How do you do journaling?
You’ve seen the advice: Keep a journal! It’ll help you make more money, get a better job, improve your relationships—it will change your life!
Why not try it?
You will never know what journaling might do for you unless you give it a go. So go!
Here’s how to start a journal:
- Start recording your thoughts.
Ultimately journaling is simply recording your thoughts. You can write them down with a pen in a paper notebook. You can record them as audio files. You can type them into your phone or computer. It doesn’t so much matter the medium you choose so long as you begin.
Experiment until you find something that works for you.
Try one method and if you don’t like it, move on to another. There are plenty out there, but don’t get distracted with reading about journaling until you have actually made at least three entries into your first attempt at a journal.
If you’ve tried keeping a journal in the past
…and haven’t been able to make it stick as a habit, experiment with these three methods:
If you’ve never tried to journal before
…and don’t know where to begin, then follow these instuctions:
- Without moving from where you are what can you use to record your thoughts? If you have a notebook and pen handy, great. But more likely you are reading this off of your phone or computer.
- Open a document, notes file, or even a text message to yourself. Or, you know, use that notebook if you actually have one within reach.
- Start writing, typing, or dictating. Yep. Speech-to-text totally counts as journaling! If you don’t know what to write, say so. Literally write down, “I don’t know what to write.” Then write why you decided you wanted to try journaling in the first place.
- Keep writing whatever thoughts come into your head. Even if the only thought you’re thinking is, “This feels stupid.” Write that. Over and over. Eventually you’ll get bored and come up with something more interesting to write.
These four steps are called Stream of Consciousness writing. It’s a real thing that “real” writers do all the time as a form of journaling, to get unstuck, or to simply have a little fun. Here’s a sample of some of my own stream of consciousness writing:
This isn’t the only way I journal. Sometimes I write with a specific goal in mind. Sometimes I write to remember a particular idea or event. Sometimes what starts as a personal journal entry ends up turning into a public article like this one or an email to my list.
The number-one thing I want you to remember is this:
Stop overthinking. Start journaling.
It doesn’t have to be hard. It doesn’t have to be perfect. And it certainly doesn’t have to done in any one particular way.
So what are you waiting for?