How to Write a Journal

How to Write a Journal?

Thinking of starting a journal? It's one thing to want to do it, and it's another thing to know how to. You probably want to keep a journal that's worth the while. Thanks to prolific journal writers like Virginia Woolf, many publicly shared tips exist on how to write a journal and get your journaling journey started.

Benefits of Writing a Journal

Journalling is a great way to save memories and details of your life. Many people keep a journal for various reasons. And journal writing comes with a lot of benefits, including mental health benefits.

Committing to a regular journal entry may help you improve alertness and mindfulness. Journal writing can also help you manage unpleasant memories and future worries and keep you focused on the present. This is an important mental health benefit of journal writing. Generally, it brings you into a deeper relationship with yourself.

Feeling Positive

You don’t have to be a writer to get started with journals. As you free write, you will realize that journals often involve writing about aspirations and dreams. Journal writing helps you remind yourself of what's important.

Numerous health and wellness benefits

Writing about personally experienced stressors or traumatic events has been associated with mental and physical health improvements in numerous studies2.

Journal writing also offers the benefit of boosting memory. Seeing as the hand works with the brain to conceive and represent thoughts, it forces you to remember. This way, journaling helps to keep your memory sharp as it improves cognitive recollection.

If you have been traumatized or dealing with PSTD, journaling has proven helpful for many. Writing practice can help to improve your mood and enhance your general well-being. This also means that it may help in managing depression and its symptoms. While journaling practice cannot suffice as professional treatment for depression, it serves well to complement professional treatment.

Even for people diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, researchers have reported that after three days of expressive writing for 20 minutes per day, people scored significantly lower on their measure of depression1.

Journal Writing for Stress

Generally, writing can help soothe emotions that feel overwhelming. It can also help you identify and overcome specific problems that may be enabling stress. Journaling offers the following benefits that help to reduce stress:

  • reducing the symptoms of several health conditions
  • enhancing cognitive functioning
  • supporting your immune system to get stronger
  • enabling a thought shift as it examines your thinking
  • strengthening the capacity for action over thoughts

Journal Writing for Mental Health

If you are struggling with a mental issue, journaling can help you get your thoughts down on paper and stop ruminating and worrying over them. This can free up your mind to manage your emotions and cope with the stress that could trigger a relapse. Apart from inhibiting the symptoms of conditions like depression, journaling aids recovery from many conditions. Specifically, conditions that have to do with your mind and emotions or disorders.

If you've suffered a traumatic experience and are undergoing therapy, journaling is an excellent addition to your treatment. Journal entry writing after a traumatic experience can help you see the good in life again, especially if you recall more pleasant events.

When you start writing, you can better identify and face your issues. Over time, journaling has proven to be very effective and instrumental in healing painful experiences like losing a loved one. But more than just painful experiences, did you know that journaling can even be helpful with addictions?

If you're trying to rise above addiction, writing your struggles and milestones down may help facilitate your improvement. It may help you hold yourself accountable and aid your journey to recovery in an emotionally healthy way.

Ensure that you keep writing a journal page every day. This will help you to develop a deeper relationship with yourself. And by this, there's a deeper connection to meaningful things that help you rise above negative emotions.

How To Write A journal

Journal Writing Cafe

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Writing a journal entry starts with simply deciding to recreate your thoughts and moments in writing. But more than just that, there are necessary steps you should take when you want to write a journal.

For starters, it is important to plan your writing in your schedule. But more than just scheduling your writing, additional writing at odd hours is also a great idea. Write when you’re in a good mood, a bad mood, excited to write, and indifferent about it. Build that practice with discipline.

Consistency

Make a point to start a writing entry every single day. Whether it's in the morning when you've just woken up or at night, do it every day. Being consistent with your writing will also help you build a journaling habit out of it over time. This way, you can overcome unfavorable issues like writer block. Plus, it will help you get better with your writing and reap journaling benefits even quicker. If it is possible to write up to three or four times daily, you should work toward that. The more frequently you write, the better you get with your journaling.

Another strategy for keeping a journal is to carry your journal with you everywhere. What makes this important is the fact that you really may not be able to keep to your schedule very strictly. There are days when you'll get distracted or too busy to start writing or keep to your journaling schedule. On such days, spontaneous writings are the perfect option, and it is a lot easier if you have your journal with you, even at work. Besides, you can't tell when or where you'll get the inspiration to write something. So, you should consider having your journal with you as you go about your business. This will, over time, become a good habit.

Start with a Prompt

Journaling prompts are also helpful for any journal writers starting out. Whether a practiced writer or not, coming up with ideas on what to write can prove a challenge for many people. With prompts, you'll find it easier to get your creative juices flowing. You may choose to write about your thoughts and feelings or happy experiences. Or, you may also choose to write about unpleasant events that got you stressed out. You may even just decide to write about how you feel at different times. It doesn't matter what you write about, as long as you write every day. Writing prompts help you find your self-expression. If prompts make it easier for you to get ideas, don't hesitate to use prompts.

Very importantly, always try to stay relaxed and keep your mind at ease. Putting on some music is a great way to relax. You should also try to take more deep breaths and close your eyes from time to time. And remember that it is your personal journal, and you can write whatever you feel like. There's no right or wrong way to do it. Many people seem to get themselves worked up over what to write in their journals. But again, it's not about the content. It's about your commitment to keeping a good writing habit. So get your own and just start writing, and you'll find that it starts flowing easily.

How to Write a Journal? - The Writing Process

To avoid the many distractions that can negatively affect your journaling, write in a private space. When you write at home, have space specifically dedicated to your writing, away from any noise. The journal method utilizes meditation, images, and dreams to explore the symbolic messages beneath everyday experiences. You can take time off to meditate and reflect as an important addition to your routine3. This helps put you in the right place to process your feelings and experiences.

Remember, too, that your writing should be about what feels right to you as a person. Making yourself the priority in your journaling entry is an excellent method to make it meaningful. Keep your writing just as it feels good and meaningful to you. Also, reject the feeling that you have to write about specific events you don't want to, especially if they're traumatic.

It is also important that you keep your journal entries private. You’ll most likely choose to keep your journal entries confidential and not share them with anyone, not even your closest ones. The essence is to help you document your feelings and process your thoughts with no inhibitions. Only you can read your journal because it contains your life experiences.

There are exceptions, of course, and some people like to seek feedback on their writing from others they trust, or even wider. Remember that you are doing this for you, so do what feels right.

What Should You Write in a Journal?

There are many entries you can consider writing in a journal. It all depends on what appeals to you or perfectly reflects your current emotions. Let's talk about a few good ideas:

Your wins

You can choose to make your journal entries about your small daily wins. Put down any events that make you happy or give you a feeling of achievement. Despite seemingly adverse events in your business or life, think about the ones that gave you a feeling of winning. Make your journal page entry about these things.

Your goals

Writing down your goals can give you a blueprint, which is great for your journal. Your journal is a good place to put down actionable steps to reach your goals. Plus, it's a good process to inspire yourself to get things done.

Your stresses

Did you know that writing about the things that stress you can be helpful? Of course, many of us don’t want to dump our daily concerns on those around us. But those feelings still need expression in some way. This is where some good journaling time comes in. Consider also writing about your stress. Whether they're work-related or family-related, they're suitable for your journal. Think about things that have been sources of stress and note them in your journal. This can be an excellent method to identify your sources of stress and avoid them consciously.

Things you love

Making your journal about things you love is also a great idea. You can write about self-discovery, your favorite food, your favorite books, or even your favorite TV shows. This way, you can always look back at your paper journal ideas and story.

Your dreams

What are the things you dream about? What aspirations do you have? Is there a place you would like to visit? Or an aspiration you would like to reach? There's a joy your dreams uniquely give, and writing about them is a great method to keep them in memory. You can also download a diary app like the daily stoic journal to practice and document your entries. Search for this app on your browser, and when you download it, they’ll ask you to enter your name, email, and other information. With this app, you can learn and practice great writing techniques and entries.

Your travels

Having a travel journal is a fun manner to do journaling. If you're someone who travels a lot or has traveled a lot, a travel journal is excellent. You can write about day one experience and your most exciting travel experiences. You can also write about the unpleasant experiences you have had as a person or group. Travel journals are always great for reminiscing. You'll be thankful, in a few years, that you didn't pass on it.

Daily activities

Most writers put down their experiences or how they felt after a meeting or even a date. You can talk about your hangout with your friends or how you felt after seeing each other. You can essentially make your journal about your daily events/ activities, work, or sports practice and how they made you feel. Remember that you can choose to make an entry about anything, including unpleasant experiences.

Things you’re thankful for

A gratitude journal is always a good means to do journaling. You can choose to write about the things you're thankful for daily. Or, you can put down the bad events that turned out unexpectedly well. You can talk about a family member who recovered from sickness. Have you recently overcome a challenge? Write it down. You can also talk about how lucky you are to have good friends. You can talk about your child's high school graduation. When it comes to gratitude, there's so much to give thanks for. Hence, there's so much to write about. Think about all the things in your life that you're thankful for and pen them down in your journal.

Quotes that mean something to you

Inspirational and motivational quotes are great for getting boosts. They can also inspire you daily to put your best foot forward. Motivational quotes can be part of those things that inspire you. You can pen down your best quotes in your journal as a method of giving yourself daily motivation. You may also note which aspects of your life specific quotes speak to.

Self-care

This is another great idea for your journal. Writing about self-care is a particularly good way to make you feel better. You can write about what you want to achieve by the weekend. Think back to a self-care routine you once had or one you currently have and write about that. You can also talk about how you felt after a particular self-care routine. Write about how making time for self-care makes you feel and the effects it has.

Tips to Keep Going

Sometimes, getting the motivation to stay consistent with your journal can be a challenge. But you need the motive to make you turn a blank page into a memory-filled with great thoughts.

  1. Start by picking a journal you like. When you shop for a journal, don't just pick up anyone. Pick up one that physically appeals to you. Of course, it doesn't exactly have to be fancy or expensive. As long as you like it, then it works.
  2. Getting a small one is a good idea, especially if you plan to carry it around. Having a big sized journal can deter any person from carrying their journals around. This can, in turn, stand in your way of actually writing the journal entry. But when you have a small one, you do not have to worry about the weight. Seeing as a little journal is more comfortable to carry around, writing is more manageable.
  3. Use a pen you love. This easily sounds trivial, but the truth is, it works. Just like your journal, using a pen you love may make you want to write more. As such, if you want to inspire yourself to stay consistent, use a pen you like.
  4. Don't get yourself worked up over what to write. Just do it. It's always about what you feel, and there's no right or wrong way. People struggle with life, but you don’t have to battle with journaling. When you want to write, there are no right things. Just write whatever appeals to you at a given time and don't worry about it.
  5. Choose a time that is convenient for you. An important tip to make sure you can write consistently is by making it convenient. You do not have to write at specific times. Just write when you can and make it fun. Don't forget that you're the boss and you don't have to answer to anyone.
  6. Use a tool that serves as a reminder. If you have set a specific time of day to write, use a tool to help make sure you never forget. Just your phone is enough to remind you. Sometimes, people can forget to write, but using a tool can make it easier.

Start a journal today if you haven’t already. Get started, take on board some of the tips above on how to write a journal, and you won’t look back. Happy Journaling!

#Description
1Krpan, K. M., Kross, E., Berman, M. G., Deldin, P. J., Askren, M. K., & Jonides, J. (2013). An everyday activity as a treatment for depression: the benefits of expressive writing for people diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Journal of affective disorders, 150(3), 1148–1151. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2013.05.065
2Ullrich, Philip & Lutgendorf, Susan. (2002). Journaling about stressful events: Effects of cognitive processing and emotional expression. Annals of behavioral medicine : a publication of the Society of Behavioral Medicine. 24. 244-50. 10.1207/S15324796ABM2403_10.
3DM Epple (2007). Advances in social work, - advancesinsocialwork.iupui.edu
Jennifer is a content writer with an educational background in Public Relations and Advertising. From her desk in Lagos, Nigeria, she helps businesses around the world reach and connect with their audiences.
Main photo by Tom Barrett on Unsplash
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