I have always liked the idea of journaling. I have stacks of notebooks that I was really dedicated to using for writing my thoughts out and organizing my life for about a week, but then I set them down to collect dust. And every time I start a new journal I think to myself, “This won’t be like last time, I’ll actually use this one.” It wasn’t until this summer that I finally broke the mold. So here are my tips for starting journaling and actually keeping it up.
- Stay off Pinterest
It can be so easy to get sucked into seeing pictures of all the beautifully decorated pages and the themes involved with bullet journaling. But the reality is: no one’s first journal looks like that. I find that if you want to keep a journal just for aesthetic reasons, you won’t have the motivation to actually use it. Instead, brainstorm what you want to get out of this journal. This brainstorm can even be your first page. This way, your journal will be more tailored towards you and can allow you to be more creative!
- Find a notebook that you really like and decorate it
For the longest time I would start journaling in notebooks I had gotten in Gift Swaps or had found lying around in my house. Instead, buy a notebook that fits your style. That said, it doesn’t have to be a fancy leather journal that will cost a lot of money. If you are using just some journal you had, decorate it! I love to put stickers on my notebooks (my current one has a watercolor turtle sticker that says “Caitlin’s Journal” on it). This is a great way to personalize it and can be a fun art project. If you don’t have stickers and don’t feel like buying any, tear up some scrap paper and doodle on it!
- Have a dedicated writing time
This one was super important for me to make journaling part of my daily routine. If I didn’t have a dedicated writing time, I would keep pushing it off, saying I would write later only to fall asleep without writing. Deciding this is super personal. If you have some free time in the morning and want to gather your thoughts then, I think that’s a really great way to start the day off on the right foot. I personally like to write before I go to bed. I feel like that is when I have a day’s worth of feelings in me, and getting them out on paper feels like lifting a weight off my shoulders before climbing in bed. This is also a really good time to set goals for yourself for the next day.
- Bring it with you wherever you go
Especially in the beginning, I felt like this was a really helpful way to get into journaling. Sometimes thoughts come to you at random times throughout the day and having your journal with you to quickly jot something down is important. Even if you don’t end up writing in it, I find that sticking your notebook in your backpack or car will make you more conscious of your thoughts and more likely to write them down.
- Keep a pen with it
This might be the most important step to sticking with journaling. I’m so lazy that if I have to get up to get a pen, I’m most likely going to just skip writing. If your pen is always with your journal, you’ll never find yourself scrounging for something to write with and forgetting your thoughts in the meantime.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself
If you make journaling a chore, you won’t want to do it. So instead of being hard on yourself for forgetting to write, remember that this is something you are doing for yourself. It doesn’t have to be pretty or consistent because it’s just for you. I always used to miss a day (or 10 days) and then feel like it had been too long and needed to start over. There aren’t rules for keeping a journal so just do what feels right to you, and if that doesn’t follow what everyone else’s journals are like, that’s perfectly okay.