How to Start (and Keep) Journaling

August 31, 2017

We've been doing journaling prompts for half the year now--but have you been DOING them? Do you write in your journal frequently or, like many of us, have you just never managed to get a writing practice going? It's not an easy thing sometimes, when our daily life gets so busy, despite our best intentions. Here are some tips to help you get a writing practice started, and hopefully keep it going:

  • Don't get too precious with a journal. Yes, there's so many gorgeous ones out there, and it's easy to think that if you get the right one that you'll use it, right?​ That can certainly be the case, but it can backfire. It's easy to get intimidated by that impeccable, beautiful journal and just never touch it, because you're not worthy, you don't have the right pen, you don't want to get coffee on it, whatever. And most importantly, you don't want to end up censoring yourself because you think only screenings of a certain calibre must grace its special pages. Sometimes it's better to get the goofiest, cheapest notebook you can find, so that if you want to rage for three pages about your chronic gas or how much you hate your neighbor's chihuahua, you won't feel like you wasted your money.
  • Make a regular time for writing. Julia Cameron, in The Artist's Way, suggests doing three "morning pages" each morning before your brain kicks into its type-A to-do list persona. The idea is you put pen to paper and just write. If you want, you can write more afterwards, but the idea is that you want to flush your brain out onto the page in a regular manner. Some people prefer to write before bed, or just after breakfast. The point is, you're more likely to keep to something if it's a habit, which means you may want to try to do it at roughly the same time and in the same way even if it's not every day.
  • Don't make the best the enemy of the good. If your schedule is erratic or you feel like adding something else to your routine will make you want to bash your head in with the toaster, then don't sweat it. Just keep your journal somewhere where you will have access to it frequently, and when you've got a few spare minutes pull it out. Maybe write a little while you're waiting for your coffee to heat up, or in the car before a meeting, or put the darn thing next to the toilet. I won't tell.
  • Pre-prompt your journal. Sometimes it takes too much mental energy to figure out what to write about, and maybe you're not into the whole stream-of-consciousness thing. One thing you can do is write a journal prompt at the top of every, or every other page. It's easy to find journal prompts on the internet, or you can find them in books. You can also just pull an oracle card and write about what it makes you think about, or what you see in the picture. 
  • Go back and look through your journal periodically. There's nothing more satisfying than looking at pages and pages of your own handwriting. It's also great to highlight anything that seems important to you, or to note things that come up over and over. Sometimes we don't notice something until it's staring us in the face. Not only can you help yourself process issues you may not have been aware of, but you can see how far you've come. That's great incentive to keep going.