Writing in a journal has many benefits, from relieving stress, to defining and achieving goals, to recording experiences and growth. Imagine being able to look back several years later and read through the things you experienced, both the good and the bad, and how you grew from them!
Despite all the positive aspects of journaling, many people are afraid to start. If the idea of spending time writing every single day seems intimidating to you, don’t worry! Although, like any habit, starting a journal can take some dedication and commitment, it isn’t hard, and can be very rewarding. Here are just a few tips to help you get started:
- Get a journal. In order to start journaling, you need something to journal in, right? The important thing here is to pick something you like and that you’re comfortable with. If you know that you’ll be hesitant to write in a fancy journal, don’t get one! Even an old notebook can work if you don’t feel like buying something new! Think about what kind of paper you like, too – if you need lined paper, don’t get a notebook without them! If you plan to do some sketching or doodling alongside your journaling, blank pages may be better. Think about your goals for your journal and use those to figure out the best notebook for you.
- Set aside time. It may be helpful to pick a specific time of day – say, just before bed or first thing in the morning – to jot down your thoughts in your journal, but if that doesn’t work for you, don’t worry about it! It’s more important to make journaling a consistent part of your routine, even if you don’t have a certain time each day that you use for writing. Make it a habit to write when you can, rather than forcing yourself to do so at specific times – in the long run will it really matter that you sat down every night before bed for ten minutes? Write when you have time and when you have something to write; if that means writing two pages one morning and two sentences the next evening, that’s okay!
- Don’t censor what you write. If you’re always worrying about what you’re writing, or trying to change things you’ve already put on paper, you won’t get as much out of journaling as you could. It can be tempting to only write good things, or to focus too much on what you feel like you “should” write, but try to avoid this. Recording everything – the good, the bad, and the ugly – will give you a better view of the whole picture, and when you look back on your journal later you’ll be able to see everything you experienced.
- Don’t worry about grammar or handwriting. Don’t like the way your handwriting looks? Don’t worry about it! If you spend all your time worrying about how terrible your handwriting is or about writing in complete sentences with perfect grammar, you’ll never get around to writing anything. Your journal is yours and no one else’s – as long as you can read and understand what you’re writing, it doesn’t matter how it looks or if there are grammatical errors.
- Skip days when you need to! If you want journaling to be a habit it’s important to write consistently, but that doesn’t mean you have to write every day! Life happens, and sometimes we’re just too busy or we aren’t feeling well or there’s just too much going on. Journaling on these days can sometimes help, but if you feel like it’s too much, don’t be afraid to skip a day or two. No one will see your journal but you, so don’t feel guilty when you have to miss a day.
Journaling can be a great habit to pick up, and it doesn’t have to be hard or time-consuming!