One of the biggest myths about writing is that it simply comes naturally to gifted individuals. Even best-selling authors are plagued by procrastination, self-doubt, and writer’s block, and putting pen to paper often requires determination and discipline.
All of this may seem like a bit of a turn-off if you’re wondering how to start journaling. However, we’re here to tell you that pushing through these obstacles and setting aside some time for your journal every day could do wonders for your motivation levels and mental health.
In fact, research has shown journaling can reduce feelings of depression and anxiety, help us to better understand our own emotions, and even improve immune system function! If you’re an aspiring novelist or poet, it could also help you develop ideas and hone your writing style.
So, if you’re on the hunt for tips about how to start a journal and maintain the habit, we’re here to help. Check out our foolproof journaling strategies below and set your ideas free.
Set realistic expectations
Some people view journaling as an arduous task that involves producing pages of well-crafted writing every day. This simply isn’t realistic. If you’re pressed for time, even 15 minutes of journaling a day can be hugely beneficial.
You don’t have to come up with anything particularly poetic or even write full sentences if you’re not in the mood. Just let whatever comes into your brain flow onto the page and allow it to rest there for a while.
Remember that you don’t have to show your journal entries to anyone else – let your thoughts run wild.
Do it in the morning
Morning journaling may sound a little counterintuitive, but you’re more likely to have the motivation to write early in the day. Leave your notebook by your bedside and write for a few minutes while sipping a coffee. You may even grow to look forward to the ritual.
Don’t commit to a word count or anything more than setting aside some time to write in your journal. Reflect on the previous day or think about the day ahead of you. The goal is to make it a habit.
Come up with a template
Sometimes, a blank page can feel intimidating. To encourage yourself to write and get your creative juices flowing, why not make a template to guide your practice?
You could, for example, write three bullet points about your favorite events of the day or ask yourself a daily question such as “How can I make tomorrow more fulfilling than today?” or “What have I been grateful for recently?”
If you’re a sucker for planning and organization, you could even incorporate a to-do list in your journaling regimen.
Don’t know where to start, check out one of these books:
- Write With Yourself: Expressive Writing Journal Prompts For Self Care
- Write It Down, Let It Go: A Worry Relief Journal
Turn off your WiFi
The internet is by far the most compelling distraction the modern world has to offer. To avoid getting sucked into social media scrolling or checking your emails, disconnect from your WiFi during journaling sessions. A pen and a notepad are all you need!
Just Start Writing
If you are reading this, then you have some interest in the idea of keeping a journal. This means the one thing you need to do is to start writing.
No one is judging what you are writing. What you write is only for you right now. Set aside the time to jot down your thoughts. Included below are a set of journal prompts you can start using to inspire your efforts, but don’t get locked into anyone else’s idea of what a journal should be.
It can be a to-do list, it can be memories, it can be frustrations and worries. It is your journal.
You can also choose to commit to a short term journaling project. Write every day for one month. Or keep a journal while going through a specific time in your life like a wedding or career change.
Sample Journal Prompts
- What makes you happy?
- Describe a place where you feel content.
- Write a letter to someone who has inspired you.
- What makes a job good in your opinion?
- Where do you want to travel and what will you do when you travel there?
- What is your ideal 5 year plan?
- What are you most grateful for?
- Write a letter to your older self.
- What was the most peaceful moment during the day?
- Describe something you learned today that you didn’t know before.
- What did you dream last night?
- What is your most common day dream?
- Who would you invite to your ideal dinner party?