For a long time, I did not keep a journal. Oh, I would start them often, write for a few weeks, and then I would go back, read one of the entries, and be so horrified by what I had written (and usually how poorly I had written it), that I would vow never to keep a journal again.
In the last several years, however, I have found keeping a journal to be very beneficial for a number of reasons. Journaling allows me to have a thorough record of all of my thoughts and ideas. This is so helpful for my writing because even passing thoughts can spark creativity. I’ve also found journaling to be very therapeutic; allowing me to get thoughts out of my head and down on paper. It is helpful for me to review my previous entries, and remember how I felt or thought about a certain event.
Here is how I have made journaling work for me:
I keep several different journals:
This won’t work for everyone, but I have found it immensely helpful to have different journals for different aspects of my life. I have a journal for ideas, creative projects, and collaborations. I have a different journal that I call my ‘Daily Download’ journal. In it I write down every thought I have in my head at that moment. I allows me to get thoughts out of my head, and onto paper so I can see them, and organize them. A third journal is for personal entries. I try and write in it every morning, and its usually a summary of the events of the previous day, and my feelings about those events. My fourth journal is a reading journal, chronicling what I’m currently reading, and my thoughts on those readings.
I write in the morning:
I like to journal most in the morning. I find this particularly helpful for several reasons. The first is that I need to sleep on things that are troubling me. I find that a good night’s sleep allows me to reflect on how important something truly is. If I’m still bothered by it in the morning, I know it’s something that needs to be addressed. Another reason that I like to journal in the morning, is because it now feels like part of my routine. I like to have a leisurely morning and to not feel rushed, and so I’ve found journaling to be a great way to start my day. I have a cup of coffee, write in my journal, and watch the sunrise before I head off to work.
I review what I’ve written:
I find it very helpful to go back and read over previous journal entries. It’s not something I do regularly – perhaps once a month, but it helps me to keep track of how I thought, or felt or certain events, and it lets me take stock of my personal growth. It’s also helpful for me to go over my Idea Journal on a regular basis, and see which ideas and passing thoughts I can take and work on. I have found some gems in there over the years, from seemingly inconsequential thoughts I’ve had.
Do you journal? What tips and tricks do you use to make the most of journaling?