3 Tips for keeping a journal

I’ve been writing in a journal since first grade. I have documented aspects of my life since I knew how to write. It’s an amazing practice even if I didn’t realize how powerful it is until now. Being able to look back and read my thoughts from different points in my life has been so enlightening. Its also interesting to see my thought patterns and trends have not changed very much… I still question my purpose in life and yearn to make something of my life! There is some comfort in knowing I have felt the same feelings all throughout my life… and maybe that means I don’t have to find the solutions right away… I can keep those thoughts as part of my story. They can’t be solved. They need to be a part of my narrative because those thoughts make me who I am.

Journaling is a huge part of my life. Some people love to write and the thought of keeping a journal is easy and natural. Others may wish they could write but don’t. It should feel natural. I do believe that writing is one of the best ways for us to explore our thoughts and feelings. It also helps to clarify challenges. Just writing it out can shed light on the true issues. Plus you get a record of the thought process in front of you. I don’t always know what I am going to write but if I give myself some space to sit with a pen the things that are swirling in my head always seem to come out.

So here are 3 things that help me maintain my practice of writing in a journal.

  1. Write to a specific person to help get your ideas flowing. Sometimes I am writing to myself so I use that voice, I am writing to my future self to remember a specific situation or feeling in the present. I sometimes sign my entries with my name as if I just wrote a note or a letter. Other times I think about writing to a best friend… I give tons of details and explore how I feel about it (I especially love reading about my early relationship with Aaron- I was crazy about that guy but too afraid to admit it). Other times I am just writing to society as a whole, I imagine that someone in the future finds my journal and gets a glimpse into how life used to be.
  2. Find a journal that you love. Make sure it feels good in your hands. You want to open it and flip through the pages It’s convenient to carry in your purse or bag and easy to bring with you. Do you like blank open pages or do you prefer lines? I use both but recently have enjoyed blank pages. I can doodle and create drawings or make lists on large blank spaces. Or I can change the size of my writing. Usually after a few glasses of wine I like to scrawl big across the page and let my thoughts flow.
  3. Give yourself prompts. You can download a list of writing prompts here. Make a list of your dreams or goals. Ask yourself a simple question “what was the best part of today” or “how did I make someone feel special today” or “describe something in this room” or “I am grateful for”. Sometimes I just set a timer and free write for 20 minutes without any guidance or direction and let whatever emerges just appear on the pages.

Keeping this blog has been a good outlet for me to explore my thoughts, expand my knowledge on topics that I want to know more about and also problem solve in my own life… if I need some clarity around a challenge in my life I usually start by writing about it. My friend Jayme over at journeyfoot always prescribes a free write to start any problem solving process. It really does open the gates to let the waterfall of thoughts cascade. So get out the old pen and paper and start writing!

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