When I was a kid, I used to keep a diary where I would religiously write about how my day went, what I did during the day, minor problems or just about anything. I wrote almost every day before going to bed. I have one of those diaries from when I was a kid, and it’s fun to go back and read what I wrote at that time. They’re laughable entries but I still cherish those memories.
My habit of journaling continued until I reached high school. After that, I never journaled (or I’d say, I could never find time to write). I used to buy those fancy and cute journals, but couldn’t even fill five pages of those.
When I started college, I made attempts to get my habit back on track. But I failed terribly! If you flip the pages of my journal, you’ll see the entries on 1st, 2nd, 3rd, of a month and then on 9th, 14th, 18th of that month. I would always tell myself that I’ll start writing daily from the 1st day of X month, which I actually did, but couldn’t continue it as religiously as I did when I was a child.
After my graduation back in 2018, a lot was happening in my life. That desire to write, to pour my heart out came back. I thought, since I’m starting a new chapter, I should document the adventures of life from that time on. So, I went on to buy a cute little journal for myself (which I’m obsessed with!). And started journaling, again!
Initially, I wasn’t that consistent in writing. But this time at least, I didn’t give up on journaling. So, that’s fine! The entries in my journal are not every day but I could write continuously for months, and now it has become a habit. I enjoy writing things in my journal now! I think a habit should not be forced, it should come naturally. And if you love what you do, you’ll never force yourself for it, the passion would make it happen automatically.
Why should I start a journal?
Well, for me it is a creative necessity, a place of exploration and a form of art. Journaling gives me clarity in my thoughts and helps me to focus on more important things in life. Thinking in writing has this magical power of clarifying your thoughts. It’s a great way to declutter your mind and write down all the ideas exploding out of your head.
It’s important to know “why” you wanna start a journal. If you can’t answer this question, you most probably will not be able to keep up with it. So, figure out why YOU want to start a journal, even one strong reason would be enough for you to go a long way.
How should I start a journal?
…by writing just one or two sentences when you feel like, or maybe a word or two! Don’t force yourself to write a whole page in one sitting on day one. You’ll lose interest if you force it. There’s no right way to do it, whatever suits you is the best way.
Make it personal
There’s no need to choose a specific theme for your journal. Make it yours! You can write, draw or rant about anything that crosses your mind. Any ideas, your feelings, poems, gratitude or stories… you can write/draw about anything! Personalize your journal as much as you can, trust me it’s the best way to know who you are and also you can keep a track of your mental health.
Bring your journal everywhere
It’s easy to say things like “I’ll write in the morning before leaving the house” or “I’ll write at night before sleeping”, but it’s difficult to do so. Most of the time we rush out of the house while still having breakfast or binge-watch a Netflix series on the couch and won’t journal. So, it is easy to bring your journal with you, wherever you go and jot down things whenever you find time during the day.
Try prompts journal
If you don’t feel like writing everything on your own, then you can always get a prompts journal, in which you just have to answer the questions, or write a few words summary of the day. That’s also fine! It’s about starting in the first place. And you can start with anything that suits you.
Since every person is different in one or the other way, it’s not necessary that what helped me in developing this habit, will also help you. The following are some suggestions that might help you to get started with journaling.
If you like, you can create a ritual for journaling. Grab a mug of coffee or tea, pick up your favourite “journal – blanket” under which you love to snuggle. Put up your favourite journal – playlist and start writing. You’ll enjoy every bit of it!
Use a journal to prepare the morning…
If you’re a morning person like me, I’m sure you’re going to love writing in the morning. It sets the vibe for the day and I feel so motivated, by just jotting down any ideas, or writing about how I feel that morning. It’s the best way to start the day.
…or you can use a journal to review the day in the evening
If you don’t like to wake up early or don’t feel like writing in the morning, you can do it in the evening before going to bed. Document all your day in the journal and let all your feelings out on the pages. It’ll help you in clarifying thoughts right before you sleep. It’s a good way to de-stress yourself and sleep peacefully.
You can keep a digital journal
Look, the aim is to be self-aware. I love writing on paper because it gives me time to slow down and relax, so I write on the paper. But if you’re not fond of writing on pages, you can download an application which gives you prompts for journaling. Try a few ways of journaling and see what works best for you.
Journaling is a very personal activity. I have seen so many positive changes in myself, ever since I’ve started writing again. I’m so much more aware of myself. I keep track of my mental health through journals. The habit of journaling has helped me a lot in stress management. If I have anything which I can’t share with anybody, I just take my journal out and start writing. Trust me it feels so much better after that.
I hope this would have inspired you in starting a journal. Make your journal a place where you can be yourself and cherish those words. Best of luck!