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My Favorite Ways to Approach Journaling: An Activity for Everyone That No One Knows How to Start

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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Gettysburg chapter.

Over the years, I have experimented with lots of different journaling techniques that I heard about from family members, saw on Pinterest, and formulated myself. The idea of being a consistent journaler has always been appealing to me, but it is not always as easy as it seems. “Write your thoughts down!” is what they all say. “Whatever comes to mind, capture it!” It seems so simple, yet it can be difficult to have enough motivation to write down everything you’re thinking. These are some ideas I have seen and tried while journaling that have made it more approachable and fun for me, which is super important!

1. an “experiences” journal

I find diary-style journaling to be a bit daunting, especially if a particular day has a lot of stories and emotions to write down. I decided that for me, it would be more relaxing to instead only write about specific experiences that happen to me and how they make me feel. I like to write about mundane events as well as milestones—anything that evokes some sort of feeling that is worth writing down. So far in 2024, I have written two entries and have not felt stressed while writing, which has been so refreshing. The entries have been about cleaning my room and learning guitar, and I like to title them as if they are chapters in a book, and I doodle in the margins. Another addition is that I write down a journaling playlist at the end that I listened to as I wrote that entry because I love to see how my music tastes change and act as soundtracks for what I am writing. I would be so interested to see what others would do to make their own journals creative since everyone has different artistic visions, but this is what works for me.

2. A Five-Year Journal

Two years ago, I got a five-year journal that has a page and a question for each day of the year with five lines to write down a new answer each time you make it through the book. The questions are random and easy to jot down an answer to each day. They range from prompts about food to relationships to nostalgia and pretty much anything you could think of. I didn’t dedicate much time to it last year, so I am a little discouraged by the blanks I have for 2023. But in 2024, while starting to write in it again, it has been so interesting to see how my answers have changed and stayed the same, which motivates me to continue with it. I think it is a really neat concept, and only takes a minute to fill it out. In fact, I feel like spontaneous answers are better to really catch a glimpse into how you are in that moment, so I try not to dwell too long and write a “perfect” answer. I like being honest, even if it doesn’t age too well while looking back; that is part of the fun!

3. lists

I really like making lists for so many circumstances, and I feel like they can count as journaling if they get really detailed. When I am obsessing over a certain artist or creating a bucket list for what I want to experience, it can turn into more than just a checklist. My Notes app has so many random compilations of things that I have kept track of, including favorite songs and why, books I really want to read, monumental events in specific years, and more. Sure, they aren’t super detailed, but they are still keeping track of things that I love and how those things have changed over time and also become more important to me. I also love art, so sometimes these lists turn into an art project (even though I never became totally interested in the pressure of maintaining a bullet journal, the ultimate goal of a lot of people who journal).

4. A memory per day

In 2024, I have been writing down a memory from each day on a little piece of paper, folding it into a heart shape, and keeping it in a jar. I have seen a lot of people online do this and open all their memories at the end of the year, which I think is a super awesome idea! This is yet another way to keep track of things that are really important, and unlike the others, is more specific to 2024. I am excited to have a whole collection of anecdotes that I wrote down to reminisce on once the year is over, and it is a nice way to see how much importance, good and bad, happens in 365 days. It only takes two minutes, and I like to end my days with this little journaling activity as well as my five-year journal.

I hope that these journaling ideas reach someone who wants to give it a try! Overall, I find it so helpful and entertaining as long as I am not burnt out from trying to maintain the habit, so I encourage others to pick it up, too. Getting started is the hardest part, but then it is very rewarding!

Ainsley Green

Gettysburg '27

Ainsley is a new member of the Gettysburg College Her Campus chapter, and is a staff writer. She hopes to write about lifestyle, college tips, music recommendations, and life at Gettysburg. Ainsley is a first-year at Gettysburg College and is currently an undeclared major. She has interest in an English with Writing Concentration or Psychology major, and also plans on pursuing a music minor in piano performance. She is a Lincoln Scholar, and has enjoyed getting involved in other clubs on campus, including publishing articles for "The Gettysburgian." In her free time, Ainsley loves to read, write, play piano, spend time with her family and friends, and be outside. She loves everything about music, a good conversation about a book or movie, and her two cats, Freya and Fen.