10 Secrets to Consistent Journaling
From Setting Up a Journaling Practice to Writing Daily, These Tips Will Help You Cultivate a Regular Practice
While journaling daily is excellent in theory, it can be difficult to maintain on a regular basis. Life demands a lot of us: from work, appointments, family, responsibilities and other things that seem like more fun than writing.
However, it is a vital practice for centering ourselves, learning about ourselves and relieving stress. It serves as a record, provides a memory aid, and gives us a place to let everything out that we can’t say.
Daily journaling is essential to good mental health. So, can we get more consistent with it on a regular basis? What happens on those days that we don’t feel like it, don’t have much to say, or don’t have the motivation?
There are ways to work around all of the above suggestions. There is a way to keep at the consistent practice of journaling if we commit to it.
Focus On Your Why
The first question to ponder when deciding to daily journal is why you want to do it. The why will change over time throughout seasons.
However, let’s focus on the now. Do you want to journal as a sense of stress relief? As a way to keep memories from the ordinary and extraordinary events of life? To tap into your creative genius?
For any kind of project we undertake, experts suggest we know why we want to start the project. The why is important because it motivates us, inspires us and keeps us going on the days that seem tougher to stick at the habit, routine or project.
Take a few minutes before beginning to develop this habit to decide what your why is. Your why could be a lot of different things. For this routine, it’s okay to have more than one why.
My why for journaling has always been because it is one of my best weapons in my mental health journey. It reminds me of better days, lets me get frustration out and lets me dive deep into my own struggles. It serves as a record for times that I’ve gone through what I’m battling at the current moment.
My second why only occured to me when I met my boyfriend. He has an incredible memory. He remembers things that happened 15–20 years ago with perfect clarity. Also, ask him about a baseball game that happened back in 1978… he’s got you covered. Ask him which football player went to a local high school, he’s got it covered.
I have trouble some days remembering what I ate for breakfast or what happened two weeks ago. So, a huge why for me going into 2020 was to become a memory keeper. To be able to look back through the records at any time and remember the important things that have occured.
Do It Early
When something is important to us, we tend to make it a priority. An easy, no frills way to do this is to work on it early in the day when we have a lot of motivation and energy. By doing it early, there is less of a chance of hitting the sack at night while forgetting to do it.
Habit stacking is the art of building habits on top of other habits to create a sequence. As humans, we tend to stack habits without thinking about it. For example, if every morning you get a shower and then towel off, get dressed and brush your teeth, that’s a habit stack.
The best way to introduce any new routine into your life is to take the habit and put it between two already established habits. Purposely choose to put it into a sequence.
My favorite way to habit stack is to read something motivational in the morning, write in my gratitude journal, write on another topic for 10–30 minutes and then get dressed. We all have our own stacked habits. Find out what works for you.
Set Up Reminders
If you decide that you want to write multiple times a day, a good practice is to set reminders. Reminders can be set on the cell phone as an appointment or alarm. Reminders can be set through a daily planner by marking it down as a to-do item. Even keeping a journal close to you can serve as a powerful reminder to get it done.
Leave In a Consistent, Accessible Place
There is a certain power in assigning things places in our lives. It shows that we value them and that they are important to us.
The question is where to leave the journal we are working in. Leaving it in a consistent place that is easy to access serves as a reminder and we know exactly where to find it when we want it.
This place could be anywhere: in a drawer at our desk, by our bed (mine is kept on top of a narrow bookshelf that sits right next to my bed), in the car so it’s easily accessible at all times or in the kitchen for morning coffee and journaling sessions.
If this sounds great, but the question is what to do when we really don’t want to sit down and write or squeeze another thing into our daily life, there are a few secrets to ways to get motivated.
Set a Timer
Not every journaling session has to be long. Even small amounts can help to establish our why and get something important on paper. Set a timer for ten minutes, five minutes or even 2 minutes. Stop when the buzzer rings. Keep your hand moving. Don’t edit. My guess is that the most difficult part will be actually stopping when that bell rings.
Vary Lengths of Entries
The idea of morning pages has been around for awhile. The concept is writing 3 pages- front and back when we wake up first thing. However, that is not the only way to journal.
Another method that is just as valid, is to do a bulleted list and write down something that inspires us. This list can be anything- ideas of what to write about, shopping lists, key points for the day ahead, itineraries or even just a short gratitude list. Ending on an inspiring note keeps it both positive and fresh.
One of my favorite short forms of writing is the one-sentence journal. I have a friend who is also a writer. When she told me her daily resolution is to write one sentence a day, I was in doubt. However, sometimes that one sentence is the key to what we plan to write in the future. One sentence journaling helps to get to the heart of the matter or to capture the best part of a memory.
The key here is to just get something on the page. Whether we choose to elaborate or not, to write a sentence or a chapter a day, getting something on the page can help us to tap into things later or simply to keep the best part of the day centered in mind.
If stuck for motivation, use prompts
When we try to write day after day, it’s possible to hit a wall occasionally. There are many great prompts out there, both as blog posts or in book format that will jog our creativity. On my blog, www.octoberdaydreams.net, I’ve had a running series for months where I list 21 questions that are themed by month of the year.
Writing to a prompt is not a weakness. There are times that prompts help us to see things we might not have otherwise. They cause us to dive deeper into an issue that we may have been putting off for long stretches of time. It encourages creativity to answer the questions put in front of us.
If struggling with boredom, make it fun
There are a lot of different ways to make journaling fun. Sometimes the smallest thing, like using color ink instead of blue or black is enough to make the change. There’s the option to draw it out if drawing intrigues you. Art therapy relies heavily on creating as a form of therapy and can be done through art journaling. Finally, using creativity in lettering can go a long way to making the act of journaling fun.
If you hate writing things out… try these instead
In addition to using art journaling as a primary method of writing, there are also technological methods. There are apps on every phone that make writing easier. Some of my personal favorites are: JournalIt!, Notebook Pro (for lists) and Gratitude 365- which keeps track of the days gratitude was journaled. Each phone also comes with a voice recorder. This comes in handy for times when writing down things would take too much time, but can be transcribed later in a different format.
The art of journaling is an enjoyable routine. It can be used for a variety of purposes- including recording important events and thinking through the seasons of life. An ongoing journaling practice is key to great self care and is vital for emotional wellness. Using the tips above, a journaling ritual should be easier to establish and stick to.
Thank you for reading.
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