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.
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.
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.
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.
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!