These thirteen tips on how to keep a journal on a consistent basis will help you to finally take the steps to have a solid journal practice. If you’ve wondered how to write a journal entry (nearly) every day and fill your notebooks, this article is for you.
Benefits of Journaling
Planning and journaling are important in any strategy for self improvement.
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There are several benefits of journaling. Here are a few:
- Journaling helps you to be mindful of your thoughts and to work through things
- It helps remind you to focus on things that are important in life.
- Journaling can help increase creativity by participating in writing activities daily
- It helps you to manage strong emotions and to make positive changes in your life
The benefits to your mental health and wellness are substantial. If you narrow the benefits down to just being mindful, that is enough.
Make Time To Write To Focus On What’s Important
Have you ever gone through the day and felt discombobulated like you didn’t get anything done and in fact felt like you didn’t have any clear direction? When you are going through the daily grind it’s easy to get stuck in just doing tasks, feeling like everything you have to do is of equal importance.
Stopping to take a moment to reflect on your goals through mindful journaling can make a huge difference in your overall productivity and life strategy. Without focusing on what is truly important, you may find you are going through the motions rather than living your life.
When you discover you are barely living your life, it is time to do something differently.
I chose to start journaling. I use regular journaling and bullet journaling. I wrote this post for you on how to start a bullet journal even if you’re not artistic 🙂
The question is how to write a journal consistently without leaving yet another mostly empty notebook on the shelf.
I used to buy a notebook with full intention of writing daily but then gave up. I may be consistent with journaling for a week or so but then I let it go. I have a cabinet full of notebooks with just a few pages written on. I found that when I stopped writing day to day I gave up completely on that notebook.
Journaling takes some self-discipline and practice but the clarity it can bring to your life makes it so worth it. Journaling can help you think through a lot of complex material. The only way to get ahead and focus on what is important to your life is to take some time to figure out what that is and then come up with a plan to add it to your life.
If you are interested in constantly improving yourself, journaling is one way you can help do this.
How Do I Write A Journal Entry?
There are several ways to write a journal entry. You can do so electronically in a journaling app or word processing program or you can write by hand. I strongly recommend writing by hand when doing your journal entries because it seems to help consolidate things better. It’s just a different experience than what we do on our computers every day.
In either case, since the journal is yours, you can write it in any way that seems to work well for you. I personally like the concept of morning pages talked about in this book. Morning pages uses stream of consciousness journaling where you just write what comes to mind.
At times, my journaling consists of a bunch of lists. I like to make lists and created a post on collections and lists you can add to your journal.
However you decided to write a journal entry, consistency over time is important. You improve over time and you can learn so much from going back and reading past journal entries.
How To Write A Journal Entry (Nearly) Every Day
Here are thirteen ideas for how to write a journal entry (nearly) every day:
Have Some Structure:
Using a journal with structure can help simplify the process, making it much more likely you will stick with it. You can create structure by creating a document template on your computer, by finding journal prompts online, or you could purchase one that is done for you. Really whatever works for you. Here are some examples of structured journals I have tried and liked:
The level of structure that works for you will be something you figure out over time. If you have trouble with starting to write on a blank page, a structured journal may be for you!
Sign up below for a copy of the nightly reflection journal I’ve created to help you reflect on your day and stay mindful of your goals:
Make It Something You Enjoy:
Think about what would make journaling fun for you. For example, part of the reason I like bullet journaling so much is because it allows me the flexibility to do it however I want, including using different color pens, stickers, or anything else I feel like using. So while I mentioned in the last point that I like structure, I need the freedom to make a structure that works for me.
You can make your journal something you enjoy is by using a favorite pen or by adding some other things like stickers to your journal. I love using fountain pens so it is important to me that the paper of my journal can handle the fountain pen ink without leaking through the page. My current journal is a Leucchturm. I really like the paper in this notebook and am able to use most of my pens without significant bleed or ghosting. It is a comfortable notebook to use and it has a pretty cover so I am more likely to want to finish it.
Keep It In A Place That Will Remind You To Use It
I tend to forget about journaling if I don’t see my notebook or have some way to remind myself that it is a thing (dang ADHD). If you plan to journal in the morning before work or in the evening before bed, it makes sense to have your journal and a pen near your bed. You want it to be super accessible. It would not be effective to get in bed and be ready to journal and notice you don’t have a pen to do so with. Who wants to go back to their office to get a pen when already all ready for bed?
Make It Part of A Routine
Have you read the book “The Miracle Morning?” The book talks about creating a morning routine that helps you to have a great day. Journaling is part of that routine and of course when you journal every day as part of a routine it is more likely you’ll do it.
Even without following The Miracle Morning, you can make journaling part of your regular routine. Put it by your toothbrush and do it when you brush your teeth. Hooking it with something else in your routine can help you journal consistently.
Forgive Yourself and Move On
How do you react when you forget to write in your journal? Does it make you want to quit or are you able to pick it up the next day? So many of us are perfectionists who struggle with having missing days in our journals. However, it’s unrealistic to expect yourself to be perfect. If you miss a day, allow yourself to just move on and do the next day. No one will even know.
I find it is important to be really flexible about when I write. For example, I am working on something called “morning pages” from this book which help you to become more creative.
Obviously the words “morning pages” implies that they should be done in the morning. But everyone’s life is different and maybe you aren’t able to do them in the morning consistently. It is important to allow yourself flexibility to get them done when you have time.
You might do them at night, or during your lunch break, or maybe at the end of the day when you are still at work but done for the day. The possibilities are endless. You need to find a way for it to work for you…because REAL LIFE. .
Flexibility is also important in allowing your journal to work for you how you need it. For example, the structure that works for me might change every week. Can you relate? Sometimes you have a week full of appointments while in another week your focus is less on appointments and more on self improvement and reflection. With a bullet journal you can change your structure from week to week. You can do the same in any type of journal. There is nothing wrong with changing the headings on a structured journal to meet your needs.
Set A Goal
One thing I really love (and hate) about the morning pages is you have to do three pages every day. Three pages can feel like a lot when you have nothing to say, but having a goal of a certain amount that needs to be written helps me to just do it, and sometimes having to do that third page helps me to start writing about things I need to pay attention to.
Set A Goal, But Allow Flexibility
The key to getting these three pages done is you can write about anything you want during that time. You can write about how you have nothing to write if you really want to. This helps to get it done because it feels less overwhelming. It doesn’t feel like a chore when you can fill the page with junk if you really want to. Who knows, the junk might turn into gems in the future!
In fact, you may wish to add a little more creativity to your journal. Along with writing whatever strikes you without any rules, you could also choose different mediums such as adding drawings, stickers, taping in pictures, or whatever you feel like doing. It is your journal and all of this stuff can help you to reach whatever goals you have with journaling. For me the goal is to increase creativity and to be more mindful of life. Adding some creativity helps with both of these goals.
One thing that can be helpful is to track your journaling practice in your bullet journal using a habit tracker. Essentially think of it as a bunch of little boxes that you get to color in each day with pretty colors to show that you did what you intended to do each day. This helps you to be consistent because you won’t want to break the chain of all your colored boxes and have an empty box.
Stop Trying To Make It Sound Good
Here is a huge one. Your journal is not the place to write beautiful prose. Your journal is a place just to write whatever. If you want to make something sound or look good, you can make your bullet journal pretty, write blog posts, or just write something else.
Don’t check your grammar or edit your work. You need to try not to censor as you write.
I’m actually not going to read my writing until I have been journaling for a month. I like the idea of reflecting on my writing and seeing if there is growth, especially given my goals, but I don’t want to get caught up in reading what I wrote and then judging and correcting myself.
Make Sure Your Journal Is Private
You have to either trust others won’t read it or hide it. You need a place to truly reflect on things without worrying what other people will think. Maybe you’re angry with your spouse. You should be able to work through that in your journal if need be without the fear of hurting his feelings. If you are worrying while you are writing that someone will read your journal, then it probably won’t be that helpful.
For my own goals of increasing creativity and becoming more mindful of life, I need to be able to use the journal time to talk to myself since I have a hard time focusing. I need to know no one will read it. (So if my husband or mom is on my blog right now, please don’t read my journal no matter how tempting it is).
If you have to hide your journal, it will be a little harder to keep it in a place where you will remember to use it. If this is your situation, I recommend putting some other thing that will be a reminder of your intention to journal. For example, you could tape a quote to the wall that serves as a signal for you to remember to journal, or maybe something like a pen on your pillow.
So in summary, here are things to work on when trying to learn how to write a journal entry (nearly) daily:
- Have some structure
- Make It Something You Enjoy
- Keep It In A Place That Will Remind You To Use It
- Make it a part of your routine
- Forgive yourself and move on
- Be flexible
- Set a goal
- Set a goal but allow flexibility
- Be creative
- Stop trying to make it sound good
- Make sure your journal is private
- Start Writing!
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Marlena is the blogger behind apenandapurpose.com, where she writes about using journaling for self improvement and reaching goals in life and business. Using her experience as a Licensed Psychologist with a Master’s in Business, she teaches people how to break through negative thoughts and fear to do what matters. For more about me read my about page.