Tips for Keeping a Journal

One of my favorite ways to practice self care is to keep a journal. (If you’ve been on my blog before, you know I am a huge advocate for self care. Check out this post, and this one for more!) However, keeping a journal was always sort of difficult task for me because I would either forget about writing, lose interest, or not be truthful with my words and with myself. I felt self-conscious to myself, if that makes any sense? If I had a dollar for every journal I started but never finished, I would have many, many dollars.

Something that I hoped to start in 2021 was an actual journalling habit that could become part of my daily routine. I have to be honest, it was really hard to start! After my first entry I went an entire month or so without writing a thing. Now I write about four times a week and it’s a good balance. I am glad I began journalling and I genuinely think that it has contributed positively to my mental health and self-care routine.

With all of that being said, here are my tips for starting (and keeping up with!) journalling:

1. Find a journal that you like

Okay, maybe I am more attracted to aesthetics than other people, but I cannot get into the groove of writing if I am not using materials that I like. My favorite place to shop for journals is Barnes & Noble. They always seem to have a huge selection of books to choose from and everything is reasonably priced. My favorite aesthetic is dark, rustic, and kind of earthy. This is the journal I have and use now! This same rule applies to other materials you might use when journalling, too. Is anyone else picky about the pens or pencils they use? Get some writing utensils that are perfect for you! I promise that these small details are a difference.

2. Don’t force yourself to write

Hey, sometimes writers are just not in the mood to write (hence the whole writer’s-block-thing). That is totally fine and normal!.. and frustrating. However, don’t force yourself to write if you have nothing to say. When the mood finally strikes, get it all down on paper.

3. …but don’t forget that you have a journal, either

This is a huge problem for me! I will not be in the mood to write and then the next thing I know a whole month has passed and I haven’t written a thing. And that month is usually filled with emotions, events, conversations, etc., that are all worth remembering and reflecting on. To combat this issue I usually keep my journal in a place that I can see it often. If I have the visual reminder that it is there, I am more likely to write.

I also like to keep my journal writing as a sort of habit that becomes routine after a while. If I write a few days a week, it will be strange not to write for long periods of time.

4. Don’t keep it out in the open, though

I feel like so many of these tips are coming with warning labels attached, haha! So, while I do keep my journal in a place where I can easily see it daily, it is never in a place that others can easily find it. Journals are private and should be kept that way. No one needs to know the private thoughts or concerns that pop into your head. We all deserve a level of privacy that should be respected.

5. Be honest in your words

This is another aspect of journalling that I struggle with all of the time. It probably sounds crazy, but I become self-conscious even with myself. I always feel like my brain should be home to some profound ideas when in reality my thoughts are very stream-of-consciousness-esque (this is not a word and I am well aware of it, haha!). I just let my thoughts flow and reflect on things I am studying, observing, feeling, etc. It was William Wordsworth who said that poetry was “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings… recollected in tranquility,” and I like to apply this method to my journalling.

There is not some kind of rule about what someone has to write in a journal, either. You can keep a journal about plants that you find outside. It really doesn’t matter. Just have fun with it, and be honest with yourself in your words.

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