Journaling can be a healthy and fulfilling activity. So why haven’t you started journaling yet?
You’ll find plenty of online articles with titles like, “How Keeping a Journal Changed My Life” or “Why Everyone Should Write a Journal.”
It’s true: keeping a journal can be very fulfilling. However, starting a journal for the first time can be tough.
How do you get started? What should you write about? Are you wasting your time?
Today we’re highlighting the best tips on how to start journaling for the first time – or how to start journaling again.
Journal Anything and Everything
The word “journal” has many different meanings. There are academic journals and scientific journals. There are personal journals and diaries. “Journaling” can mean anything you want it to mean.
Struggling to think of things to write about? Write about anything and everything! Here are some of the things you might want to journal about:
- Write about your activities for the day, including any unique things you do at work, school, or home
- Write about your meals, including your nutritional habits
- Write about the people you meet, including anybody who left an impression on you throughout the day – good or bad
- Write about things that make you happy or sad
- Write about your future goals, ambitions, and dreams
- Write about what worries you or scares you
- Write about your life plan
- Write about love, romance, and your perfect partner
- Write about the firs thing that pops into your head, without any direction or goal in mind
- Create lists of places you’ve enjoyed visiting or places you want to travel
- Rank your favorite movies, books, songs, or celebrities
- Confess things, including secrets you’ve never told anyone or the biggest lie you’ve ever told
- Explain your identity, including your nationality, ethnicity, culture, or anything else that defines “you”
Above all, write something you enjoy writing about. If you like what you’re writing about, you’re more likely to continue journaling as a hobby.
Decide on an Audience
Some people keep a journal completely for self-reflection. Their journal is a private collection of their thoughts, meant to be read by nobody but themselves.
Others keep a journal online – like a blog. Mom bloggers might “journal” their journey through parenthood, for example, with the goal of helping other parents.
Who are you writing for? Are you writing for your own private self-reflection? Are you writing to help other people? Are you writing to make money through online blogging?
Find Your Unique Voice
Consider writing to different audiences to see how your “voice” changes. You might find yourself writing in a more relaxed and open way when writing in your private journal, for example, only to close yourself off when writing publicly.
Remember: just because you’re publishing a journal online doesn’t mean you need to reveal your identity. There are plenty of anonymous blogs out there. You can share your thoughts and get feedback – all without people knowing anything about you.
In most cases, your “voice” will sound best when you’re speaking honestly and openly.
Remember that Nobody Feels Like Writing Every Day
“I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes at nine every morning.” – William Faulkner
Faulkner didn’t magically get inspired at 9 every morning. He made writing a habit. He chose to start writing at 9am every day whether he felt like writing or not.
Even the best writers don’t wake up every morning motivated to write. Every great writer struggles with inspiration on certain days.
Here’s the crazy thing: the days where you don’t want to write can often be your best journaling days.
Open a blank document and dump out your thoughts. Write about what you’re feeling right now. Write about how silly you feel for keeping a journal. Write about the weather. Write about nothing.
Maybe you genuinely won’t feel like writing a journal today. That’s okay. Maybe something great will fly from your fingers. You won’t know until you start writing – so write away.
Other Journaling Tips to Get Started
Review and reflect on your writing overnight: Write at night, then edit the next morning. Sleep on a journal entry. Your perspective on something – especially something that makes you angry or sad – might change overnight.
Set a timer and avoid distractions: Set a 20 minute timer on your phone. Write until the timer beeps. Don’t get distracted by social media. You don’t need to reference anything online when writing your own feelings in your journal. All you need is your brain and a Word document (or a blank notepad).
Consider meditating before writing: Some experienced journal-writers start every entry with an entrance meditation. They take a few minutes to visualize the entry and collect their thoughts.
Be honest: One of the best gifts journal writing can give you is the ability to look at yourself honestly. If you’re starting a journal to lie, exaggerate, or avoid tough talks with yourself, then you’re missing out.
Above all, the best tip I can give aspiring journal writers is to just start! Open a Word document. Pick up a pen. Turn off any distractions. Just start writing and see what comes out.