One of the most common questions that those who are beginners to journaling ask is, “What shall I write about?” It’s a good question, but there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. People start journaling for many reasons.
Maybe you want to keep a biographical journal; a record of your life for posterity and something to pass on to the next generation. Perhaps you want to write a creative journal; a place to experiment with ideas for other writing, artistic or craft projects. Many people use journaling as therapy; to explore their most personal thoughts and feelings and find solutions to life’s problems.
Discover and define why you want to write a journal. Once you’ve done that, you’ll have the material for your first journal entry. Write on the first page of your journal why you want to write and what you hope to gain from the practice of journaling.
That’s a great way to get started journaling. Now the trick is to keep going. No-one can tell you what to write next. But the following tips should help you find out what to write every time you want to make a journal entry. How often you keep your journal is up to you, but most people find writing regularly helps develop the habit.
- Make a Bullet List of Ideas
It’s helpful to brainstorm several possible ideas for future journal entries. Jot down a single line or phrase to record each idea as it comes. Don’t judge the ideas or worry about the order they come. Just write them all down. Give yourself a time limit of say, 10 or 20 minutes.
That bullet list can be your second journal entry or you can keep it somewhere else. You can add to the list as often as you wish. When you next want to write, return to the list and look through it. Pick the idea which resonates with you in that moment and write about it.
- Try Free-Writing
All writers experience what’s known as “writer’s block” from time to time. One of the most powerful techniques to overcome the problem of not knowing what to write is to write anything at all. You can even start by writing, “I don’t know what to write about today…” then keep going.
Why not write about how it feels not to know what to write or reflections on what you wrote in the last entry. Write nonsense, a poem, or a story. It doesn’t matter. The secret of free-writing is that once you get going, you’ll find ideas flow and before you know it, you’ll have filled a page or two.
- Use Journaling Software and Writing Prompts
One of the most convenient ways to keep a journal is to use a digital journaling solution. That way you can access your journal anytime you want to make an entry or add to your ideas list, even when you’re out. Digital journaling helps you focus on what you want to write. You can also use images, quotations, or comments from your social media as writing prompts to get started.
It takes time to develop the journaling habit. But it doesn’t have to be difficult. The key is to remember that a journal is a private, safe space in which you can express yourself in any way you wish. No-one is sure what to write at the beginning. These tips should help you get started and once you get started, you’ll find the ideas flow.