"I want to start journaling but I can't seem to get started..."
Over the past years, I have talked with a lot of people who really want to start a journaling habit but do not know how to begin. I found out that a main obstacle holding people back is one or several of these myths about journaling:
My writing has to look perfect (and my handwriting is too ugly).
I have to write every day.
I have to write about everything I experience
If the same goes for you, please begin by discarding those beliefs immediately. They will only set you up for failure! Remember, journaling is for you and only for you. A place where performance and judgement can take a break. Journaling offers incredible benefits, so consider it a gift you give yourself.
For me personally, journaling is the ultimate act of self-care. A time where I am in a state of flow, whether I write about difficult emotions or plan a new garden layout. Most importantly: it ALWAYS improves my mood.
Begin your writing by noting down any negative beliefs that hold you back - and then decide to throw them away. Unless you are participating in a handwriting competition it does not matter how your writing looks. Write everyday? Sure, if you want to. But journaling is not a chore: journaling is self-care. And it's totally up to you when you want to take that time. I journal 3-4 times a month, sometimes more, sometimes less.
Some people write every day and enjoy writing about everything they experience. That's fine - but you do not have to do that. I personally find that both tiring and boring. My journal is a mix of scrapbooking, mood boards, my inner thoughts and feelings, small creative projects. I'll share some more inspiration below.
What to Write About
There are several ways of journaling. Let me share a few:
Scrapbooking: preserving and presenting my personal and my family's history - what we did, where and with whom. Typical memorabilia include photographs, printed media, and artwork. I mostly use this method when I go on vacation but also for weekend trips (if I feel inspired, that is!).
When I travel, I pick up flyers and brochures from the places I have visited, I save tickets and business cards. On evenings and rainy days I love looking through everything and cutting out nice images, text bites, small maps etc. I make small stories about where I have been and what I have done. So much fun to make - and heart-warming to look back at later!
If you like this method but need a guiding hand, check out my Travel Journal or my Memories Journal.
Free Writing: letting my thoughts flow. Getting things out. Just putting pen to paper and seeing what comes out. I use this method quite often and I mostly do not know what to write about before I begin. I just start writing...
If you like the idea of writing freely about different topics but feel uninspired check out my Reflections Journal which contains different prompts for every new journal entry.
Art Journaling / Moodboarding: Sometimes my thoughts flow more easily in a visual format. Instead of writing much, I make sketches, collages, doodles and mood boards. I long for Spring and I make a collage about outdoor life: flowers, garden furniture, recipes etc. Or I want to make a poster for my daughter's room and I explore color schemes and illustration ideas. Visual journaling boosts my creativity and gives me a judgement-free space to create without worrying about publishing my work. And I can listen to podcasts while I journal! I use a dot grid notebook as my journal or one with blank pages. This makes every kind of journaling possible and the dots in the dot grid provide guidelines for keeping things in line.
Gratitude Journaling: journaling about the things you are thankful for is a very powerful technique that can benefit your mental and physical well-being in several ways. It can be done as simply as listing three things you are grateful. I do not make lists but include it in my free writing. The important thing is that you should not rush through it but rather take your time to deep dive into the experience and emotions connected to your gratitude.
If you want to start a gratitude routine and focus solely on this I have designed the Gratitude Journal with eight different prompts to get your thoughts flowing.
Lists: When I want to organize or track anything I make lists. It can be related to goals, dreams and plans and they challenge me to dive deeper into a topic. Lists are quick to write and fun to make - and the format is good if you find free writing a little intimidating. I often make a creative frame for my list, which is great fun too.
and many more... there are many more ways of journaling, here are just a few ideas and inspiration from my own journaling practice. My own journal is a mix of all the above - the format depends on my mood. Use Instagram or Pinterest to gather further inspiration. And bear in mind: there is no right or wrong. It is your playground and your rules!