So you want to start a journal

Journaling is not complex. It is not something that you need to plan out or something you decide that you’re going to start on Monday. Journaling is not fancy, not unattainable, and certainly not strict.

Journaling is simply pouring your heart onto paper. It is a record of your thoughts, and the happenings in your life. It is deciding that you need to let out all of the pent up thoughts in your mind. It is choosing to write when you feel like writing, not because you’ve told yourself you have to.

Journaling comes in phases, depending on where you’re at in life. At one time I wrote every single day, sometimes twice a day. Then there was times I wrote in my journal every other day, then once a week. Right now? I’m writing in my journal about every two weeks or so. Because that’s what I have time for at this season in my life. But that doesn’t mean I’ll choose to stop writing in it altogether, just because I’m not writing consistently everyday anymore.

When I look back in years to come, I’ll be happy I still wrote, and kept a record here and there. A few pages now and then is better than none at all.

Journal writing is not a chore. And if you make it seem that way for you, you will cease to enjoy the purpose of it: therapeutic peace.

And a record of your life to look back on.

So if you want to start keeping a journal, just do it. Write a page today. Heck, write just a sentence even. And then don’t write again until next month– or write tomorrow.

It’s your journal.

Don’t have a journal to write in? You don’t need to spend a large amount of money on one. You don’t need a fancy one. (Though I will say that if you find one that you think is beautiful and inspires you to write in it, by all means– grab it.)

You can find one at a dollar store, or for a couple bucks on amazon. And I’ve actually seen ones at some that are quite nice. It can be simple (like the little notebooks we used in school), or it can have a pretty design.

Just start.

How about you? Do you journal?

Do you want to start? Click here to see a previous post I wrote about getting into the habit of journaling.

4 Ways to Keep the Habit of Journal Writing

If you’ve ever wanted to keep a journal, and wished that you were able to stick with it, this post is for you. #3 was a big one for me.

My diary. That’s what I called it when I was a little girl. It had tones of browns and cream colours that made up a darling photo of a cat and dog on the front. It was small and square, and it fit perfectly into the little hideaway place I discovered in a hole in the side of my mattress. It was delicately kept secret with the little padlock attached to its side. I honestly didn’t think anyone could open it; my secrets were safe.

I wrote in two pages of it. I stored all of my current secrets on those two pages, from the boy I thought was cute, to how I wanted to write my own newspaper. And then I forgot all about that little diary. It collected dust inside my mattress for a year or two, until I rediscovered it, ripped the embarrassing written pages out of it, and tried to start my daily entries again. This was a routine that I continued every few years throughout my childhood, teen years, and early adulthood. I could never seem to write something that I later wouldn’t be embarrassed by. I also could never seem to stick to the habit of writing in it everyday. You see, I’ve always had an ‘all or nothing’ personality, so when I noticed I wasn’t remembering to write everyday, that was my queue to quit. What’s the point, I would think to myself.

Fast forward to three years ago. I was working where I’m still presently working, at a Seniors Village. One day, much the same as any other regular day on shift, I was assisting one particular elderly gentlemen in his suite. To me, he looked as if he had walked off the set of Leave it to Beaver. He had the perfect little moustache, that sat below the perfect little spectacles on the bridge of his nose. His eyes were kind and sweet like honey, and the delicate wrinkles on his face each told their own emotional story. His perfectly placed suspenders held up his well ironed trousers, and his neatly placed bow tie sat just right, cozy under his chin. He was the classic gentleman. And he journaled. He showed me a small portion of his collection of memories in book form.

He had been journaling every day since he was a young man. My journal addiction is his fault. It was that day, when my eyes fell upon his journals, and my ears heard the music of how he wrote his soul and his day to day life and memories on those pages. It was in that moment that I realized how incredible it would be if I could do that, not just for myself, but for my daughter too, to read in the future.

This attempt at journaling was a success. I’ve stuck with it since then, and have filled eleven journals since that day three years ago. I began with a completely different perspective than I had during my previous attempts at keeping journals.

If I could sum it up, here are my top four ways that I kept the habit, and successfully kept journaling in my life:

  1. I always have a journal with me.

I try to bring my journal wherever I go. I like to make sure that it’s a good size that’s easy for transporting in my purse or bag, that way it’s always on hand when I have a window of time to write.

2. Inconsistency is okay.

Don’t ever make journaling feel like a chore or obligation to you. You can write an entry everyday, once a week, once a month, or even just once a season or year. Just write when you feel like it, and don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t written in a long time. Just pickup where you left off, don’t ever quit because you haven’t written in a long time! I have times when I don’t write for a couple weeks, and I have times when I’m writing entries everyday or even twice a day. You make the rules. Actually, there are no rules.

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3. Write as if anyone will be reading it.

This was a big one for me, because I so often in the past have ripped up journals to shreds or even burned them out of potential embarrassment. I avoid ugly negativity, while still speaking truth. While ideally, I don’t always want all of my entries wide open for everyone to read, it’s not the end of world if someone does. And one of the main reasons that I keep journals is for my children in the future, and for other future family, so I keep that in mind as I write.

4. Choose pretty journals.

Make sure that you purchase a journal that you absolutely adore, and that you can’t wait to write in. For you, that might be black and classic, leather, colourful, or covered in flowers. There are so many out there. Choose one that inspires you to write in it.

You won’t regret starting and keeping a journal. It is so good for the soul, and so valuable for your future self. What are you waiting for?

Sincerely + gratefully,

J