How to Write a Journal and Make it a Habit: Benefits of Journal Writing

Photo: CC0 Public Domain - Unsplash - Hannah Olinger

Ever wonder how to write a journal? Journal writing has many benefits: it lets you look back on moments, experiences, and thoughts in greater detail later in life. We’ll show you how to start journaling and share some ideas for your first journal entries.

Consider journal writing in today’s day and age and you may be left wondering: is it really even worth it to write a journal if our whole lives unfold online? My Facebook wall is a journal itself, is it not? Yet, the benefits of journaling are unique in countless ways. Learn to write a journal and you’ll discover new means of mindful self-reflection and contemplation.

In this article, we’ll talk about how to start journaling regularly, what different kinds of journal writing there are, and what benefits they have to offer. We’ll also help you brainstorm some ideas for journal entries. Here’s how to start journaling.

Is It Worth It to Write a Journal in Today’s Digital Age?

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How do the benefits of journaling compare to “journal writing” via social media? (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Ben Hershey)

Some may argue that writing a journal today is an antiquated and obsolete art form. How can it still be worth it to write a journal if we have Insta, Facebook, Snapchat, and the gang right there on our phones? Well, the benefits of journaling differ greatly from those of social media. In today’s online era, everyone shares everything with everyone else. Journal writing creates space for very personal, private thoughts and experiences.

The benefits of journaling are plenty. They begin by helping you reflect on your day, think outside the box, and capture beautiful moments from within. At the same time, when you jot down negative thoughts and feelings, journal writing also allows you to better process emotions, helps reduce stress, and gives you your own personal space on paper.

Keeping a journal can also help you can practice mindfulness meditation. When you write a journal, the sole act of writing focuses your concentration and forces you to live in the present. Journal writing is a recollection of the day’s events and can help you reflect on which moments were important to you, and why.

Journal writing can also help promote creativity and constructive thinking. It can help you put your life in order, set priorities, or even heal emotional wounds. It can help you to discover yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, and things about yourself that you want to work on. It can help you get to know yourself better and even boost your confidence. It’s also a great way to kickstart a digital detox. Want to learn how to start journaling? Let’s get to it.

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Writing a Journal: Your New Companion

how to get started journal diary
Write a journal now and you’ll be thankful down the road. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay - Pexels)

Write a journal and you can capture moments as they are at a certain point in time. Open it up years down the road and it’s sure to bring back memories. And in times of need, going back and reading in your own words how you have overcome certain challenges may help you deal with similar challenges that you are currently facing.

Plus, isn’t it simply exciting to read about how you thought about your life and the world five, ten, twenty years ago? You get to see which people have accompanied you and when, relive successes, and how you mastered challenges. A diary can become your very own personal guide to life; people often come and go, but your thoughts remain and provide stability.

A diary gives you hope, comfort, and captures beautiful moments in written memory. Your journal builds a bridge between your past, your experiences, your memories, your future, your dreams, and your plans.

Where to Start: Brainstorm First

how to write a journal
Ready to start journaling? Brainstorm a few ideas for journal entries and formats first. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Clay Banks)

Before you start writing your journal, it’s important to map out how you want to organize your ideas for journal entries. First, you’ll need to select the type of journal you want to keep. When deciding on how exactly to start journaling, it may help to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you plan to write down your experiences day by day or maybe just jot down individual thoughts, memories, etc.? In other words: Do you plan on writing regularly or only when you feel like it?
  • Would you like to write things down just as they come to mind? Or are writing poems, short stories, or other forms of literature more your thing?
  • When you write your journal, are you looking to collect memories? Or do you want to collect ideas and dreams?
  • Think about when you will write. Does journal writing sound like an everyday activity? Or maybe you’ll only write at special times or after special events, such as a trip or after a phase of particular emotional or personal significance.

When you write a journal, keep in mind: there are no rules. What you write about and how you do it is entirely up to you. And if you’re not sure how you wish to write a journal, try things out and find what works best for you. Writing a journal is an individual process; use trial and error to discover your own journaling style.

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How Do You Want to Write Your Journal?

how to write a journal beginner
How you keep your journal is completely up to you. Get creative! (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Grianghraf)

Remember: you don’t have to stick to any certain format in order to enjoy the benefits of journaling. Every type of journal is unique. For this reason, it helps to consider how you wish to start journaling before you buy or make your own journal. Some examples of journal types available are:

  • looseleaf pages
  • a bound book
  • a notebook
  • a handmade journal/notebook
  • an app on your phone or computer
  • a blog (not as private as a personal journal of course)

Next, design a layout or create a particular routine for how exactly you want to record your thoughts, experiences, or ideas for your journal entires. Here are some helpful suggestion on how to organize your journal:

  • Be sure to include the date. This will help you find things later and provides context within the rest of your journal.
  • Write headlines, e.g. “My Trip to Alaska” or just “Shower Thoughts”.
  • Write down or sketch “networks” of thoughts and images with the help of a mindmap or similar graphic organizer.
  • Record your thoughts as informally as possible – let your voice come through.
  • Include pictures, sketches, or visual aids to help you capture or remember particular moments or experiences. If you’re more of a visual person, maybe consider keeping your own “art journal” or comic about life instead.
  • Since nobody else will be reading your journal, spelling and grammar mistakes don’t matter one bit. No one will be grading your writing style or ideas for your journal entries.

One piece of advice to always hold true to: always be honest with yourself. Journal writing isn’t a compulsory task, so if it’s not the day for it, don’t sweat it. It may take some effort to work up to being able to write a journal regularly. However, it should never feel more like work than fun.

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Special Journals: Personalized Journal Writing

where to start  various methods
Don’t let a busy schedule get in the way of journal writing. Write a journal in your own special way. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Fotografierende)

Does daily journal writing sound too time-consuming? No problem. Use these special types of journaling writing methods to start journaling on your own schedule:

  • Travel Diary: Spending time in beautiful and exciting new places while on vacation often helps us reflect and spurs creativity. A journal to record these memories, thoughts, and ideas — whether in journal entries or short notes — gives us something to look back on.
  • Minute-Journal: Set your stopwatch for one minute and write down everything that comes to mind. Whether random thoughts, feelings, or new ideas, these journal entries can help clear your head.
  • Morning “Wake-Up” Journal Entry: A healthy morning routine is essential to starting the day off on the right foot. Without stopping or taking a break, write a page every day about anything and everything that comes to mind. This will rein in all those thoughts floating around your head and help you start your day calm and collected.
  • Two-Sentence Journal: One sentence in the morning, one sentence in the evening. Despite a busy schedule, this journal writing method gives you a valuable moment of reflection and contemplation.
  • Experience Diary: Describe exactly one experience in detail every day. How did you feel, who was there, and what exactly happened?
  • Daily Gratitude Journal: Write down a number of things every day you are happy or grateful for. Learning how to practice gratitude will help you beat a bad mood and maintain a more positive outlook on life.

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Once-a-Week Sticky Notes: Your Year in a Jar

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The “Year in a Jar” method isn’t exactly journal writing but serves many of the same purposes, such as memory collection and reflection. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Milan Popovic)

For those who want to enjoy the benefits of journaling together with others, this one’s for you. At the end of each week, write down one good thing that happened to you on a slip of paper and put it in a jar. On New Year’s or a birthday (or any other special occasion of your choosing), open the jar and celebrate the 52 moments of joy together with your friends or family.

You can easily make this quick journaling method a New Year’s resolution or simply start whenever works best for you. When you’re done, write a journal with all your collected memories or keep them in their own special scrapbook.

This article was translated from German to English by Evan Binford. You can view the original here: Tagebuch schreiben: Vorteile und Schreibtipps.

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