The Benefits of Journaling (+ How to Get Started)
On the first day of 2018, I purchased a journal.
I’m not a big believer in setting New Year’s resolutions, but I really wanted to give journaling another chance. I have tried journaling before, several times, but could never manage to stick with it. I felt like my own life was way “too boring” to warrant a journal, and plus I really didn’t “have enough time” to actually sit down and write in my journal on a daily basis. I always gave up too soon, and without realizing that journaling is much more than just writing about your day-t0-day life.
However, this year has been different. I journal almost every day now because I have finally discovered that journaling can act as an incredibly useful – and positive – tool.
Here are just a few of the benefits that I’ve noticed that one could gain through journaling:
I have goals, but they are usually either floating around in my mind or written on a random piece of notebook paper, never to be seen again. With a journal, I am able to keep all of my goals in one safe place. Writing down my goals and going into detail with them also makes them seem more real, and I feel like I’ll be more likely to achieve them if I keep coming back to them in my journaling.
This is a bit of an obvious one, but still important. I like the idea of being able to find this journal years later and read through its pages and become transported to a different place and time. I might be writing about things that may seem mundane to me now, but may prove to be significant later in life.
Sometimes I’ll be writing about a problem that I’m dealing with and once I get it all on paper, I can clearly see the answer to whatever problem it is. Through journaling, I am able to examine not only my own feelings but also the perspectives of others. By granting myself this larger picture, I am able to problem-solve much more efficiently.
Journaling is a great way to spark creativity. It can allow you to develop certain ideas or concepts. Writing in a stream-of-consciousness style can also help bring out your creativity. You can also take this a step further and decorate your journal with drawings, stickers, or calligraphy.
My journal is far beyond something to just record my daily life in. It’s also a place to gather inspiration, whether just in my own life or for future creative writing endeavors. Especially for those who enjoy writing stories, jotting down observations or quotes from your everyday life might serve as the basis for your next great piece of creative writing.
Journaling can help you become more organized on both the inside and outside. Writing down your thoughts, feelings, goals, etc. can help you feel like your life is more in order. You can use your journal to help keep other areas of your life organized as well. For example, you could transform your journal into a planner, shopping list, t0-do list, or habit tracker (drinking enough water? exercising on a daily basis? etc.) that can help make your whole life feel a lot more organized.
Even though I’m not penning the great American novel within the pages of my journal (or am I?), I’m definitely writing a lot more ever since I began journaling in earnest. Practice makes perfect and you may begin to see real progress when it comes to mastering your writing style or expanding your everyday vocabulary.
How to Start Journaling
I always thought that to journal, you have to get like a fancy leather-bound journal and write only profound or inspiring things on its pages with an equally fancy pen. That always sounded so intimidating to me. The reality is, your journal can be anything you want.
It can be a fancy leather-bound journal, or it can be an old notebook or even something that you type out online. It can be filled with profound observations or silly scribbles. It can be paragraphs or lists. There can be drawings or charts. You can write in it every day, once a week, or once a month. You don’t have to write a completely chronological and accurate account of your day. You can write about one moment, one person, or maybe one thing that happened to you years ago. You can explore your past, or plan your future. You can utilize the hundreds of journal prompts out there in order to change it up. The possibilities really are endless. You just have to make your journal work for you.
The hardest part is finding the time to journal. But honestly, no matter how busy you are, there is still enough time to journal. Instead of using your free time to scroll mindlessly through your phone, pick up your journal and jot a few thoughts down. Take fifteen minutes in the evening to write. If you only want to journal on a weekly basis, pick the day and the time, and make sure you stick with it. Once you do find the time to write in your journal and realize that you are still able to do everything else you want to do in a day, it becomes much easier to find the motivation to write.
Before you go off to buy your new journal, be sure to submit your work to Sheepshead Review! Our deadline has been extended to March 1, 2018, so it’s not too late to get your work published! You can submit your fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and visual arts work here.