The Ultimate Guide To Journaling

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Although, I have been keeping a journal my entire life I have never considered myself a master of the art. In fact, most of my journals from my childhood are filled with considerable gaps that probably wouldn’t make any sense to the average reader.

I start off with an incredible life-changing story about my experience when I was eight years old and the next entry involves me hitting puberty and experiencing manhood. It is true that in today’s world my journal and I are like estranged brothers, but most people say that my writing is pretty good and has had quite the profound impact on their life.

It is no secret that the effects of keeping a journal have been well documented throughout time, but the most difficult part for most people is getting started. They don’t know where to begin or what even to write about.

Like I said, I do by no means consider myself an expert, but this is why I decided to comprise an ultimate guide to creating a journal. Throughout this guide, I will try to help the curious individual develop the skills that he or she needs to successfully create their own journal.

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Step One: Knowing What To Write About

As stated above, most people don’t really know where to begin, because they don’t know what to write about. When it comes right down to it, this really is the easy part.

All you have to do is think about why you want to keep a journal in the first place. Are you feeling stressed out, suffering from depression, or do you just want to document what is going on in your life?

If you want to keep a journal for practical purposes and memories maybe you just jot down the events that take place in your daily life. Write about what happened in or out of the office.

Whatever the situation is, know your subject and the reason for writing in the first place and this will go an extremely long way in helping you decide on your topic.

Step Two: Knowing The Right Time To Begin

Have you ever heard about an artist getting up at four in the morning and painting the waves splashing against the lighthouse in the middle of the ocean? Have you ever really wondered why they do this?

Well, it has a lot to do with light, visibility, and imaging. The light only shines the brightest and illuminates certain spots at the right time of the day or morning. And, this very concept should be applied to your journaling.

Some people are early risers, whereas others feel like they are more creative at night.

Over the years, there really has been a lot of controversy surrounding whether the night or day is better for creativity. When it really boils down to it, it only matters what works for you.

Do you feel like you are more creative during the day or at night?

There really is no set rule that says you can’t write on your lunch break or during the middle of the day. Whatever inspires you is what you should take advantage of.

For instance, if the main purpose and intent of your journal is to relieve stress before going to bed at night, this is when you should record your thoughts.

In addition to this, there is nothing that says trial and error doesn’t work. Experiment and figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Step Three: Choosing A Method Of Writing

When it comes to journaling, most people automatically think about sitting down and putting pen to paper. Sure, this might be the most traditional means and it can be truly effective.

However, in today’s technology filled world, this is not the only means that you have available to you. You have journal apps, computers, notepads, and even tape voice memos to choose from.

Whatever the situation is, it is highly recommended to start out with paper and pen or at least try it once, because it has proven to have profound effects.

Back in 2012, there was a direct study conducted involving kids that were learning to differentiate between shapes and sizes. The study basically involved measurements on how the children’s brains reacted to letters, shapes, digits, and noises. There was a major difference in the way that children reacted to letters on paper than anything else.

This suggests that putting pen to paper has a profound effect on the brain.

More Journaling Tips

Just these three simple steps will get you started on your conquest to creating a journal, but in order to erect the perfect journal you need to practice, practice and practice more.

Whether keeping a journal is something that you want to do to improve your mental health, or you are just looking to start a new hobby, it can without a doubt change your life for the better.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that I don’t have a few other pointers that can help you throughout your journey. Once you have established and clearly developed the first three steps of your writing process, you will be ready to move on to creating content.

Following the below rules will help you better develop your content and bring your words to life.

Rule One: Stick To Interesting Points

Your journal is your own creation and there is good chance that no one else is going to be reading it. This is why it really only needs to make sense to you.

If you wanted to compose it in your own special created language, you have the option of doing so. As long as you understand what you are writing, it doesn’t matter.

Sometimes when I’m journaling, I don’t even bother writing out full sentences. I only write a bulletin points and jot down a few notes about what was exciting or set me off during my day at work. In fact, most of the time, a few words are enough for me to remember the incident.

This not only helps to cut down on time and effort, but it makes it so I do not have any excuse whatsoever to keep a journal. I apply the same concept to my daily exercise routine.

Rule Two: Keeping The Journal In Visible Range

Do you know why people keep books by their toilet? Well, it basically prevents them from having an excuse not to read while they are in the bathroom.

I like to apply this same concept to my journal writing. I always place my notepad right by my nightstand.

This way I can record all my thoughts before turning on the television and indulging in a game show or two before I fall asleep.

Sure, the computer is great due to all the journal applications available, but it is too easy to become distracted by other games and social media.

This is why a regular old notepad works best for me and that is what I will try to stick to until the end of time.

Rule Three: Never Miss Out On A Day

Have you ever known a fitness nut? He or she likes to eat healthy and workout on a daily basis. Missing or skipping a day is like taking God’s name in vain.

Well, I really like to apply this same concept to my journal writing. Sure, it doesn’t hurt to miss a day, but I make it a point to never miss two days in a row.

Don’t stress if you do miss a few days of actually writing in your journal. This is where tape recorders and other smaller notepads can come in handy when you just want to jot down a few thoughts for later recording.

Rule Four: Don’t Be Afraid To Seek Inspiration Elsewhere

Everyone experiences writer’s block at some point, and there’s nothing wrong with this. This is why I always like to use inspirational quotes and poems from some of my favorite writers and poets.

I will even sometimes make it an effort to jot down the entire poem or a favorite verse in my journal.

Some of these I have recalled from memory and some of these I look up, but they give me the inspiration to dig deep within myself and keep going.

One tip I like to give people new to journaling, or are struggling to come up with topics, is to use journaling prompts.

Journaling prompts are questions or topics to give you a starting point. So instead of just free-writing whatever’s on your mind, the prompt gives you some direction. Check out this list of 30 journaling ideas and prompts to get your creative juices flowing.

Rule Five: Journaling Can Help Accomplish Goals

Who says you can’t use your journal to set and accomplish goals? No one, that’s who and if anyone says different they are full of it. That’s actually one of the biggest benefits of journaling in the first place!

Aside from helping you relaxde-stress or uncover the reasons behind your mood, journaling is an amazing way to set and reach your goals.

Whenever you find something you want to accomplish or try in your life, jot it down. This will not only make you more motivated to accomplish the task, but it will ensure that you don’t forget about it.

Start Journaling!

Hopefully, these tips give you a good starting point. But the best advice I can give you is to just start. Buy a cheap journal from Amazon and write. Use prompts to help you along the way and most of all, let your ideas flow!

Additional Resources

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About the author

I'm an avid reader and love anything to do with mindfulness and mental health!

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