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How to Start and Keep a Journal

I’ve mentioned before, I didn’t start keeping a journal until later in my life. I had regarded writing in a diary as being too self-absorbed. However, once I overcame the perception and got started, I quickly discovered the benefit and pleasure that came from keeping a journal.

However, it’s not always easy to keep a journal. We tend to side-track the process with self-imposed limits. We feel we don’t write well enough; our lives aren’t exciting or glamorous enough to document; and so on.

The thing is, there are no rules or limits on how to keep a journal. Here are some tips that can help you get started and get the most out of keeping a journal.

  • Write the date at the top of the page.
  • Include the time, location and weather for each day’s entry.
  • Leave space at the top, so you can go back and give the entry a title, once you’re finished.
  • Find the format that suits you best: loose-leaf binder, cheap notebook, Moleskine, leather-bound diary, all can work.
  • Find the time that works best for you: first thing in the morning, last thing at night.
  • Find the place that works best for you: the quiet of your bedroom, in a public coffee shop and so on.
  • Find the writing tool you are most comfortable with: a pen, pencil, marker, coloured pencils or other writing instrument.
  • Don’t be concerned with grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. Write so that you get your thoughts out as quickly as possible.
  • Write as often as you can. However, don’t pressure yourself to write daily. The more often you do write, the better you will become.
  • Draw, sketch, doodle instead of writing.
  • Use lists to kick-start your writing. “The 5 best things about today were…”
  • Keep special mementos in your journal: event tickets, photographs, flower petals, etc.
  • Let your feelings out. You can keep a journal which merely records the events of your life. There’s nothing wrong with that. You can add to its benefit by recording how you felt about what was going on.
  • Talk about a significant moment in the day
  • Write from your heart for yourself. This is a place to be honest with yourself. Write about the way you feel, not the way you think you should feel.
  • Although you should write for yourself, if you feel like you need an audience – Pretend you’re writing a letter or note to a trusted family member or friend.
  • Enjoy your journaling! Keeping a journal should not be a grim chore. If you see it that way, you’re not likely to keep it up for too long. Approach it in the spirit of creative play; an enjoyable, quiet-time gift to yourself.

Journals can be effective tools in helping one get organised, in the creative process, or in developing a new habit or skill. However, keeping a journal is a habit in and of itself and can be developed.

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