You may already know all the numerous benefits that come from starting a diary or a journal. It can help to support both your personal and professional life. But you need to make that leap to start journaling, and getting from zero to one is the first hurdle to overcome.
The key aspect is to start thinking about what you want to write about. There’s no wrong topic; just think of something that interests you and start writing about it. Deciding to write and making that commitment will help you begin this journey, and the next steps won’t be so daunting.
Deciding what to write about
You can simply keep a log of your day, write down some interesting foods you ate that day, talk about your workout regime, or put down story ideas. Whatever the topic is, you want to practice journaling and putting down those thoughts onto paper.
No matter what, you will eventually be able to look back and see how you’ve progressed on your journey, which is one of the most essential parts of developing emotional resilience and intellectual strength. These are private thoughts you’re putting into the written word, so your topics should be related to you and not what you think someone else wants you to write about.
When you figure out what you’re going to write about, no matter what, that first journal entry is special. You want to introduce yourself to your journal and write down what the journal will be all about. What is the topic or topics it will hold, and what is the purpose of this diary for you and your personal growth? This is the first step of being open and true to yourself.
Create a dedicated time (and space)
Journaling works best when you stick to a routine. You want to write in your diary starting out at least once a week, then daily, and any other ad hoc moments. Part of that routine is to schedule a specific time when it’s “writing in the journal” time. Stick to it. Don’t create a make-up session or say you’ll get to it next time. This will only lead to breaking away from the routine you’re trying to build up.
When that time is can be dependent on what the topic is. If you’re looking for personal growth, you can select a time when you are about to get ready for bed. If you’re looking at a dream journal, you can write every morning in it (even if you don’t have a dream).
Writing after a workout is also appropriate when the journal is about health and fitness. This helps with adding that additional positive downtime for any hobbies, habits, or personal development you’re working on.
Part of that schedule includes setting a time limit on it. You want to start out small, around 10 minutes or so for the first few entries. Then, as you get more comfortable with formulating your thoughts into writing, you can set the timer to around 30 minutes. Advanced journalists can end up going an hour or more, and that’s okay if that time is consistent per session.
Write in the same fashion for each entry
Even though journaling isn’t really restricted by any rules, as you don’t want to deter yourself from writing, sticking to a particular format can help down the line. If you’re just using the journal to list your thoughts for the day, then write them in bullet point format.
Maybe you want to use your journal as a memory dump and just write all your thoughts, issues, problems, hopes, and dreams continuously in a stream of consciousness onto paper. Or maybe you journal in a list format of what you want to accomplish and what you need to do to get there. Either way, this format helps one get familiar with the content and consistently develop that habit of writing.
You want to make sure that you also date every single entry. Placing a timestamp on any journal entry helps reflect on your journey and see where you are versus where you started. Another item to note is if you want to break it off into sections later on (akin to chapters of a book), that will also help when it comes to breaking up the content you’ve created and later on want to review.
Don’t hold back and challenge yourself
This is your journal writing. That means you want to be able to trust it like you would trust your best friend or loved one. Write what you truly think and feel. Express yourself in whatever method you need to. This is all about honesty and being authentic. After all, if you cannot be honest with yourself, how can you be honest with others? This is a judgment-free zone, and that’s the most important aspect of writing a journey.
Then when you start to trust yourself, you want to ask yourself questions (write them down) and answer them. These questions can help if you’re stuck and can help guide your entries consistently. For example, you want to ask how your emotions are, if you’re accomplishing your goals, whether you are on track to be successful with your target if there’s a problem stopping you from achieving success, and so on.
Try to enjoy yourself
Journaling is a positive hobby through and through. You don’t want to have this seem like a chore. First of all, while you want to try to maintain a specific format, you also want to make sure that you vary what you write about. Maybe one day you will write longer, and another, you will take more time to collect your thoughts before producing something to write. It’s not about adding chaos to your journaling, but actually quite the opposite, and working to refine to what eventually helps to become your style.
Your creativity will start to go into overdrive after a consistent amount of entries in your journal. That means try to also make sure to have fun while you write. This is your ‘me’ time and a place to go on your own adventure or simply have peace of mind without the need to have your thoughts diverge somewhere else, such as thinking about a problem you may have been trying to resolve or whatever that next project in work is due. Leave that world behind and enter into your own personal world that you have created by journaling.
Use the right tech!
Sometimes all you need to start is a pen and a notebook. That could be a way to begin your journey, but the issue is that most of us are on the move, and physical items such as actual journals can get lost or damaged. So work with the right type of technology that can help to collect and organize your thoughts into a journal and be in the cloud, so there’s no fear of losing your progress anytime.
A great app to start this journey is Diaro App, which comes with both a web and mobile application so you can set the schedule you want whenever and wherever is best for you to start writing down your thoughts and journaling.