Why Journal?

If you’re the type of person who loves to plan out your day, week, or month, journaling is a natural process. Maybe you like to keep lists, or want to keep track of all the movies you’ve been watching. There are lots of good reasons to keep a journal, and tons of methods on how to do so effectively. 

However, journaling has another benefit. It creates a moment of quiet reflection that can help you to organize your thoughts and feelings. In uncertain and anxiety-ridden times like these, it can be hard to put your mood into words, but once you start writing (or sketching if that’s more your scene!) you’ll discover that there is a cathartic release in trying to describe those feelings. Not only can it help you to clear your mind, it can reduce stress and anxiety and help you to see patterns about yourself that lead to self-improvement. It also leads to improvement in memory and can help you track your personal growth.

Ms. K's Journaling Experience

When I was young, I wanted desperately to be one of those people that kept a diary. I had all sorts of little notebooks; some with lines, and some without, some with little locks that were easy to break. But, try as I might, I could never really get into it. The classic “Dear Diary” structure was stifling and I’d lose interest… that is, until I found another pretty notebook and started the whole process over again. It was only when I embraced the idea that my journal doesn’t have to have a specific structure that I really got into it. Suddenly, journaling was a pleasure, instead of a chore. I could write as much or as little as I wanted, and it definitely didn’t have to form a narrative. Instead, I could put in reminders of my daily tasks, add favorite quotes, and if I felt like it, write a couple of sentences about my day. 

For me, it’s the quiet time I give myself at the end of my day that lets me reflect and meditate on myself and my world. It is a relaxing, fun, and creative outlet that I can shape to my own personal liking. In our busy world, taking that little bit of time to journal gives me the opportunity to focus on myself in a way that is productive and relaxing. It is one of the best parts of my day.

So, give it a try! Check out my top ten tips for successful journaling!

Ms. K's Top Ten Journaling Tips

List of 10 items.

  • 1. THERE IS NO WRONG WAY TO JOURNAL.

    This is your space, to do with it what you will. It can be as ornate, or as minimalist as you choose. You can fill it with colors and drawings, or keep it simple and straightforward. Try bullet journaling, if that’s what works for you, or just keep a daily or weekly log.
  • 2. Think about what kind of journal you want to have.

    Are you really artistic and plan to sketch, draw or watercolor? A heavier stock of paper (that is, the weight or thickness of the paper) is probably the right choice. Interested in creative writing? A lined journal is a great choice. Not entirely sure what you want from your journal? Try a dotted journal, which will give you the freedom to create… with a little help from the structured dots. 
  • 3. Use a journal with numbered pages, or number the pages yourself.

    This will make it easier when you want to go back and find information.
  • 4. Think of your journal as a catch-all for your thoughts, plans, moods, and daily activities.

    Track habits, or expenses. Keep a running list of the films you’ve watched, or the books you’ve read. Plan out your homework schedule, or monitor the way you feel. Anything that you want to remember, or keep track of, has a place in your journal.
  • 5. There’s lots of ways to track time… make a daily spread, weekly, or monthly!

    Whatever works best for you and your schedule.
  • 6. There’s no right length to an entry.

    Maybe it’s just a list of things you have to do today. Maybe you want to write about how you’re feeling, or about a particular thing that happened. Your journal needs as much, or as little information as you want to put in it.
  • 7. Be creative!

    Look into online tutorials for hand-lettering, watercolor, or doodling to supplement your pages. Add stickers, glue in photos or tickets, strips of paper, or decorate with washi tape. There are huge journaling communities online that will help to inspire you…Try a monthly doodle challenge! Find a theme that you love, and try and recreate it! 
  • 8. The beauty of a journal is that it is flexible.

    Want to add a list of favorite songs or movies? Quotes or lyrics you love? A favorite recipe, or poem? Add it in there! Don’t worry about things getting lost because…
  • 9. Keep an index!

    Many of the bullet journals that are out there feature pages at the front or back dedicated to writing an index. But, if your journal doesn’t have that, it’s easy to add an index at the front or back. Simply write in the page number, and what the page is about and it’s easy to find everything.
  • 10. Most importantly, HAVE FUN!

    Your journal is just for YOU. You might make some mistakes, and that’s ok! The important thing is to think of the journal as your personal, private space. You are completely in charge of it, and it will change as you use it. 
Did You Know?
Keeping a log of thoughts and events has an ancient history. Early travelers often kept a record of their journeys in a type of log known as a Travel Diary, which were sometimes printed or shared to form the genre of the Travelogue. Many famous historical figures (and plenty of lesser known ones!) faithfully kept personal journals, including the 17th century political figure Samuel Pepys, whose diary is considered one of the most valuable records of the English Restoration. Charles Darwin, Anne Frank, Marie Curie, Frida Kahlo, and more all kept diaries. 
Another style of journal is the Commonplace Book. This ancient format was popularized in the Renaissance, and remained popular through the 19th century. A commonplace book is a collection of quotes, passages, recipes, proverbs, etc., usually organized by theme – love, ethics, music, etc. Sometimes these were just favorite quotes, other times these books were collections of notes for scholarly purposes. Similar to the commonplace book is the Chrestomathy, which can be either a collection of literary passages from a single author, or a collection of passages in a foreign language meant to help the reader practice learning a new language. 
Journaling has never really gone out of fashion, but the look of journals has changed significantly over the years. There are Dream JournalsArt JournalsPrayer JournalsFood and Exercise JournalsReading Journals, etc. One popular type is the Bullet Journal, which uses easy symbols and streamlined lists to help organize daily plans. And, of course, there’s the still the classic “Dear Diary.”