By Ashley Hooker, Crosswalk.com
How many of us want to start journaling but can’t see ourselves sitting each day writing page after page of poetic musings on paper? Does the thought of having to purchase those frilly, colorful journals create a feeling of displeasure? If your answer is yes, then you must continue reading.
Journaling is one of many ways to get happy thoughts, worries, and daily struggles from your brain to some other outside source. In our time together, we are going to think about the purpose of journaling and bust the myths that surround it. Finally, I am giving you my best tips to begin journaling and letting you in on the different types of journals on the market.
What Is the Purpose of Journaling?
The definition of journaling is most often associated with the diary that all little girls keep, except for me. It is an action of writing your deepest thoughts in a book filled with blank pages. Well, I think it’s time to take another look at the purpose of journaling.
Journaling is actually just taking some time to meditate on life. It is a time of reflection on how your day, week, or even month has gone. You can assess how well things are going and what you could be doing better. You can reflect on your blessings and what you learned from your mistakes.
The act of journaling is a brilliant way to relieve yourself of the worries and daily struggles we face. Its purpose is to keep your focus on the good things of life and let the worries have another place to land.
Before we get to the tips, let’s take a moment to address the myths surrounding the habit of journaling.
Our first myth is that you need a pen and beautifully designed journal. Wrong! You actually don’t need a pen and paper at all. Our world has the technology that makes journaling easier now than in the past. We can keep our journals on a computer, tablet, or even your smartphone. Some people find it easier to type their thoughts faster than writing them. Of course, it is still okay to write your thoughts with pen and paper.
The next myth says we must set aside a time each day to write in our journals. Again, this is not the case. You do not have to write in your journal daily. I must admit, I don’t write in mine daily. If you prefer a weekly “post,” that is perfectly fine. Your journal is yours and you can use it any way you feel beneficial.
The last myth we need to address regards handwriting. The idea that you must use whimsical cursive handwriting in your journal is hilarious. Why should our handwriting be beautiful if we are writing of our ugly state? If you want cursive, great. If you want sloppy, that’s okay too.
Tips to Begin Journaling
To make journaling a habit, you must start. So, let me share a few tips to help you get started and created a beneficial habit in your life.
1.Write for Your Eyes Only
Journaling is personal; therefore, you write whatever you desire. You have the security that no one else will be reading your words. You can be completely open on the pages of your journal.
2. Make your Journal Messy
Don’t believe that you must write beautiful prose on each page. Handwriting does not matter. Maybe add some doodle drawings to each page. Even if someone looked in my journals, they probably would not understand anything. There are times I write out prayers and there are moments I draw flowers.
Oftentimes our thoughts are jumbled and that is reflected on the page. The great news is that is okay!
3. Schedule Journal Time
When you decide how often you want to journal, schedule it. Write it on your calendar and stick to it. Eventually, it will become a habit.
4. Check Out Various Environments for Journaling
Personally, I like to journal each night after I am tucked into bed. If that would not work for you, try something else. Maybe you like writing in the morning over a cup of coffee or during your lunch hour at work.
5. Experiment with Different Journaling Techniques
There are no two people the same. What works for me may not work for sure. Experiment with different techniques and find what works for you. If you’re not a writer, you can make a list of what is good or what needs help in your life. Some people like to draw pictures or use paint to create visuals in their journals.
6. Use Writing Prompts
Sometimes, I just don’t know what to write. I stare at the page and click my pen for what seems like hours. In this case, writing prompts can be helpful. It is helpful to keep a list of prompts in your journal or on your journal app.
7. Make Journaling Fun
This is most likely the most important tip I can give you. When your journal, make it a pleasurable experience. Like I said before, I like being tucked into bed with a bedside lamp to set the mood. Some people enjoy grabbing a cup of coffee and sitting on the couch. In warm weather, you could sit outside with a cold beverage.
Types of Journals to Choose From
There are numerous types of journals on the market today. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and designs. Depending on what your like, there is something for everyone.
If you enjoy prayer journaling, you may like a journal that has scripture included. One of my favorites right now is the Good Morning God journal. I am changing my routine up a bit and so far, so good. This journal has scripture for each day and a place to write your prayer. It also includes room to write using the prompt “God is good because.”
Another option is choosing a journal that supports your artist side. My daughter loves to doodle and draw objects that inspire her. Her journal is one that has thick blank pages. It is small so she can carry it in her bag. She loves carrying it to dance and drawing during her breaks to help her relax.
Other types of journals include a bullet journal where you can list thoughts or events you’ve had throughout your day or week. There are spiral bound journals and hardback journals. Your options are endless. Sometimes a plain college-ruled notebook works well for me.
For the tech-savvy individual, there are numerous journal apps to choose from. Windows users can utilize Diarium while a Mac/IOS user might like the Day One app. The Five Minute Journal app is perfect for beginners and non-writers will love Daylio.
Whatever type of journal you choose should reflect you. It should make you want to open the pages and write out your thoughts. Journaling is a personal and creative way to take care of yourself and reflect on life. It is that secret place where you lay everything out on paper or computer with the security that only you and God know about it.
Psalm 119:15 says, “I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.” That is the power of journaling. It is a way to meditate on God’s word and His goodness. We can be forever reminded of what He has done for us and what we could not do without Him.
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/yokeetod
Ashley Hooker is a freelance writer who spends her time homeschooling her two children, ministering alongside her husband as he pastors a rural church in West Virginia, and writing about her faith. Currently, she is a contributing author for Journey Christian magazine. She has taken part in mission trips with the NC Baptist Men during the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey in Mississippi and Texas. In her local church, she has served on various committees focusing in the area of evangelism along with traveling to West Virginia and Vermont to share the Gospel. Her dream is to spend her time writing and sharing the love of Christ with all she meets.