Journaling is a wonderfully therapeutic activity, that is not only healing and provides clarity, but is very simple to do. Starting on the first day with your first journal entry is often the hardest part. But once you create a journaling habit, the rest naturally falls into place.
If you’re struggling to get started, here are a few simple steps to take.
Don’t Feel Pressured to do it “Right”
This is probably one of the most important things to understand about journaling since it is also a common mistake that keeps people from ever writing in a journal. Journaling does not have any rules you have to follow. It doesn’t matter what you write about, what you write in, or what your sentence structure looks like. All you have to do is be open and honest, and write about whatever you are inspired to. That’s it!
Start With Whatever Form of Journaling You Connect to
There are many different forms of journaling you can choose from, from doing a stream of consciousness style journaling to keeping a gratitude journal, or a daily journal. You have so many options, and you won’t connect to all of them. Remember that the type of journal you benefit from is the one you enjoy the most and that actually makes you want to write.
If you have tried a daily journal in the past and it just didn’t work out, then maybe going a different route would help you. You might prefer to use journal prompts to get deeper into your entries, or you may want to try a specific form of journaling, like keeping a gratitude journal. You may also prefer one that is more of a workbook, where you answer questions for each day of journaling.
Let Go of Expectations
While you can benefit in a lot of different ways from journaling, when you add in ways you expect to improve your life, the pressure can feel like too much and ruin your experience. It is similar to someone who wants to start a new art medium with the purpose of someday mastering it and selling their artwork to make a living. You are going way too many steps in the future, as you still need to learn your craft.
The same can be said of journaling. Don’t think about the end result as much, and for now, just start writing and see what happens. It might be a good idea to start with a brain dump, which is where you do a stream-of-consciousness journal entry. You simply set a goal of writing a certain number of pages or a specific amount of time, then write whatever comes t your mind. It can be anything you are thinking, feeling, planning, or whatever happens to be on your mind.
This is good practice and helps you see what form of journaling you are going to connect the most to.
Write to Someone Other Than Yourself
A little journaling trick that helps people who run into writing blocks is to write your journal entry to someone else, as opposed to yourself. If you kept a diary as a kid, you probably wrote “Dear Diary” at the beginning of the entry, as if you were talking to your diary about your day or what you were feeling. You can use this same trick with your journal, and it might help you find a new way to be inspired.
This can be a letter to someone else (that you don’t send) or simply writing to another version of yourself. By addressing journal entries to someone else and writing in the third person, it can feel like a brand new experience.
Journal Whenever the Mood Strikes
While it can be great to journal in the morning, you absolutely don’t have to. There is no reason you will only benefit by writing in the morning during a traditional morning routine. You might be someone who benefits more from bringing your journal to work and writing on your lunch break, or using it in the evening to talk about your day.
Use Journal Prompts to Get Started
Use journal prompts! They make it so much easier to get started and expand the topics you write about. You can choose from different writing prompts, whether you choose a variety of different topics to write about, or they are on something specific, like personal development, anxiety, or setting goals. Here are some quick journal prompts that can help when you’re new to journaling:
- What are some nagging thoughts on your mind lately?
- What is something you are looking forward to?
- How happy are you with your current personal life?
- What career goals do you have that you still want to accomplish?
- What is the next vacation you would love to go on?