Every time I tell someone I keep a journal, they are surprised. Many people think journaling is either boring, a waste of time, or too tedious. Some people don’t know what to write about, or feel awkward recording their day-to-day life on paper. There is no perfect method of keeping a journal, and it might not be for you! However, the benefits of journaling are clear and wonderful. It serves as a form of therapy in itself, can be great self-care, and for me, is a key part of my nightly routine. Whether you’ve been journaling for years and are seeking some inspiration, or have never tried it out but want to start, this post will take you through some of the best ways to journal and how to stick with it.
Perhaps the most common across Pinterest, bullet journaling often takes on the form of artistic monthly spreads complete with goal, mood, & habit trackers along with to-do lists and calendars. I’ve never tried out bullet journaling, but only because it’s never been something I thought I could do well. If you love to doodle and be creative, this could be a great way for you to keep track of appointments, reflect on your day, and remember how you were feeling!
I enjoy daily journaling because it lets you preserve the little things and memories of day-to-day life, but also to verbalize your feelings, joys, and worries. Looking back over the months or years of memories is so much fun, and also prompts reflection. Whether you write a page or a line, keeping record of your life is important and relaxing.
One Line a Day Journaling
This method is perfect for the busy person who can’t bare to add more writing to their day. Jot down one line (or a few) that summarize how you’ve been feeling or what you did. Many of these journals come in the form of 5-year-journals, which seem overwhelming at first. But really, you only need to write a sentence or two a day everyday. If you have trouble getting a habit to stick, I think this method of journaling would be beneficial.
While I don’t explicitly keep a gratitude journal, throughout my own writings I have scattered “happy lists”. Basically, I’ll list everything-big or small, that made me happy. When I say everything, I mean everything. From the cinnamon rolls in the dining hall, to a compliment from a stranger, to shopping, to getting an A on a hard paper, to being outside at night, I write it all down. These are my favorite things to journal as well as to read back over.
If happy lists aren’t your thing, you could go for a traditional gratitude journal instead. Write down three things you are grateful for everyday. You can expand that number if you want, but three is a good place to start. It’s attainable and you can build off of it! You’ll notice yourself being more conscious of what’s around you and more grateful for the life you have.
This is one of the more untraditional methods of journaling, but I love it! Love snapping photos of the little things that happen during the day? I’m talking your latte, your dog being adorable, the study setup in your dorm, pictures of your braids or your nail polish or your adventure to an orchard. Create a photo journal, either by printing out photos and arranging them on a wall or in a book, or using an online platform.
Tips for Journaling: How to Stick With It
The best way to start a habit? Actually do it. Set aside 10-15 minutes each night before bed or each morning and just write. You don’t have to be an award-winning author for this, or worry about your words fitting together just right. All you need is a notebook and a pen (+ maybe a cup of tea). Don’t be hard on yourself if you’re too tired one night or just don’t feel like writing! This happens to me all the time. Your journaling should make you feel good, and it’s for you-not for anyone else. You are the one who calls the shots!
Use a notebook and pen you love.
It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I am a big stationery fan. I have a little bit of a weakness for purchasing new pens, highlighters, and way more notebooks than I probably will ever fill. However, once you find a pen, pencil, or journal that you love, you’ll find it a lot more motivating to open up and get writing each day. My current journal is this beautiful rose gold journal from Nordstrom (unfortunately, it’s currently sold out, but I’ll link it anyway!) The best journaling pens I use are the Pilot G2 .07 gel pens. They write so smoothly and I love using them. Pro-tip: If you use relatively expensive pens, check Amazon! You can order them in bulk sizes and for much cheaper.
If you don’t like the way you’re doing things, change it up.
I don’t write 3 pages every day, but sometimes, I have a lot to say. Some days, I don’t do ‘daily journaling’ at all and instead write out a massive happy list. Sometimes, instead of journaling period, I just re-read old journal pages or work on editing photos for VSCO. Listen to what your mind and soul are saying. Journaling should be something you enjoy and want to do, and if that’s not the case, make a change.
Consider using prompts if you get stuck.
Prompts are basically little sparklers to light inspiration and passion within you. Whether you’ve got writer’s block or just feel a little monotonous in your journaling, prompts can help you refresh your outlook, rediscover who you are and why you’re on this journey, and have a little fun. Pinterest and Instagram are filled with journaling prompts. I created a Pinterest board for journaling which you can check out here!
Share with others (if you want)
This is 100% a personal preference, but sometimes I like showing those closest to me the journaling I’ve done. Oftentimes I talk a lot about how much I love them and write about family trips and adventures, so I think it’s nice to share that. However, journaling is a very personal thing and you can definitely just keep everything you do within those pages to yourself.
Have you tried out journaling? Which method is your favorite?