JOURNAL TIPS FOR BEGINNERS
Journaling is one of my favourite and most long-standing self development rituals, and it’s one that I am asked the most about. So I wanted to put together this blog for those who are newbies to journaling, including everything you need to know about how to start, what to write and how to further develop and sustain your practice. Journaling truly is one of the self-development rituals that I believe is worth the hype, but you have to establish a few things first, so that you get the most out of it.
Firstly, let’s start with things you need to know about journaling;
There is no right or wrong way to journal
You can write WHATEVER you want
There are so many different types of, and ways to journal
It’s a very personal experience
Let’s unpack this…
There is no right or wrong way to journal! Most people think this is because when they open a journal for the first time they feel a bit lost and confused about what to write. So in those instances, I tell clients, write ANYTHING. Try to use “What is on my mind right now” as the prompt for your thoughts and write whatever is on your mind… whether that’s your to-do list, a recent disagreement you’ve had, your goals for the day or week. It truly does not matter what you write. The point is the commitment you’re making to your practice. Once you remove the ‘performance based metric’ to journaling, it becomes so much easier and natural.
You can write WHATEVER you want. Similarly to the above, there is no limit on what you write. Some days I will write my to-do list, and others I might journal about something that came up in a dream, or simply about my day the day before. Some days I’ll write positivity or gratitude logs if I’m struggling to connect with my thoughts. When I first started journaling in January 2021 I wrote words, that’s it, just a bunch of words. This allowed me to create a mini challenge for myself, I would write the words (ones that described my thoughts or emotions) and then each day I would try to be a bit more explanatory with them or piece them together by using the prompt “why” for example, if I wrote “Stressed” or “Frustrated” I would ask myself “why” and then write it down. You can add more layers to this by asking “why” to your first “why” response to get to the root cause of your emotions (this isn’t something that happens within a few days, but it will certainly happen after a couple of weeks consistently journaling).
There are so many different types of, and ways to journal. There are prompted journals, and blank journals, journals for travel/self development/gratitude/love/religion or spirituality (amongst many more). My favourite type of journal, and one I mostly recommend to my clients is blank journals, usually a page per day journal. This allows you to learn and practice your journal practice more and more vs the overly prompted ones which ask about your 5-10 year plan (There is nothing wrong with that question, but if you’re wanting to learn more about yourself and your thoughts, those prompts may force you down one route of journaling)
It’s a very personal experience. This is such an important point for me to emphasise, because it all depends why you’re wanting to journal, don’t just journal because your favourite influencer posted the five minute journal on their stories. Do it because you have a reason, perhaps you want to learn more about yourself and your emotions, maybe you need an outlet, maybe you love expressing yourself via words, maybe you want to keep a track of things happening in your life. Define why you want to journal, and then take that approach and research based on this. Eg: If you’re wanting to learn more about yourself, google ‘journal prompts for self awareness’ whereas if you were wanting to keep a gratitude log, you’d google “prompts for gratitude” etc.
Journal Tips for Beginners:
Define your reason for journaling
Choose a journal that suits your reason (prompted or unprompted)
Google journal prompts to help guide you but do not rely on them
Write down words that describe how you’re feeling or whatever is on your mind
Ask yourself “why” and explore those thoughts
Monitor your journal inputs - do you notice any patterns?
Choose a time of day to journal (I prefer the first thing, but you can also do it before bed - just be mindful of becoming too tired to journal) - just find a time that you can be consistent with.
Spend time re-reading your inputs once weekly
Keep this journal for you, this is not to be shared or for anyone to have access to - keeping this private will allow you to express yourself more freely.
Remove any pressure from yourself about what you write and just write whatever comes to mind
Need more tips? Listen to Episode 28 of The Real and Raw Podcast