HOW TO: Keep a Journal
How to Keep a Journal
Writing is simultaneously one the simplest and most difficult of things for *a lot* of people. To put words onto paper means digging through that noggin of yours for something—anything—of worth. As soon as you have to put everything you’re going through, dealing with, and feeling into words, you suddenly have nothing to say. How do you choose just a few words to capture everything occupying your whirlwind of a life? How do you do that well? And how you do it to release some of that stress that life inevitably brings? Below, 6 things to know about keeping a journal:
1. Always Keep It with You
Stick your journal in your backpack/nap sack/tote bag/fanny pack—whatever you lug around each day—so that it’s always there. The moment something comes into your mind, you can pull it out and scrawl it onto paper before it escapes you. Not being able to write down something that pops into your head is like that sneeze that doesn’t make it out. You end up feeling pent-up and a little off for the rest of the day. Skip the emotional constipation and keep the journal with you. Trust me, it’s worth it.
2. Choose Something You Love
Your journal should be something that sets itself apart from the rest of the things tossed in your bag—something about it should different. It could be sentimental value or simply the color. As long as there is something special about this journal to distinguish between it and work/school notebooks. That way it doesn’t seem like a chore to write in it but rather like a small escape from the normal and stressful routine of work/school/life.
3. Start Small
Give yourself the goal of writing just 2 sentences a day. If you manage to hit that bar, then hell yes. This is a low enough bar that if you just can’t put thoughts into words, you don’t beat yourself up over it. And it you manage to go over that limit, then it’s a sweet reward. And with a bar so low, getting those rewards will be easier and easier. Once you’ve removed the pressure to write a certain amount, the words will start flowing more naturally.
4. Write to Someone Else
This one might sound weird but think about it this way: you already know what you’re going through, so, putting that into words for someone else will force you to explain with details you wouldn’t have included otherwise. Of course, no one will actually be reading it but if you can get your head into that mindset, then elaborating how you’re feeling and why you’re feeling it will come more easily.
5. Forget How It Sounds
This journal is for you and no one else (unless, of course, you want to share it.) But these blank pages are loyal to you. This relationship between the two of you (writer and paper) is exclusive and free of any judgment whatsoever. So, when you put pen to paper, forget structures. Forget any pressure to sound poetic or romantic. Just be you. How you write doesn’t matter—as long as you release in some way, shape, or form.
6. Mix It Up
It’s a freeing thing to keep in mind that you don’t have to write in the same way every day. In fact, you don’t have to write at all. There are some days that I just doodle something onto paper, date it, and close the journal. Other days I scrawl a few lines of a poem that really spoke to me. Sometimes, I make lists of things to be grateful for. The point is, when I really can’t get my thoughts or feelings out and onto paper, then I just find a different mode of expression. It removes the pressure to release everything in my head.