Just like it might be possible to eat inhumanly healthy for a good while until a really attractive donut calls your name, it can be easy to get into the journaling rhythm and then, without warning, stop. Even as an English major, I am not acquainted with many people who journal or admit to journaling.
In my experience, writing in a journal is a personally intimate act. It is a chance to release my stream of consciousness – the unshared soundtrack of my life. The bottom drawer of my desk is partially dedicated to old journals. Once in a blue moon I will pull them out, read, laugh and remind myself who I was and who I am.
The following is my advice to those who wish to take up journaling or enrich their current journaling practice:
Try to write every day. If I could get back the added minutes it took for me to say, “I have no time” as much as I have in my life, I would probably have enough time to write a solid journal entry. The key word here: “try.” The more often you write, the more often you liberate your thoughts. So kudos to you if you journal every day for the rest of your life, but also kudos to you if you don’t. One of the best things about journaling is that there is no deadline. There are no rules.
Write what you want to write. Some days my entries are as simple as a quotation I read in a book. Then there are days when I have to switch to a new pen because the one I was writing with has run dry from my frantic, can’t-get-all-the-words-out-quick-enough, need to write. A one-sentence entry can be just a meaningful as the one that omits margins.
Forget the judge. While writing an entry, sometimes I hear the editor in me red-flagging spelling and grammatical errors. Or worse, I’ll write something I think is childish, selfish, or unintelligent and then stop. When you experience your inner judge, you might help yourself by not reading over what you’ve written, at least not while you are in the midst of the entry. When you do get in your own way, remind yourself that yours are the only eyes that will ever see what you’ve written (as long as you have a dependable hiding spot). If someone does happen to come across something you’ve written that they shouldn’t have read, well, it should hopefully teach them not to snoop. What you have to say matters for you, and when it comes to your journal, you’re your most important reader.
Creative Writing Specialist