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Over the years, many people have recommended that I keep a journal. It ranges from writing coaches to teachers to friends to counselors. Each has a specific reason to keep a journal, and all of them are great reason. But the actual execution can be difficult.
What a Journal Provides
In order to convince myself to do anything, I have to understand what the value is. (That doesn’t mean I don’t do no-value activities; it’s just I’m more likely if there is some reason for me to do them)
As I see it, journals are ways to:
- record memories of significant events
- work out problems in writing
- record daily life
- provide a moment of introspection in a crazy life
Tips For Journaling
That doesn’t make it any easier.
I’ve started countless journals over the years. But I’ve never managed to stick with it. I think it’s mainly my perfectionism holding me back: I want to do it “right”. But I have finally figured out there is no right way to journal. There are, however, ways to make it easier.
- Get a journal you like. Without good materials, you won’t be inclined to use them. If you prefer to work on the computer, do so. If you like paper, pick one that feels good to you.
- You don’t have to have just one. You can have as many journals as you want. Don’t worry that things aren’t all in one place. If you’re that concerned about legacy, realize that if you are so eminent that all of your journals are of interest, someone will probably earn a PhD sorting out your papers. If you’re not that eminent, write wherever you choose. This is especially helpful if you don’t journal because you “don’t have access to it right now”.
- Don’t start out with too big goals. Telling yourself you will write for an hour every day or four pages is going to set yourself up for disappointment. Sometimes our lives are not that interesting, and we won’t have the time.
- Know that it’s OK to skip. Some days you will be too (busy, sick, bored) to write. Or there may be nothing to write about. It’s OK to skip a day.
- Journal at appropriate times. Telling yourself you will journal first thing in the morning or last thing at night is great if you can function at those times. Since I am not at peak energy at those times of day, it is hard for me to do more than a few words.
- Write as much as you choose. Some days you might just want to note the weather. Other days you might want to write more. Follow your instincts.
- It’s OK to use prompts. There are many prompted journals available in bookstores, and there are also many journal prompts out on the ‘Net. If you find it hard to get started, use one of these methods.
Keeping a daily journal doesn’t have to be difficult. By choosing what you like, and allowing yourself to write as much as you wish when you wish, you can get started easily.
Photo by samantha celera