Journaling: What I Wish I Had Known Sooner

Like many a journal writer, I started as a young girl with a basic “Dear Diary” format and wrote about the events of my day.

I also only wrote in times of heartbreak and upheaval…I can track the lovely periods of my life by the deafening silence in my journal.

I’ve learned a lot about journaling since then.  In fact, I was so passionate about the subject that I began studies with the Therapeutic Writing Institute of the Centre for Journal Therapy.  Ahhh….I was home.

I have since come to see my journal as a companion, trusted friend, life coach, day planner, esteem builder and paper therapist.  It also records my accomplishments, challenges and victories over adversity.   The time I spend with my journal pays me back tenfold.

Here are some of the things I wish I had known when I first started journaling:

  • You don’t have to write every day;  missing days, weeks or even months is part of journaling life.  Don’t beat yourself up about it.
  • No time?  Set 10 minutes on your phone and start.  It’s always surprising what can happen in 10 minutes.
  • Keep a separate “venting” journal – that way, you have a place to release the hard stuff without having to re-read those entries.
  • Rip, tear, burn or shred painful entries (if you wish).  The writing is where the magic happens.  Adding a ritual like burning or shredding can feel deeply healing.
  • Glue an envelope into the back of your journal.  In it, keep index cards with great writing prompts.  That way, you’ll always have something to write about.  You can also store mementos or pictures.
  • Collect quotes that speak to you:  they make great writing prompts.  So do those motivating tidbits on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Try writing at different times of the day.  Morning writer?  Better at bedtime to help you wind down?  Perhaps at your afternoon tea break?  See what works for you.
  • Fancy leather-bound journals usually stay blank!  Get your hands on something you’ll actually want to write in.  Try different formats – spiral, bound spine, legal-sized, pocket-sized…you are limited only by what’s out there.  Find something you connect with.
  • Don’t be afraid to have fun and paste in words or images which speak to you.  Doodle in the margins.  Write in different colours.  Use colouring pencils or markers. Decorate with stickers.
  • Try different pens:  do you like a fine or medium tip? Markers? Gel? Fountain pens? Do you like black ink or purple, green or turquoise?
  • On the last page of your journal, make a list of your accomplishments.  Check it regularly so you can keep adding to it!  We do a lot that we can be proud of…honour it.
  • Keep a list of movies you’ve seen and books you’ve read.  Did you see a great concert?  Ink it!
  • Try a little ritual around journal writing:  make tea, light a candle, set an intention, choose an angel card, crystal or rune…any or all of these little rituals will connect you to the spirit of journal writing.
  • Have fun!  If it feels like a chore, resist.  Pick it up when it feels right, set it down when the feeling passes.  Trust your instincts.

Do you have any journaling tips you’d like to share?  Please add them to the comments below.  I’d love to hear from you!

Ink well.

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