We’ve all been there. We go to the independent stationary store, or even Wal-Mart, and stumble upon a perfectly bound, so-pretty-you-could-eat-it, journal. “This is it. Today is when I finally start the journal I’ve always wanted.” Maybe you even grab the perfect pen to compliment your shrink-wrapped Moleskine. “Here we go. Watch out Toni Morrison, watch out Ernest Hemingway, today is the day I start to write.”
On your journey home you can’t stop thinking about all the things you’re going to write in your new journal. You have so many ideas that you want to crack the sucker open just to make a list of what you’ll eventually write about.
And for a couple weeks you actually do write in that journal and it feels great. Your creativity is flowing, the words empty out of your mind before you can even get them down. You’re enjoying going back and reading the things you’ve previously written.
But then real life creeps in. You know, meetings, new projects, family stuff, Netflix binges.
At this point you know you can journal, you’re just not doing it as much (or at all). Before you know it, your journal is collecting dust in a corner wondering what happened to your relationship. “We used to be so close!” it screams. Each new speck of dust is a bitter visualization and reminder of how you’ve failed to keep a journal again.
So how is a budding journal writer to avoid this common journaling pitfall?
We must acknowledge the fact that a journal has one purpose: to be written in. If we don’t write in our journals, they're just blank pages bound together, or empty voids of 1s and 0s in an online journal. Your journal is hungry, feed it!
Here are some techniques that might be helpful when it comes to journaling everyday (or at least consistently).
Find your ideal writing time.
Even the busiest person can find five or so minutes each day to get their thoughts out and into a journal. And actually, many of the world's busiest and most successful people do keep daily journals.
Maybe your best writing time is in the morning before or during your first cup of coffee when your brain is still fresh and before the stresses of the day surround you (note: journaling is great for stress reduction). Perhaps you want to live your day then reflect upon it in your journal before bed.
If you’re using a physical journal, consider setting a “writing reminder” each day that alerts you when it’s time to write. If you want to integrate the two, you can consider using an online writing platform that’s secure and takes the writing reminder and platform directly to you via email.
The path of least resistance will most likely be what gets you writing in your journal each day, so however you can make that work for you is how you should set up your daily journaling.
Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day or two.
Life can be challenging enough. Give yourself a break. Don’t make writing just another thing that stresses you out. It should be the exact opposite, but if it’s not feeling that way, try to think about why.
This is your journal. It can be whatever the hell you want it to be.
Maybe you just want to write a sentence today and an essay tomorrow. It doesn’t matter. And hey, if you don't write anything for a day or two that's cool too. This is your journal. It can be whatever the hell you want it to be.
Of course, it can feel difficult to write down your more intimate or private thoughts when writing in a physical journal since they can potentially be lost and even the most complex journal locks can be broken. If you don’t want to reach for pen and paper, consider using a secure online journal that’s designed for writing and not for sharing.
Don’t focus too much on length.
Like they say about going to the gym, even if all you do is make it inside, you’ve won. Likewise with journal writing, if you put too much pressure on yourself to write, you might stop altogether. Simply getting a few sentences out is good enough. That counts and no one can tell you it doesn’t.
Writing doesn’t have to be an absolute joy every time you give yourself the opportunity to sit down to do it. Some days you simply won’t feel like writing anything. Maybe you just want to write out a bulleted list of everything that happened that day. Maybe you want to jot down a grocery list followed by 2,000 words on why “Bio-Dome” was a severely underrated film. It doesn’t really matter. Again, this is your journal.
Consider including some visuals.
While not for everyone, the inclusion of photos around the subject(s) of your daily writing can be a boon of not only inspiration but of enhancing the memories when you eventually go back to read your past entries.
This can be difficult in a physical journal, but not impossible. If you don’t have a Polaroid camera handy you can always draw some doodles in the margins and if you’re feeling particularly crafty you can even go back and glue in some photos later.
If you're not in the mood to write anything about your day, consider updating your online journal with a few photos just to help you remember what you did and saw that day. This can help you think of your phone’s camera as more of a resource than just something you use to take photos that you may never look at again.
When you do a photos-only journal post, it gives those photos context as even if you don’t write anything that particular day, you can see what you were writing about on the days that surround it.
Remember why you’re keeping a journal in the first place.
"I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train." - Oscar Wilde
Ask yourself, “Why do I want to keep a private journal and write in it everyday?”
Even if you aren’t traversing the globe mountain climbing and train hopping, going back and reading about your past day-to-day life can be a magical experience.
Everyone can, and should, keep a journal. You just have to find the best type of journal writing experience for you. Whether it’s online like we offer, or a physical journal that you can carry around with you, get those thoughts out of your head.