The average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those thousands of thoughts, 80% were negative, and 95% were the same repetitive thoughts as the day before. Imagine if you had a tool to help you process that.. imagine a journal or notebook where you can write down your thoughts and unpack your thought processes. Imagine the clarity and perspective you might gain by writing some thoughts down. Just be giving words to a thought; you are challenging, articulating, reworking why you think what you think and trust me - it's bloody profound. Let's look at some journaling tips and techniques to help you do precisely this.
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All journal writers keep a journal for their reason(s). They do it to rework complex thoughts, manifest goals and express what they are feeling into words for clarity, self-awareness, health, and happiness. The list of reasons is endless, and it's endless because it is personal to you.
But are you getting as much joy and benefit out of journalling as you can? If you think yes, fantastic! Keep doing what you're doing, kiddo. If you're unsure or want to elevate your self-reflection process, I have some tips that I have found beneficial, and perhaps you might, too.
The ideas listed below can help you re-evaluate your current journaling goals and expand on them and take you to the next level of your practice. Happy journaling!
Some of this information might be old hat to some of you. Maybe some of you are total newbies, and this is your first introduction to 'what to do', but either way - take whatever resonates with you and make it yours. The more personal you make your journaling practice, the more likely you will stick to the habit you are creating.
I know what you might be thinking - ugggh, I just want to write in a book, mmkay? Sure! Go nuts, my friend! But these ideas might help make it more fun, more connected, special. I mean, let's face it, who isn't about a special bit of self-care, am I right? So buckle up, and let's see what you might want to do in preparation for your journaling journey.
Find supplies you LOVE
How are you going to write without a pen and some paper? I get massively excited when I go stationary shopping as I-LOVE-PENS! I do. Massively. So I use this to my advantage... I go to a few of my favourite craft/hobby/stationery shops and BROWSE. Hard. I pick pens up, write with them, feel the pages of the paper in the notebooks I am drawn to, and do this for so long the staff have asked me before if I am ok. Yes, thanks, just in HEAVEN.
So take your time. Make sure what you're choosing feels right to you at this moment in time. Are you journaling for perspective on joy? Maybe something bright leaps out at you - listen to it. To process emotions, and you see a moon and star covered pen? Grab it. Get two, one for home and one for your bag. Listen to what your soul tells you it needs and lean into it.
These are currently my favourite journaling tools:
Make time to write every day.
Maybe it's just me, but when I get told I have to 'build a habit', I instantly get cross that someone is telling me to take away the fun by making my task have boundaries. Silly, right?! But that's just how my mind works. So, I trick it.
How? I break it down into smaller chunks. So, I might tell myself that I'll just write a title for now and then maybe a little sentence to start with, and if I'm feeling it, I'll keep going. If I'm not, I'll stop. There is nothing worse than forcing yourself to do something as you just won't do it in the long term, no matter how 'good' it is for you.
Sometimes I don't think I have anything worth writing about. Sometimes I can't bring myself to use my lovely new journal until I feel confident to use it 'properly. So, more tricks for the little brain of mine.
- I use my favourite pen to write out my shopping list physically - no digital list for me!
- I use scrap paper until I feel ready to write in my journal.
- I write down ideas of what I might want to start journaling about.
- I put my journal and pens in a place where I can see them, so I know what I am trying to achieve.
The journaling habit is easy for a day or two, until you forget. Schedule time with yourself to make sure you don’t forget. If nothing else, this journaling tip is important!
What type of journaling do you want to do?
As I mentioned above, there are many different reasons for getting into journaling, so it might be a good exercise to sit and think about your 'why. Once you know why you want to journal, it might make it easier to pick a theme of your content. Some themes that you might not have considered might be:
- Stream of Consciousness Writing
- A Daily Journal
- Gratitude Journaling
- Travel Journaling
- Bullet Journaling
- Art Journaling
- Nature Journaling
- Creative Journaling
Whatever the theme of your journal, don't forget you can always mix it up once you get going - maybe use different coloured pens for different headings of different types of a journal entry - mix and match!
Getting started with journal writing
Now that we have spent some time getting familiar with what we are journaling for and have found some fantastic stationery, let's get to it. I've made a handy little list of some tips that I think might help you get going:
Commit to journaling every day
The more effort you put into this, the more rewards you will get out of it - I promise! Like anything, consistency is what we are after. Consistently show up for yourself and make time for this practice.
Stray away from 'normal'
This is your journal, so who says it must be neat or make sense to anyone other than you?! Feel like doodling? Go for it. Want to list only words instead of full-on prose? Awesome, I love that for you. You do what feels right for you and your journaling time.
Think about your why... and your why NOT.
What does this mean? I'll tell you.
Why are you choosing to journal? Reaaaaally think about it. Think about the positives that it will bring to you - improving your emotional and mental health? Reduce stress? Identify triggers for your anxiety? These are significant benefits and reasons for why you should journal. But sometimes, this isn't enough, and this is where the 'why not' comes in.
So if you DON'T journal... maybe your anxiety will get worse and keep you from being as social as you want, or your stress continues to cause physical effects like headaches, restless nights, etc.
Think of the consequences if you don't journal, and you might just find the right type of motivation. (I realise this feels quite heavy, but you're doing this for you - you are worth spending the time on!)
(Re) Igniting your Journaling spark
We all start things with the best intentions as we felt the motivation to Do The Thing, and that led us to (in this instance) journaling. However, as we have mentioned, motivation can quickly wear off, and you need to think about why you are doing this.
We all know that consistency is vital - with exercise, diet, meditation... everything. Journaling is no different. You might see short-term benefits when you start, but without regularly journaling, you might miss out on the longer-term benefits you are looking for. With that in mind... do you need to re-ignite your journaling spark? If yes, let's look at some ideas on how you might achieve this:
Find new reasons to journal!
Your original ideas are still great, but maybe you need some new ones to give you a little more Oomph? Maybe take five minutes and think if you can find reasons for:
- Self awareness
- Clarity on daily life
- Creative outlet
- Processings feelings
Re-read your previous journal entries
This is a powerful technique to get you back into writing; past you shows you why and what you wanted to write about, and inspiration might be lifted from this! Take a look at a couple of posts from a few months, or even years, back and sit with how that makes you feel. If you've never journaled before, think about how journaling might make you feel.
This is quite a cathartic activity - you can see what trials you might have overcome or re-live something extraordinary that you may have forgotten over time. Memories are powerful, and sometimes it's nice to revisit them for many reasons.
Find a journaling community
Use the power that is social media to find like-minded souls - I am part of many, and there are so many times where I have been inspired, humbled and taught by others. Sharing your experiences or asking questions can elevate your journey.
I love creating beautiful art on my pages, but sometimes my brain gets stuck. So, I look online! Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit... there is a whole world of inspiration at your fingertips.
And if no group takes your fancy...why not create one yourself? Ooo, let me know if you do; I'll join!
Mix it up!
Sometimes, no matter how hard we try... we get stuck. This can be especially true when cultivating a habit, such as journaling. If you find yourself blocked, here are some ideas that might help:
- If you usually write in the morning - try the afternoon!
- Change the topic you are writing about
- Write when you are feeling a different emotion or are in a different mood. You might need to let off steam and write about any stress or negative thought you might have.
- Add a character sketch or random doodles if you usually only use words.
- Try a bit of creative writing or expressive writing - poetry anyone?
- If you really don’t know what to write, I love using a journal prompt or two.
All of these might give you the boost you're after to get back into it. Give it a go, tell me what happens in the comments below 🙂
Now that we have covered a lot of tips and different techniques, pick up that pen and see where the next 30 minutes takes you.