“I don’t want to live in a hand-me-down world of others’ experiences. I want to write about me, my discoveries, my fears, my feelings, about me.” – Helen Keller
I have had this odd ‘love-hate’ sort of relationship with journaling. I’ve always kept a journal (as you can see, I love to write!) and don’t get me wrong, I love it more than I hate it.
There are days when I love jotting down my thoughts and ideas. On other days, I’d avoid it like a plague to the point that I’d stick it in the bedroom drawer so I don’t have to see it for a while.. and then, only to go back and reconcile with it again.
Strange? Yes, I agree.
But no matter what your ‘relationship’ is to your journal (if you’ve already started one), I hope I’ll get you thinking with this post. I’ve also gathered some helpful tips on how to start a journal.. and why you should start one.
If you’ve been wanting to start a journal and just don’t know where to start, you’re in the right place!
So, why should you journal?
What do you benefit from journaling?
Well, everyone has their own reasons why they keep a journal. The most obvious reason is that it’s a way to put your thoughts down. It’s totally healthy to relay all your thoughts, ideas, dreams, ambitions, or worries onto paper. And you guys, it’s backed by science! Read on to find out.First, find the right journal for you. This is where it all starts. Picking out the perfect journal to start this journey. There are many incredible choices it hard to choose the right one. For the last couple years, I’ve been using the Simplified Journal by Emily Ley. It’s an astounding journal, whether you’re a first-timer or you’ve been journaling for years! This 100-page journal is a simple journal to use. It has a great layout for journaling, prayers, letters to little ones, brain dumps, big thoughts and great ideas. It’s not bulky and does not weigh a ton, and you can personalize it with your initials and make it yours!
Your journal is your best friend. Take your journal everywhere with you. There will be times you are not able to take it with you. When you have an idea or a thought you want to expand on, grab a scrap piece of paper, a napkin, or anything to write it down. Always be sure you transfer those into your journal when your able to. Getting too many extra pieces of paper can get overwhelming, so I would update your journal at least once a week.
Handwrite in your journal. Handwriting spontaneously in your journal will help you identify your emotional state especially when you go back and re-read your journal. You will easily be able to tell by your handwriting how you were feeling that day when you wrote it. Handwriting in your journal has many benefits. It helps you from becoming distracted. If you journal on your computer, it’s too convenient and you get too distracted checking or logging in to your social media pages or checking your email. By handwriting, you have just your pen and paper. Nothing to make your mind wondering in other directions!
Also, by handwriting you can use your favorite pen! I love writing on my journal with my incredible pens from Marvy Le Pen. They’re stylish, sleek and comfortable to hold. The colors are bold and make writing legible. The best feature is: these pens do not bleed through to the other side of the paper. Of course, find the pen for journaling that best suits you.. there are aplenty on Amazon, or at any office supply store near you!
Leave a few blank pages open. When you start journaling, it’s best to leave a few blank pages in the beginning. Once you start writing and get close to the end of the journal, you can go back and highlight the entries that you know will reference back too. By leaving blanks pages you can write “cheats” to know exactly where to find those entries. Mina Murray, from Dracula, quoted, “Journaling is like whispering to one’s self and listening at the same time.” Let your blank pages help you listen to where to find your thoughts.
Don’t worry about grammar, just write. This is your journal, not the dictionary! You will not be graded on this. Does that give you any relief? It should, it’s the truth. Your journal is the place where you can capture your inspiration or idea quickly, in which ever way you choose. Write it down before it’s lost forever. Your journal, your thoughts, your grammar. Period.
Make the time. If you are serious about journaling, which I am guessing you are if you’re still reading this article, you need to set some time aside for journaling. I’m not talking hours upon hours, but maybe 10-30 minutes a day, give yourself that time to write. Some days may be easier to find the time, some maybe harder, but consistency is more effective and beneficial if you take time each day.
Journaling does good for your health. Believe it or not, journaling brings you clarity, reduces stress, helps you get through stressful situations and can help with your overall emotional well-being.
This study from the PsychCentral also has a helpful list of health benefits of journaling.
So, what is left? You have your journal, your pen, and simplified tips to start! But oh, I’m not done just yet. I want to give you a list of things you can include in your journal to get you started. Now, it’s not mandatory that you follow this list, after all, this journal is about you and your thoughts. These are merely suggestions and starters if you don’t know exactly where to begin.
- Goals – What do you want to accomplish in a year? 5 years? 10 years?
- Poetry – Why do you like these poems? Does it involve a memory?
- Inspiring Quotes – List of your favorites (this can be an ongoing entry)
- Music – Favorite songs, lines from songs. How does it make you feel?
- Books – Favorite books, or a “Want to Read” list.
- Pictures – Cut out pictures of things you love, or somewhere you want to travel (I do this all the time!)
- Websites – New sites to explore
- Reactions – Personal situations, world events
- Daily – Reflection of how your feeling
- Family – Write about your loved ones. Memorable times, silly stories, special occasions.
- Lists – Top 10, Top 20
- Travel – Favorite vacations, dream vacation
- Movies – Favorites, actors/actresses.. how do they portray their characters?
- Dos & Don’ts – of any subject
- Jokes – What makes you laugh?
- Write a letter – to your past and your future
- Admire – Who do you admire? Why?
All the information can seem overwhelming, but just take a day at time.
By the way, I’ve been reading Emily Ley’s amazing book, Grace, Not Perfection: Embracing Simplicity, Celebrating Joy ( shhh, it’s on my “Want To Read Books in 2017” in my journal). I rarely write a review on self-help books, but this one is really amazing! This book gives women perceptible ways to simplify their lives to give space to what matters most. It’s a great read, especially if you’re journaling!
Journaling does allow you to put your thoughts all over the place, yet it’s also about simplifying your life.. allowing yourself to put words down on paper so you can embrace, celebrate and enjoy your life!
So do you keep a journal? Why or why not? Or, after reading this article, do you think you’ll start your own journal soon? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so tell me in the comments!
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