Starting a journal can be intimidating, and some folks wonder what to write about once they set an intention to reflect regularly. Such doubts have kept many an individual from recording what matters to them. When someone marvels at my journaling history and asks, “How do you do it?” My first response is, “Practice.” But it’s true that there’s more to it than that.
1. Set Realistic Expectations
While Pinterest and online #bujo communities like Boho Berry offer inspiration, they can also prompt you to compare your output with that you see on a screen. Deciding to keep a journal is an act of self-love and vulnerability, so it’s natural to be sensitive and prone to comparison. By setting realistic expectations, you’ll be more likely to create your entries over time. After all, the artistic representations and #midori pioneers were once beginners too. What you observe online is the product of extensive practice. Just imagine the transformation you and your notebooks will take as you continue to pour into this discipline!
2. Keep Materials With You
You might chance upon an opportunity to create an entry, but if you don’t have a pen or paper, what’s to be done? While the back of a receipt or clean napkin will do in a pinch, it’s best to keep the materials you need with you as often as possible.
3. Got Writer’s Block? Look Around You
Whenever I’m feeling stuck, I redirect my attention from the blank page to the world around me. Not only does this get me out of my head, but it provides myriad subject matter. Consider:
- What’s around you?
- Are you in a new or standard location?
- If standard, is there anything you’ve never noticed before?
- Why are you at this location? (Even at home, the answer can surprise!)
- Any notable scents or sounds?
Too often, aspiring journal-keepers feel they have to produce eloquent output. This is more likely to result in a blank page than an impressive entry, so check in with your senses instead of trying to force your thoughts into submission.
4. Explore What Works For You
If you want to make journaling a personal discipline, you have to discover what works for you. This means you have to be open to new ideas, but you also have to be honest with yourself. Some want to journal to maximize time management. Others opt to record their travels or explore art journaling. Whatever applications appeal to you, dive in and see what works! How you approach the page should make the process easy. If it feels like you’re forcing something or you’re not enjoying it, check in and revisit what suits you best.
5. Be Kind To Yourself
If you choose to continually record life happenings and your thoughts about them, you’re bound to encounter a multitude of perspectives and emotional states over time. Instead of thinking you shouldn’t feel a certain way, practice self-compassion. This isn’t easy, but it will serve you long into your journaling discipline. I could very well choose to be ashamed of past selfish or narcissistic behavior, but instead, I try to accept that the girl I was then is not who I am now. By no means do I celebrate those seasons, but I do try to give myself a break. Perfection isn’t a possibility, and we strive for it, we’ll repeatedly meet disappointment.
As you journal and discover what suits you best, you will uncover things about yourself that you didn’t expect. At times, this happens in the moment. Others take years to see. That’s part of the joy in journaling— you write because you want to, and later on, you learn something!
- This post is courtesy of journaler extraodinaire, creative maven and Paper Seahorse writing teacher Laura Knepler. We thank her for her insights and inspiration.