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Journaling 101: Everything You Need to Know

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

I’m sure at some point you’ve heard of the good journaling can do for you and all the benefits it can reap. I can assure you keeping a journal never hurts. It makes you self-aware and allows you to understand what you’re feeling. It allows you to experiment make the most of your thoughts. And most importantly, journaling allows you to find your own voice.   

1.  Remember that it’s your space and your playground 

Arguably, the hardest part is starting. What holds many of us back from writing is ourselves. There’s just always pressure to begin, whether it’s thinking you’ll ruin your expensive paper or thinking that whatever you’re going to write just won’t be good enough. If you’re pressured to begin a new journal, I suggest you buy a cheap notebook and destroy the heck out of it. Yes, destroy and experiment with your style. Whether you prefer neatness like Monica or you’re bold and daring like Phoebe, use a cheap notebook to experiment what feels best for you. But you must dive right into it, because once you start the process, it becomes less intimidating. Customize it to your own liking because it is your safe space. Try adding stickers or washi tape or using colored pencils. You may also choose to exclusively write in it. 

2.  Your Journal is Your Phone

What I mean by that is your journal should be used in the same way you use your phone. Need to phone a friend? Your journal. Bored? Write. Don’t know what to write? Doodle. It’s all of your best friends in one. Take it with you everywhere so a thought never goes unnoticed and unwritten. If you’re like me and are forgetful AF, then this is really where it comes most in handy. This is also a useful tactic for creatives because writing your ideas down allows you to brainstorm and go back to your old thoughts, revise and evolve ideas into something meaningful. If you can become an expert at this, then you can create something beautifully and uniquely yours. 

3.  Where to start? 

  • Write yourself an introduction with your intentions for your journal and frequently reread it 
  • Write about people by giving them nicknames
  • Write about things you want to improve in yourself 
  • Write about what you’re grateful for  
  • Write about your favorite movies and why you liked them 
  • Write down what I like to call “Your Little Daily Miracles” 
  • Write about your first thoughts right when you wake up and right before you go to bed
  • Write down memos, quick notes and/or reminders 

4.  Log in and Log out 

My biggest survival tip: log in and then log out. What I mean by that is: don’t allow yourself to be consumed by thoughts—it can be dangerous. Allow yourself to vent. Know that venting can be good to an extent and that if your body and mind urge certain feelings, ask for help. Log out appropriately. 

And by logging in, I also mean that literally: date your entries and time stamp them. This can be useful for when rereading and seeing how much you’ve changed since the days you’ve written them. 

Take it with you everywhere so a thought never goes unnoticed and unwritten.

5.  Allowing yourself to be okay with rereading it

This is the hardest and most painful process to allow yourself to do. It takes courage to read through your most vulnerable thoughts and dive into them. The key is to analyze them, not absorb them. Notice your highs and lows, what makes you feel better? Sometimes you just need a fresh new day to get perspective. Giving yourself the space to read your thoughts allows you to develop a sense of self-awareness. 

Images: 1, 2, 3, 4

Eileen is a sophomore studying Social Sciences at the University of Central Florida. She's a lover of art and all it's strangest forms. Living in her multi-colored world, she finds solace in her writing, photography, and drawing. She is constantly redecorating her room to make it even more colorful and watching Ted Talks throughout the day. If you wish to see the world through her eyes follow her instagram @eileenzelaya !
UCF Contributor