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Mental Health

Five Reasons Why You Should Be Writing In A Journal

Writing in a notebook has been an integral part of my upbringing since before I could even spell. Each blank page becomes a new friend to share my stories, ideas, drawings, or life events with. I have written cover to cover in dozens of notebooks for the past 19 years, starting at just four years old, and I don’t know who I would be if I never filled those notebooks. One may think, “Alison, a notebook is NOT a journal!” Here is what I have to say about that: a journal can be whatever you want it to be. Want to use a 99 cent notebook as a journal? Go for it. Do you like to doodle with your flow of ideas? Get a sketchbook. A journal doesn’t have to be a little hardcover 5” by 8” book that is numbered and lined on each page that you got from Barnes and Noble, but if that is what you want then go for it! Your journal can even be just a running Google Doc you revisit every once in a while to dump out the thoughts in your brain. My personal favorites are dotted notebooks.

So without further ado, here are my five reasons why I believe every person should be writing in a journal. 



Any old notebook can be turned into a planner if you are willing to put in the effort for it. Notebooks are generally cheaper than premade planners in my experience, even when you factor in the cost of pens, pencils, and highlighters. For me, I use my journal as a planner only during school semesters, which saves me an extra 5-6 months of premade planner I wouldn’t use. Breaking it down further, every once in a while you get lucky and have a semester that only has classes four (or less!) days out of the week, so hypothetically if you only needed to have those days drawn in your planner you have the freedom to do so. How I set up the planner section of my journal is to have a monthly spread, similar to the appearance of a monthly calendar, and then a weekly spread, where two pages aligned left and right with each other show my week and what I need to do each day.



While this is easier said than done, every page in a journal is a blank canvas for you to get ideas flowing. Blank pages are intimidating, but what helped me overcome the writer’s block of every blank page is to recognize my audience, me, and know she would want every thought written— even the bad ones. Some examples of how I use my journal for brainstorming: ideas for poetry that I may or may not piece together on a later date, drawing out mental models to relate ideas for school, mapping out future semesters to be able to graduate in a timely manner, or songs I heard that I want to remember.



Listing may be a subcategory of brainstorming for some, but it is my all time favorite form of writing so I give it its own category. Writing lists is therapeutic in that it reduces anxiety for the writer because it organizes thoughts and is straightforward to look back to. A few examples of lists I have written include skincare routines, pen color inventory, every Pokemon that currently exists, or German words I am struggling to learn. I have written easily over a thousand lists for the sake of writing a list. It is a calming activity for me.



Creativity is a broad term but it is an appropriate reason for one to pick up journaling. Drawing, story-writing, and music composition all belong in your notebook! This isn’t even limited to its own concept; your doodles, poems or stickers belong on every page of your journal if that is something you like. For me personally, I have stickers on literally every single page of my journal and I doodle some of my favorite characters to give me words of encouragement. I have entire pages dedicated to drawing: my full natal chart on one (I’m a libra!) and every planet in our solar system on another. I just do it because it is fun.


Mental Health

A journal can be anything you want it to be and that does not exclude a diary. Something I do is track my mood every day to not lose track of bad days, as having an awesome day can make you forget that last week you stress-cried five out seven days. When things aren’t feeling good, something I like to do is to keep a daily log of three things I am grateful for and something that made me happy that day. What I really like about doing this is that it keeps my brain thinking in a positive light even when life is trying to make it do otherwise.


Hopefully my reasons for you to start journaling encourage you to start journaling! Don’t get discouraged at the sight of an empty notebook, as it has so much potential to grow with you.


Alison Duda is studying environmental engineering at Michigan State University. In her free time she enjoys riding her bike, bullet journaling, and cooking.
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