You’ve probably heard it before: journaling leads to greater happiness and increased creativity. With benefits like these, why would you not want to keep a journal?
The answer, plain and simple, is that keeping a daily journal is hard. While there may be many reasons for this, one of the hardest parts of keeping a journal is figuring out where to begin. What do you write about—your daily activities, your emotions, or significant events?
Why not all of the above? Your journal can be whatever you want it to be. If this still seems overwhelming to you, give the following journaling strategies a try.
1. Free Write
This is a basic journal-writing strategy. Buy a notebook, open it up, and write whatever pops into your head. No rules, no structure, no judgment.
Many people—myself included—find this method of journal writing cathartic. Do you have too much on your mind at the end of the day? Free write and feel your thoughts settle into place. Did you experience something that leaves you bewildered, angry, scared, upset? Journal about it, and you can feel your unwanted emotions evaporating and solutions forming in your mind.
If you prefer typing to writing things out by hand, try keeping your journal on a Google Doc. Many people like this method because it’s fast and convenient, as you can access your journal from any place that offers internet access.
2. Sketch Your Thoughts
If you’re having a hard time figuring out what to write, try sketching instead. This method is especially effective if you write for a living and need another way to let your creativity flow.
You can draw the events of the day or simply do a pencil rendering of your surroundings. Include captions or a brief explanation if you so desire. Focusing on the lines of your drawing can help you focus on the creative process rather than on writing the perfect poetic interpretation of your day.
An alternative to this method is to take photos throughout the day and then make an online journal of your pictures. You can even create collages—either online or in a notebook—by adding in favorite quotes, pictures from magazines or websites, and concert and movie tickets (either the ticket itself or a picture of it).
3. Try a Bullet Journal
Bullet journals are a recent fad, and they’re popular for a reason: rather than writing full sentences, you simply jot down bullet list items.
These bullet lists can include anything from to-do lists to got-it-done lists to goal lists—and, often, they include all three. These journals can also include events that happened throughout the day. Just remember, the goal is to keep it short, not to write detailed accounts. If you want, you can have your bullet list on one page and a more detailed explanation of the bullet list on the facing page.
You can amp up the creativity by coming up with your own symbols and color code to keep your lists organized. You can also do things like draw designs on the inside pages of your journal to suit your preferences. It’s up to you!
For more tips and ideas, check out this blog dedicated to bullet journaling.
4. Answer Prompt Questions
Many bookstores sell journals that already have questions on each page. These questions act as prompts for your journal writing whenever you don’t know where to start. A few examples of these prompt questions are:
- Where do you live?
- If you could travel anywhere tomorrow, where would it be?
- What does love mean to you?
Keep track of changes in your life by buying a five-year Q & A journal or creating your own. Each page lists a question, followed by five sectioned-off rows of lines. This allows you to come back each year for five years and record your current response to the prompt.
One of the main purposes of journal writing is to map your life’s journey, and Q & A journals provide you with an easy and visual way to do so.
If none of these journal-writing methods seem to be quite what you’re looking for, don’t give up the search. Journal writing can be whatever you want it to be. You know yourself better than anyone else—let these ideas inspire your own unique journal-writing strategy.
What’s your favorite way to journal? Share your successes—or failures—below in the comments or on social media!