Starting to Journal
Keeping a journal can be incredibly rewarding. It gives you a unique way to engage with the happenings of your daily life. Journals are an artifact of life to hold onto for years to come. Despite journal writing being an easy and pleasurable task, many people find they have difficulty sticking to it. But it doesn’t have to be this way! Here we will discuss some strategies for breezy journaling, as well as some different approaches to getting started.
What does starting to journal writing look like?
We tend to think of journals as a kind of diary. It is assumed that it is a place to scribble all their day’s thoughts for pages. This is certainly one way to keep a journal—but there are many other options. One option, for example, is bullet journaling, which simply consists of writing out your day in concise bullet points. Another would be a journal with a very narrow focus. Say, a journal that consisted of detailed descriptions of everything you ate or wore, that day. Some people also keep journals that stick to very specific prompts. Such as, “write 5 things you saw and 5 things you thought about today”. This is a great way to fend off any writer’s block and keep your mind active.
How do I get started?
Open a notebook to a blank page put your pen to the paper, and get going! In literal terms, this is how to start. But anyone who has tried to start journaling knows that, in practice, it’s much more difficult than that. This is because we tend to mentally frame journal writing as an obligatory task, like a chore. This leads us to put off journal writing until the end of the day. At which point it feels even more cumbersome, which is a classic cycle of procrastination. The first step to starting a journal is figuring out its role in your life. Journals should never be a burden. Maybe you’d like your journal to be a detailed account of every moment of your day. Or maybe you’d like each entry to contain no more than three sentences.
The best thing about journals is that, unlike academic essays, they are entirely flexible and free of expectation. You could start writing your journal in one format, and then switch to another, and then switch back again. You could write intensely for one week straight and then not touch your journal the next week. Best of all, nothing you write has to make any sense. You are writing entirely for you and no one else.
This kind of freedom when it comes to journal writing is a bit of a catch 22. On the one hand, it removes any pressure from the process. But on the other hand, a little bit of pressure is often needed to avoid ending up with a blank journal. This is perhaps the most difficult aspect of keeping a journal: finding balance. How much structure do you need in order to build this journal writing habit in a healthy way? I tend to fall somewhere in the middle. I adhere to a daily word count in my own journals. For example, but I don’t panic about missing a day, or even a week or a month, at a time. For others, it might be absolutely crucial that they write daily, even if only a few words at a time.
A journal has no deadline. It is something that can quite literally take a lifetime to complete. Journals capture a moment in time similar to the way photos do. But, they are filtered very concretely through your own perspective. Journal is making them a treasure to look back on as you grow older. They also serve as a record of your own academic, professional, and/or emotional growth. It’s a monument to all the hurdles and triumphs that have made you who you are.