Find a time that works for you, it doesn’t have to be daily practice but a routine will help you commit to journaling. Form a habit by scheduling journaling sessions and setting specific timeframes.

Try varying the time of day that you write your journal; you may be more productive or relaxed in the morning or evening. Set realistic expectations on your time input and narrow goals on less productive days. Journaling should be enjoyable so make it work for you.

‘The habit of writing for my eye is good practice. It loosens the ligaments.’ – Virginia Woolf

writing environment

Create The Right Environment

Consider your journaling environment. Think about how your space affects your productivity and concentration. Find a quiet room or sit in nature, perhaps on a balcony or in a garden. The right environment will make the journaling process relaxing and enjoyable.

Make your journaling a special event. Sit with your favourite brew whilst you write or play music to relax you. Use a variety of pens to highlight themes or just to make it look more colourful.

Commit To Your Journaling Process

It may be difficult to take the first step when you’re faced with a crisp new blank page or screen. To get you started, why not write a manifesto of what you want from your journal? Alternatively, set a goal or start with an inspiring quote.

Collect a variety of journaling prompts, such as meaningful questions or ‘What if’ scenarios. These can be helpful on days when you are stuck for words.

Initial prompt ideas could include:

  • What did you do for the first time today?
  • Write down three things that make you laugh.
  • Name your greatest fears.
  • If you had the ability to time travel, where would you go?

Carry your journal with you to capture those unexpected thoughts. You may stumble on a brilliant idea whilst you’re visiting the local coffee shop!

Keep your journal private. You are more likely to write more openly and honestly without worrying about it being seen by others. Remember that journaling is about self-reflection so no-one needs to see it unless you choose to share it.

Just Write

Write down whatever is on your mind. The concept of ‘Stream of Consciousness’ writing is a great way to get started. Don’t worry about punctuation or grammar and don’t self-correct. Just write down thoughts as they come to you. This exercise is effective for allowing your inner thoughts to come to the surface.

‘We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.’ – Anais Nin

journaling notebooks
Photographer: Charl Folscher | Source: Unsplash

The Benefits of Journaling

It can boost your creativity

Journaling is an opportunity to capture ideas and thoughts. The physical process of writing occupies the analytical left side of your brain which means the right side is free to explore your creativity.

It can help you manage stress

Noting down your reactions and feelings can reduce stress, anxiety or depression. Journaling can help you to let go of negative feelings and re-establish a sense of control in your life. It also removes stress from inhibition because you can write freely without judgement.

It can lift your mood

As you develop a greater awareness of your needs through journaling, you can learn how to regulate your emotions and boost your wellbeing. Gratitude journals are a great way to achieve this.

It can boost your immune system

Journaling is cited as one of many activities that can support personal wellbeing. Expressive writing is said to lower blood pressure which can help with overall health and faster healing.

You can start a journey of self-discovery

Self-reflective journaling can help you to remember ideas more effectively and recognise patterns of personal growth. You can also make sense of your identity and work towards becoming your authentic self.

self discovery journal

You can improve your communication skills

Regular journaling can actually improve your range of vocabulary and help you to articulate your ideas more clearly. It can also help you to discover your voice as a writer.

It will help you sleep better

Journaling before bedtime can help you to unpack your thoughts of the day out of your head and onto the page. When you commit to capturing your thoughts on paper, this clears your mind of worries or repetitive thoughts which will make you more relaxed and prepared for a good night’s sleep.

Your memory and concentration will improve

Regular journaling improves working memory capacity and focus. By focusing on one task, you let go of other distractions and allow yourself to be in the present moment. This form of mindfulness not only has cognitive benefits but can impact positively on your overall wellbeing.

You can achieve your goals

By committing to the journaling process, and ultimately being clear about your wants and desires, you can move closer to meeting your goals.

It can develop your problem-solving skills

The clarity you get from write down ideas and thoughts in your journal can help you to understand complex feelings. This insight means you will be able to solve problems more effectively. Find the answers within yourself.

In the journal I do not just express myself more openly than I could to any person; I create myself.’ – Susan Sontag

With so many positive benefits, it’s easy to see why journaling is growing in popularity as a method of personal development. So harness your potential and get writing!

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