There’s no easy way to say this: you just have to start.
Thankfully, there are infinite number of ways to start journaling.
In fact, I had to stay off Pinterest when I was taking journaling back up six years ago. It was painful. I thought I had designed or doodled or written something that felt significant and then I would go online and the Envy demon would flare it’s green irises at me and I’d feel ashamed to feel proud of such mediocre work… which would put me off doing it.
So, I stopped that and I banned all mention of journaling on Pinterest-for awhile.
Remember, when you start something new the first time, imagine you are a child learning something as if you’d never experienced it before. This is the time to be ignorant about process and just start exploring to find out what strikes your fancy, explore themes and routines.
Save your favourite exercises.
Maybe to Pinterest.
Just don’t compare what you are doing to anyone else. It’s dangerous. You have a totally different brain than anyone else on this earth. Even twins have different brains. Your brain is as unique as your fingerprint and you should treat it as such. No one knows the best way your brain works unless we’re talking about you. How you and your brain need to process or experience things must be in your own time and in your own way.
Like learning algebra, sometimes a skill doesn’t translate the same between everyone.
If I told you my routine, you might mimic it hoping it would help inspire or feed you creativity, but the opposite is true. You are in fact imitating, which is sincerely flattering, but a person who imitates is merely taking the placebo of journaling. To get everything out of journaling you can, you really have to measure the following:
Why are you journaling?
What do you hope to accomplish, if anything. And no-you don’t have to aim to accomplish anything at all. It can be your brain dumping ground, like the waste management system your brain needs to feel okay about forgetting things, as long as You know why you’re journaling. Don’t do it blind, be aware and present. Trust yourself to know what’s good for you.
What style of journaling will work best for you?
What’s Your Style? Have you ever read The Five Love Languages? In the same way that we speak different emotional languages, so too do we all have different ways of learning and taking in knowledge-even in our own brain. Find out how you communicate best, then tap into it. If you’re a sketcher at heart, get an art journal or make one. If you are a writer, then get a notebook.
There are many styles to journaling
A style is just an individual preference. For example, do you like lined pages to write on, plain, dot-grids or drafting grids? These are personal preferences. If you prefer to have the freedom of sketching, painting or other, then consider a plain or subtle dot-grid (bulleted) journal style. If you like to practice handwriting, calligraphy, or font design, then you might prefer the dot-grid (bulleted) or graph style of paper.
|What kind of surface do you need?
|Will plain paper work or will you need something that will take to watercolours, oils, or pastels better?
|Do you want texture or none?
|What about ghosting, page to page, as you write with your preferred pen, pencil, or stylus du jour?
Regardless, pick something that’s going to work for the widest range of your skill sets.
Journaling folks are constantly changing their mind and adapting to how they live their life. Sometimes your lifestyle might even get in the way of carrying on, or you may become so enamoured with journaling that you never put it down so that you are buried with that last journal… Here's to hoping.
Keep this in mind and allow yourself to shed journaling habits or routines that do not serve you anymore.
What’s Affordable? What’s the budget?
This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Do not take up alcohol-ink-based colouring unless you expect to drop hundreds of dollars to keep it up.
Same with journaling. Do not reach for trends and spend where you don’t need to. Putting your story down is easiest if it just feels like you.
If you need to have a unicorn diary with a fluffy pen to write – then I’m glad you’re that self-aware, but if the diary is $49.99 and you’ve got $20.99 to live off for the remainder of the month, then be sure to adjust according to the reality of your situation.
If physical notebooks are scary because you have family or friends that won’t give you the privacy you need, then fear not! Try using your phone / mobile.
Not everyone can afford this option, but if you have a phone anyway, you might as well get the best bang for your buck. I’ve been able to simplify my apps and bills by getting fancier with my phone:
- There are specialty apps for that. Search yourself. I don’t use journaling or diary apps and neither am I sponsored by any! (wink)
- There’s notebooks in your phone that come with the basic software if you have a mobile. Otherwise, if you already have a note or word processing style subscription, like say to Office, Evernote, Google Docs, then these are all resources that many mobile phones have apps for now as well. You can take notes and save them there on the cloud and refer back to them on other devices through the privacy of your log in.
- Voice recording notes are a great way that I’ve been able to capture my thoughts more concisely. I don’t always like typing, while I am a fast keyboardist (old term for typing), I am much faster at thinking. Voice notes allows me to spew all the things I want to say in a way that captures tone, inflection, and can easily and affordably be transcribed by apps or myself when I am ready to tackle that task. Otherwise, audio files actually keep up the long tradition of oral story telling and the therapeutic affect of saying things out loud, literally in the open.
- Finally there’s the speak to text method. I love to hit that diction button next to the typing window on my iPhone 11 Pro Max and letting it write for me. I’ve learned to dictate to the speed of the auto transcription, but it slows me down more. This one is great for those moments where I can’t remember how to type. Brain Fog is one of those symptoms of Fibromyalgia and this is how I can deal with it.
Finally, when you sit to write, draw or whatever the hell it is you’re planning on doing to that poor piece of mulched tree, don’t be scared.
Don’t hold back. Just go.
Write any letter that looks pretty.
Write part of your favourite song just to get your pen moving… and when the lyrics run out, start talking about how that song makes you feel, or why it’s your favourite.
In order to be sure that you won’t restrain, follow some of these easy basic needs for being “prepared” to write.
| You need a place to put the stuff you create, like a notebook or sketch pad. Got one?
|You need something to create with, a pen, a paintbrush, a dagger, whatever – just get one.
|You need somewhere you can “work” without getting too Why? Well, let’s just say that I’ve tried to write while comfortable one too many times. It’s not all that productive.
| and finally...
You need to have all the emotions covered and not be in need:
Are you Hungry, Thirsty, Angry, Lonely, Tired, or in Pain?
Maybe now is not the time to write?
Maybe you need to deal with those feelings by eating a sandwich.
Writing can help with anger, loneliness, and sometimes even pain… but hunger/thirst and fatigue are easily solved. In fact, if you make sure your drink has a little caffeine (if you can tolerate it) you might even have a slightly easier time with the task.
Likewise, if you are in pain, dealing with the pain is tantamount to self-care and maintaining your body. Think of dealing with pain as being as important as going to the gym.
Pain wears us down, makes us more tired and fatigued than we really are. Be sure to sleep and rest when you have the time. Being tired and angry isn’t productive to the writing process either.
I get serious Hanger.
You know, that odd phenomenon when Hungry people just seem angry? Well, as a toddler I was a mess, but put peppercorn on anything and I’ll eat it! Now it’s mostly sugar, but Peppercorn is deeply held in my heart as a comforting taste.
(Wait, does that smell like a writing prompt?!)
There are as many ways to journal, diary, write or script as there are human beings with brains and fingerprints.
We don’t all fit into the same categories and we don’t all have the same preferences- embrace what you need to do for your own health.
Create and then play within your own routine.
Truth is, my routine is constantly changing.