Sometimes, I keep a journal. I would classify myself as an elite-amateur journalist. I am not a professional, but having kept journals sporadically since 1st grade, I am on the high end of amateur status. Basically, I am pretty close to professional status when it comes to journal writing, so pay attention.
You Should Journal!
I think everyone should give journaling a try. Why? Journaling fosters creativity, helps with problem solving, boosts self-confidence, improves writing, records history, and has zero rules. Not to mention, journals provide a non-judgmental space for the expression of thoughts and feelings.
Bonus Health Benefits of Journaling According to Miss Nutralicious
Clarified thinking Writing requires thinking. Journaling forces organization and brings clarity to the thought process.
Reduced stress Writing takes time. As time passes, problems seem less intense and easier to tackle.
Strengthened identity Journal entries nurture honesty. If a journal remains private, the writer will not be influenced by peers. This can improve decision making skills too.
Decreased Use of Illegal Substances It is probably difficult to do illegal drugs while journaling. I can’t verify this, because I have never done drugs. However, it is a known fact that writing occupies an entire hand. Doing drugs becomes a lot easier when two hands are available (I am pretty certain). It’s easy enough to put two and two together; journaling decreases drug use (probably).
JOURNALING IS FUN AND EXCITING! YAHOOOOOO!
Now that we’ve gotten all of the facts and yahoos out of the way, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty and start journaling.
How to Start Journaling in 3 Easy Steps
Over the years, I have used a mix of diaries, fancy journals, sophisticated journals, notebooks, and word processing programs to document my thoughts.
If you like to draw, purchase a journal without lined paper so that you have room for sketches. If you are wordy, look for a thick journal with big pages. If your hand cramps when you write, consider keeping a digital journal in a word processing program. Shop for your favorite journal and make it work!
Ok, cool. Now that we have narrowed down our journal options, let’s discuss writing utensils.
Most of my journal entries are handwritten. In the past I used pencils (extra sharp, #2), now I prefer pens. I tend to be picky about which type of pen I use, but my pickiness relates to ink flow, not ink color. Sometimes using a dozen different colored pens in a notebook can be artsy. Pen, pencil, crayon, marker, feather quill; take your pick and start writing.
2) Writing Style
The best thing about keeping a journal is that you can write about ANYTHING. It’s simple.
Need more structure? Ok, here’s a timeline of the different writing styles I have used in my journaling career. Pick one, or create your own.
The Younger Years: “Dear Diary…” When I first started journaling, I wrote 100% dear diary style. For an example, I will now publish my first diary entry for the entire internet audience to view:
College: In college, my journals consisted of a combination of all of the above, plus a lot of stream of conscious style writing. These journals include some of the most random ramblings I have ever encountered.
Beyond School: Currently I have two notebooks; one leather-bound and one spiral notebook. I also have a Microsoft word document saved to my desktop that is full of journal entries (sometimes I’m too lazy to get off the couch and find a paper journal).
I also keep a digital vacation journal. Here’s an excerpt from the summer of 2013:
3) Keep It Fresh
Even the best journalist can hit a dry spell. I have been journaling a long time, Journaling helps me keep my sanity! This is why I have a whole bag of tricks to put into action whenever writing gets tough.
Here’s my favorite methods for keeping things fresh.
Mix it up: Write in different styles, change your formats, try new pens, and don’t let things get stale.
Alternate between typing and writing: Do you have a lot on your mind? Try typing to get your thoughts out quicker. Or, maybe the motions of handwriting will make you feel better. Think of all the aggression you can release by handwriting an explanation point (pound out that dot!) compared to typing an explanation point. Switch it up!
Write a story: If you have had a boring week, make something up. No one is going to call the journaling police if your journal isn't 100% factual.
Write stream of thought: Sit down, grab a blank piece of paper, start a stopwatch, and write for 10 minutes. Write anything that comes to mind and bounce from one thought to the next if that is how your mind works. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar. The stopwatch thing sounds horrible to you? Then have a page number goal. Don’t stop writing until you have filled three pages.
Write a letter: Write to family, friends, or fictional characters. Mail the letter, or don’t.
Write a list: I swear, at least 4% of my journal entries start as lists.
Share a journal entry with a trusted friend: Sometimes, sharing a journal with an audience can change your perspective. Ask a positive, encouraging, open minded friend to read a journal entry. Then, discuss the topic. This can be really refreshing.
Answer a journal entry: If you write a lot of questions in your journals, find an old journal, pretend it was written by someone else, and answer the questions.
Write a song, or an entire album: I have done this, and it is only a matter of time until I win a Grammy Award.
Write a poem: Maybe you are a poet and you don’t even know it.
There it is folks! Three easy steps for starting a journal. Start writing, and have fun!
Questions: If you journal, why? What is your writing style? How do you keep things fresh? Do you share your journals with anyone? (Blogging is the first time my writing has ever had an audience. It’s weird!)