Journaling is a conversation, not with others but with the self. When you write in a journal the words aren’t there for anyone’s eyes but yours. This makes journal writing unique.
Generally, when we write something, we have an audience in mind. A note for a loved one, a letter for someone far away, an email for a colleague etc. Books of any genre are targeted to a specific audience with a particular purpose. Magazines and newspapers are written to inform or to entertain. When we put pen, or pencil, to paper, we have a specific audience and purpose in mind.
Journaling, on the other hand, is writing as an expression of our innermost thoughts, feelings and emotions. We write, capturing a snapshot in time. A space for self-expression with no boundaries or borders.
“Writing in a journal reminds you of your goals and of your learning in life. It offers a place where you can hold a deliberate, thoughtful conversation with yourself.”
My journal has been indispensable during the Covid19 pandemic. It is the place where I have expressed my fears, joys and everything in between. Thoughts I would not have voiced elsewhere. Sometimes it feels as though writing in my journal helps maintain my sanity when all around me is falling to pieces.
How to Get Started
There are no rules to writing a journal, we can choose to put our thoughts on paper or in an online blog. Sometimes a blank piece of paper can be daunting if you’re new to journaling and you’re not quite sure where to begin. If you find it difficult to get started, maybe begin with writing about what you’re grateful for.
Let Thoughts Flow Freely
If you’ve bought a brand-new notebook begin by scribbling, making notes or put a coffee stain on the inside cover. This will free you up and enable you to write outside of the margins and without editing. Just let the words flow and forget about trying to make it perfect. Journaling is not about perfection on the page.
To be effective, writing a journal needs to become a habit, a little bit like the gym. It’s no good buying a membership if you don’t step on the treadmill. Developing any new positive habit can be challenging in the beginning but in the long run it is so worth the effort.
My favourite time to write is first thing in the morning, preferably before the rest of the world begins to stir. I write about three pages or spend half an hour. Others prefer late evening and put their world to rights just before bed.
You need to figure out when and how much works for you.
For Your Eyes Only
Whether you journal online in the form of a private blog or use the traditional pen on paper it’s important to keep it private. Your innermost private thoughts are not for public consumption. A private journal enables us to be honest with ourselves. The privacy allows us to express our feelings and thoughts without worrying about what other people think of us.
A journal doesn’t have to be just words. You can be as adventurous as you like! Your journal pages can include anything from doodles and colouring pages to stickers and photos. Give yourself permission to be creative on the page.
I’m passionate about journaling and I rarely miss a day, but it took me some time to make journaling a habit.
If you enjoy writing but you’re not quite sure what to write about then Reflections cards are great as writing prompts.If you’re new to journaling or just want an opportunity to reflect on a daily basis then Being Me, a five-year diary with 365 different questions is an ideal start.
“I am anxious, and it soothes me to express myself here. It is like whispering to one’s self and listening at the same time.”
Mina Murray in her journal in Dracula, by Bram Stoker