How to Journal Regularly

Journaling is a practice that dates back to at least the 10th century in Japan.   Writing in a journal gives an outlet for your feelings, ideas and thoughts; this makes it a great way to reduce stress and anxiety by reflecting on the events of the week or the day.  For those among us who want to turn writing into a career, journaling exercises our writing muscles as well! But how do you go about journaling and keeping it as a habit? Here are five tips on how to do so.

1. Don’t worry about structure

When writing in your journal, feel free to do whatever you want to! No one is going to judge your spelling, grammar or length of your journal entry.  Structure is a limitation you only need to apply to yourself if you want to.  This was one of my pitfalls when I tried journaling a few years ago. I would think I needed to write my journal entries as basically mini-essays that were two to three pages long, which does not need to be true! Journal entries can be observations, bullet points, poems or stream of consciousness. The possibilities are endless.

2. Find inspiration in whatever strikes you

Okay, maybe not literally. GIF courtesy of Public Domain Review.

Perhaps someone you know said something to you that affected you, or you saw a great sunrise in the morning. Maybe something exciting happened today, or you ran into an old friend. The possibilities are really endless!  Whatever it is, find something that makes you want to write.

If you want to read more about finding inspiration and avoiding writer’s block, here are a few blog posts on UCWbLing on the topic by Karina S., James N., Kate H. and myself.

3. Set aside a specific time to journal

By setting up a time and/or place to journal, it will be easier to routinize journaling than doing it impromptu. That does not mean you can’t journal when you want to (far from it!), but scheduling your journal time can help make it a habit rather than an occasional activity.

A great time to journal can be before you go to sleep; not only can it help you fall asleep, but it lets you reflect on the day as a whole.

Mark Twain wrote in bed, so why not you?

Mark Twain wrote in bed, so why not you? Image Courtesy of Creative Commons

4.  It will become easier the more you journal

This may sound obvious, but the more you practice something the easier it is to do so. Journaling is no exception. What at first may be weird to do, especially if you are not sure where to begin or what to do can become secondhand quickly. In the words of one Mr. Shia Labeouf, Esq.,  “Just do it!”

Zach_Abrahamson_do_it

He is right! GIF courtesy of Creative Commons.

5. Find prompts that get you fired up to write

Thanks to the power of the internet, one can find hundreds of journal prompts!  If you search for ‘journal prompts,’ you can find many different resources and kinds. Each of those words link to a different website with prompts to help you get started.

Another good way to find a prompt is to just ask a friend for one. Whether it be a word, an experience, or a quotation, they may surprise you with what they give you.

I hope this post gives you interest in writing journals! Have you ever kept a journal or diary? Feel free to talk about it in the comments below. And before I go, here is a journal prompt for you all: a great memory of 2016. Have fun and keep writing!