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

A letter to 12 year old me.

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Dear Twelve,

I’ve not forgotten you, do not worry.

I remember that day you chose to wear that t-shirt. You know— the one with the giant head of a pig on the front, wearing a straw hat and chewing on a strand of hay.

You wore it without thinking anything of it. You liked it. You liked the way it fell just past your bottom. It was comfortable. And it fit just right.

But you didn’t like that comment. This age can be so tough, dear Twelve. I know you know that. And I know you remember those words, because they’re burned into your memory— the memory that we share.

Thirteen didn’t forget it either, nor Fourteen, Fifteen, and Sixteen definitely didn’t. Sixteen couldn’t handle it. She let it break her.

Can you blame it all on that one comment? Of course not. I know it was a combination of things. A mix of words, actions, looks, and events. But this one comment is an example that certain memories can stick with you, and can have a huge effect on your life…if you let them.

Those words were something like, hey Jennifer, you wore yourself on your shirt today. Followed by a chuckle.

Lovely.

Now, Twelve, I know I didn’t have to remind you of those seemingly simple words. You remember them well. In fact you laughed along with them. You kept yourself safe with the shield of your laughter. But behind the shield, another little piece of your self esteem crumbled.

I need to remind you that they are only words. And the person who said them had no intention for you to hold them close for years.

You are more than the negative thoughts and words of others. Let yourself shine. Let yourself be you. You are beautiful, not based on others. You are beautiful because of your heart, and the beauty you see in everything. Take care of you, Twelve, and everything else will fall into place.