Although journaling can be a life-changing habit, many people are intimidated by the idea of regularly writing in a journal. “I wouldn’t know what to write,” they might think. “I don’t have time to write every day.” Or perhaps even, “Why? I’m not a very good writer.” But in fact, anyone can take advantage of this powerful and versatile tool for self-improvement. Writing well isn’t necessary, neither is composing lengthy passages. And if you don’t know what to write about, you’ll find plenty of prompts online. Journaling can help you step back from the minutiae of everyday life and get to know yourself better. It can even be therapeutic. No matter what your age or writing skills, use the tips below if you’re wondering how to start journaling.
How to Start Journaling
Create a designated journal.
Notice that I didn’t say “buy” a journal. If you want to buy a journal, that’s great! But if you’d rather not, you could create a document on a computer, send e-mails to yourself, or even use random scraps of paper. Whatever method you choose, if you’d like to learn how to start journaling, your first step will be figuring out where to write.
Get over your fear of the blank page.
Do you dread the idea of staring down at a blank page each day? To get over this fear, choose something simple to start your daily entries. You could write the date, for example, or choose a basic title that refers to what you’d like to write about that day. Some people even scribble or doodle in the margins of the page to break the ice.
Decide what you want to write about.
This is one of the beautiful things about journaling. You get to decide the structure of it. Will you write long passages, short passages, or vary your entries? Will you write about a different topic each day or stick with the same format (for example, you might write about something you’re grateful for each day)? Will you use a list of online prompts to guide your writing? When you’re getting started, it’s helpful to make a plan – but don’t worry, you can change the plan whenever you like! The following are some common daily journaling prompts:
- What’s on your mind today?
- What are you grateful for?
- What one word describes today, and why?
- What did you do today?
- How did you feel today?
Deciding what to write about is undoubtedly the hardest part about journaling, but it’s also the most fun! Be creative. The world is your oyster!
Write with abandon.
Don’t agonize over what to write. Don’t judge yourself. Don’t get bogged down with edits. Remember that this journal is for you and (unless you choose otherwise) you are the only one who will read it. But you also aren’t obligated to read it! The important thing is to get your words down on paper, so encourage yourself to write freely and openly.
Get in the habit.
Creating a habit is hard work, so we encourage you to commit to a journaling practice for a specified period of time (such as a month) to establish it as a part of your routine. Consistency is very helpful when building habits, so try to journal at the same time and in the same place every day. To make the habit as easy as possible for yourself, keep your journal in a handy place. You might also find it helpful to pair journaling with an established habit in your routine, such as eating breakfast or reading before bed. Every time you eat breakfast (or read before bed), pull out your journal and write for a bit. Before you know it, you’ll have dozens of journal entries behind you.
Have you always wanted to create a journal that you could look back on and reminisce about? There’s no time like the present! Simply grab a journal (or a laptop) and start writing.
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