How to Start Journaling
I receive a lot of questions about how to start a journal and also how to turn it into a regular habit, so I really hope this blog post helps to get you started. Also, you might want to take a look at my post about why journaling is so good for you, to help keep you inspired.
Find a Style and Method that Works for You
My first piece of advice is to find a style and method of journaling that suits your needs and personal tastes. There are so many different types of journal that you could consider keeping and it's very easy to be tempted by all of them. However, take a few moments to think about how much time you are realistically going to be able to devote to journaling and whether you prefer documenting through writing, creativity or perhaps a combination of both.
It's absolutely fine to try out lots of different methods whilst you work out what is best for you, but don't think that you need to try and keep up with all of them. I have tried plenty of styles that I thought I would love, but they became much too time-consuming so I decided to let them go, for something that fitted more easily into my life.
There is No Right Way to Keep a Journal
It's really important to remember that there are no right or wrong ways to keep a journal. There are plenty of videos on YouTube which claim to know the "best" journaling method, or "the only type of journal you will ever need" but I really don't buy into this idea.
Not only are we all different, but what we might need from our journal can quite easily change from day to day. Some days I want to write and write, to empty my mind of troubling thoughts. On other days, I want to spend some time getting creative and documenting happy moments. There are also plenty of times that I use my journal as a personal development tool, to help identify where I am holding myself back and what steps I can take to move forwards. So please don't limit yourself or compare your journal to anybody else's. The only important thing is that it works for you.
Consider Starting Small
One thing I've noticed is that people often start off with a huge sense of enthusiasm for journaling and spend many hours setting up all kinds of wonderful journals and spreads. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but if that initial enthusiasm wanes a little, or life just gets in the way, it can leave you feeling like you've "failed" if you can't keep up with it all.
This is why I would recommend starting off small, making sure it feels manageable for you and then increase and adapt your journaling as it becomes more familiar to you.
Build it into Your Routine
Something I have found really helpful with my own journaling practice, is to build it into my daily routine. By this, I mean that you could try tagging it onto something that you already do every day. Could you write in your journal whilst you enjoy your first warm drink of the day, or when dinner is cooking, or once the children have gone to bed?
It can be really useful to consider the periods when you are likely to get a little quiet time every day. If you can build your journaling into that period it's far more likely to become a regular part of your routine.
What do you Want to Get from Journaling?
It's so beneficial to consider what you would like to get from journaling before you start. This can help stop you from getting side-tracked and trying out too many styles that aren't quite right for you.
Do you want to use your journal for getting more organised, documenting daily life, as a personal development tool, for venting, for reflecting, for getting creative or something completely different? Keeping a journal can help with all of these areas, but it's great if you can get clear on what would be most valuable to you. Over time, you can build up a journaling routine which helps with all of these different parts, but only if you wish to do so.
Consider Using Quotes or Prompts as a Springboard
If you ever struggle with what you want to write about, or how you want to tackle a certain subject, you might find journal prompts or quotes really useful. I share journal prompts over in my journaling club each month and I also wrote a blog post all about using quotes in your journal.
I find these so useful in my own journal practice, as they often encourage me to think and write about topics in a new way.
Exercise your Creativity?
Do you prefer to express yourself through colours and texture, rather than words? If so, art journaling might be perfect for you. Hidden underneath these layers in my art journal are all sorts of things that were troubling me, which I gradually covered up, step by step, along with a quick reminder to myself, "be bold, be courageous, be free".
Note: get used to mistakes! I misspelt one of the words in this journal spread and it's something I do regularly. Please don't let this take way from your joy of keeping a journal.
One thing I find really useful is to regularly review which types of journaling methods are working for me. Just because you start in one particular way doesn't mean you are stuck with it. The journals that I keep now are very different to those I used a few years ago, but they all served a purpose at different points in my life. Just as you change and develop, it's only natural that your journaling style will change along with you.
Become part of the Journaling Community?
One thing that really helped me stay consistent with my journaling, is by becoming part of the journaling community. If you feel comfortable sharing your journal pages online, then you will find lots of others doing the same. Both Instagram and Pinterest have huge amounts of people sharing their journals every day. If you seach the hashtags #journal #journaling #creativejournal #journalcommunity you are bound to find some people with inspiring pages.
By sharing my pages and interacting with others, I have felt hugely connected to the journaling community and so inspired by all the people out there. I've made some truly wonderful friendships along the way and I would really encourage you give it a try. It's a great way of finding new ideas for your journal too.
Deepen your Knowledge
Once you have started getting comfortable with journaling on a regular basis, it can be really beneficial to deepen your knowledge and consider what else you could bring to your journal practice. I have lots of classes available where I guide you through everything from journaling for a positive mindset, to making your very own journal. I would love to see you there.
I do hope this blog post has inspired you to either start journaling, or to keep journaling on a regular basis. How often do you use yours? I would love to know, Helen x