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A Beginner’s Guide to Journaling

If you’re anything like me, you might yawn at the sight of this article. In a society where we’ve replaced pen and paper with fingers and phones, what is the importance of journaling? I once thought the same thing, but thankfully, I have seen the light and discovered a love of journaling. Hopefully I can help you do the same thing.

You might think of journaling as something teenage girls do to write about their crush or something your grandma does every morning over coffee. You may be thinking; I can’t even get myself to write my English paper, how can I write for fun? Luckily, journaling is far less formal, and a lot more fun! The psychological benefits of journaling are profound. By writing things down, we’re able to clear our head, forced to own up to our emotions, and allowed to embark on a journey of self-discovery. The creative freedom is an important experience for students who are used to getting a rubric and timeline for their writing. Read on for a few tips to help you enjoy journaling.

1. Gather Supplies

There’s something about a cute, new journal that draws out a person’s inner Shakespeare. Using a notebook will provide a place for all your thoughts to reside and will allow you to look back on them later to reflect or laugh at your old worries. In addition to this, grab some colorful pens to bring your thoughts to life. You may even want to go crazy and use bookmarks to track important journal pages that you want to look back on later. Having a collection of journaling supplies sets you up for successful writing.


2. Keep It Simple

Maybe your first journal entry doesn’t have to be an outpour of your deepest thoughts. It puts a lot of pressure on us as writers to look at a page and think of it as an inviting place to hold all our emotions. Start simply by writing about your day, your current playlist, or something that made you smile. This helps you discover your journaling style, which you will develop as you write more entries.


3. Journal Spontaneously

Maybe it’s just me, but I think it’s so much easier to write when the inspiration strikes, rather than writing on a schedule. By writing when you want you will have higher quality journal entries that matter to you, rather than pages representing a checkmark in the “journal today” box.


4. Reflect on Past Pages

I’m grateful that I had my journal with me as I entered college. I wrote about the things I did with my friends that solidified our bond, my feelings throughout welcome week, and how I thought I had my life figured out (that one is fun to look back at and read). Now, I get to reread and remember those good times and reflect on how much I’ve changed. This is especially useful for people that can’t remember what they had for breakfast (hello, that’s me!) and it takes some of the pressure off you to remember everything because you have a place to store these memories.


If you take away one thing from this, I hope it’s what journaling is all about, liberation and self-expression. Happy journaling!

Junior student at SLU just trying to give her mom something to put on the fridge.
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