Inspiration

Why You Should Be Journaling and How To Start

At the end of 2013, right when I was finishing my first term of college, I vowed as a new year’s resolution that I would start a journaling practice. From day one of opening the first page of my first journal, I’ve been hooked. Four and a half years later and I have insights about my life and my happiness, as well as a detailed record of my day-to-day happenings for almost my entire undergraduate career.

I cannot recommend journaling enough. It’s something that I think everyone should be putting into their daily routine, through the best and worst of times. Here’s a list of benefits I wrote to a day-to-day writing practice:

It clears your mind.

When there’s a million things going on in your brain a minute, doing your best to catch what you can and write it down helps ease your mind’s pressure to try and remember everything, allowing it to relax.

It’s a judgment-free zone.

You’re the only one seeing it, so unleash whatever strange thoughts you may have going on.

It improves your writing skill.

Even if your pages are rife with run-on sentences, chicken scratch, and misspellings abound, your general ability to write will get better, and communicating your ideas on paper gets easier. I am now able to market and utilize my skill as a writer because I jot stuff down so much in a journal.

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It’s a memory keeper.

The things you don’t think about wanting to remember later on become significant through journaling. I found it especially comforting when I lost a close friend to an accident, and I was able to relive memories of her through bits and pieces I’d written about seeing her.

It helps process trauma.

It’s been shown that writing about personal issues helps individuals cope better with things that may have happened to them, and gives people better defense mechanisms when experiencing feelings surrounding thoughts of those events.

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You learn your mistakes better.

If you dedicate time to writing and ruminating on your successes and failures, it helps the lessons stick more.

It’s phenomenal for brainstorming.

I’ve experienced a permanent creative boost because of journaling; since I know how to get my thoughts out better, I know how to get ideas for this blog or my hobbies better in turn.

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You can get inspired by your past.

The years and years worth of recorded lessons that I now have serve as motivation for, well one, not doing those things again, and two, this blog! I get a lot of new ideas for content by flipping through old pages. As time passes, you’ll learn to utilize your past to fuel your future.

You can track your progress with habits, to dos, and creating.

The lovely Bullet Journal  has some great ideas for habit trackers, project trackers, and more. The network that surrounds this journal concept is so inspiring in general, honestly.

It’s a go-to place for writing whatever you may need to remember for later.

The first place any notes, ideas, inspirational quotes, etc. go is my journal, because it’s usually the most accessible thing I have. I can sort every bit of writing out later if I have an organizational system for it.

Now that I’ve (hopefully) convinced you to start a journal, here’s an easy 4-step process to starting your practice:

1) Research a journaling method that works for you. Are you going to be a bullet journaler, like I mentioned earlier in this post? A stream of consciousness writer? A bullet-pointer? Find or come up with something that’ll be just right for your needs and wants.

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2) Buy a journal that fits your system. I recommend finding a dot-gridded notebook that has a hardcover (so you can take it everywhere and not worry about it bending or ripping) with something you find beautiful. Something that’s going to inspire you and make you want to write every time you open it. Don’t forget a pen, too!  Hopefully you don’t mind a little bit of advertising, but this is honestly my favorite book and pen to work with:

The paper’s sturdy, the dots are visible but not intrusive to what you’re writing, the pages are already numbered and there’s already an index in the front.  It’s what I’m currently using in a dark blue color for my bujo!  As for the pens, I use Microns for my bullet journal but a ballpoint for regular journaling.  Microns just look nice, they write smooth, the ink’s solid and it doesn’t bleed.  It’s not the best for quick scrawlings of ideas though, hence the ballpoint pen.

3) Add a title page, an index and a key at the front of your journal. Cannot recommend this one enough. Title pages are great for marking the start of your journey as well as for including contact info in case your book gets lost. Indexing is wonderful for keeping track of what you’re writing about. Lastly, a key is good for marking down things while journaling for easy reference. (Again, the Bujo system has a great default key for this, but I find myself tweaking that key to suit my needs wherever I’m at with life.)

4) Get writing! Best (and sometimes hardest) step of them all.

What does your journaling system look like? Talk about it in the comments below!

Happy journaling,
Shannon

16 thoughts on “Why You Should Be Journaling and How To Start”

  1. Journalling is something that I’ve tried to start so many times because of all of these reasons, but each time I start, I just can’t seem to keep it up. I think it really would be a wonderful idea, so maybe I need to try it again! Fab post, gal.

    Soph x | http://www.sophierosie.com

    1. Thank you! I think it can be hard to start a daily journaling practice, as it can be to start any daily habit. It definitely gets easier after the first month of doing it I think.

  2. I knew there were benefits to journaling but this much.. WOW! I’m so happy I journal haha

    I’m obsessed with my Bullet Journal and I encourage everyone to have a journal because it’s such a release. I define it as putting my brain on paper – I can be as creative with it as I want, and it helps me organize my life and thoughts so much it’s amazing!

    http://www.elleisforlove.com

  3. I couldn’t agree more – it can be really helpful to get your thoughts out of your head. Also, sometimes it’s great to spend just a little time on yourself. I’ll have to give some other styles of journaling a try – I’m really interested in starting a Bullet journal so I’ll go check out the link. Thank you for inspiring me!

  4. I love this idea! I do something kind of similar in my Filofax (yes I know I am 19 and I have a filofax, let’s move on) but I am always popping a page into my week and writing about my day or something that’s happened that I don’t want to forget or even to-do lists. Then, the next year, when that week comes around again I can look back and think “so this time last year this happened and that happened” and I adore it! Especially if it’s a really amazing thing because it makes that day every year so much nicer! I love this idea and the fact that you have kept it up for 4 and a half years is quite impressive x
    Claire | clairesyear.com

    1. Girl 19 with a Filofax means you’re on top of yo life no judgies comin’ from me! I agree that that’s such a fun aspect to journaling. It’s also a way to really see how far you’ve come in life and how different/better things may have gotten!

  5. I’ve been into watching Bullet Journal videos and it is definitely something I might try out next year! I really recommend Amanda Rach Lee on YouTube for bullet journalling videos even just to watch! I like how individual a bullet journal or in fact just journalling itself!

    1. I’m so obsessed with bullet journaling tbh. I’m so glad so many other people are as into the craze as I’ve been!

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