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An image from Canva of a journal with text added over it.
An image from Canva of a journal with text added over it.
Kylee Kropf

Daily Journaling: It’s Way Easier Than You Think

Leather, Moleskine, spiral, mixed media: name a genre of journal, and I can just about guarantee I’ve got it tucked in some crevice of my room or stuffed in my tote bag “just in case.” 

As a college student, it seems especially easy to rationalize spending more time shopping for journals than sketching in them; “I’m so busy!” I’d tell myself, knowing that wasn’t the reason I hadn’t committed. The truth was, I’d seen one too many Instagram reels, pins and TikToks featuring perfectly sprawled pages adorned with multicolored gel ink, printed tape and perfectly-pressed flowers. I was intimidated. 

In a non-apparently fortunate moment of screen burnout and desperation, I saw the journal on my bedside table and started writing. No pressure, no expectations. As it turns out, that is what it takes to truly start journaling (for yourself, not the camera). Starting, unsurprisingly, is the most difficult part. After you do that, finding the time and motivation to keep at it is natural. 

I’d had a very constrained notion of what journaling was supposed to be, and I was more concerned with adhering to that idea than taking it for what it was: a limitless opportunity to express myself, for myself. 

Journaling became an organic break from my computer or my phone. Disconnected from external stimulation, school stresses, emails, and so forth, I learned how to spend time with myself in a way that was not stress-inducing. I could reflect on my day without the distraction of notifications or the temptation to switch tabs. Journaling simultaneously allowed me to reflect and reduce my anxiety. 

I’m confident it’d have the same effect on you, too. 

That said, as I previously mentioned, getting started can be challenging. So, I’ve devised a list of ideas to get you started. Note, these range from your expected “journal prompts” to shockingly non-intimidating activities to break in some empty pages. Absolutely no pressure!

  1. Make a list (whether it’s a daily or weekly to-do list, a list of goals, a list of things you’re grateful for, a list of your favorite books, or simply a grocery list).
  2. Write down a quote that inspires you.
  3. Jot down a sentence (literally anything, let your impulse guide you).
  4. Make a playlist.
  5. Review a book or movie (include pics and quotes if you want to be fancy!).
  6. Tape or glue in some mementos (movie tickets, concert tickets, photos, stickers, receipts).
  7. Write a letter to someone you love (or to your past or future self).
  8. Write a poem.
  9. Make some affirmations.
  10. Sketch a mind map.
  11. Doodle.
  12. Write down last night’s dream.
  13. Write down everything bothering you.
  14. Write down everything you’re currently excited about.
  15. Brainstorm some seemingly impossible questions (if you’re feeling brave, try to answer them).
  16. Make a collage or mood board.
  17. Write down a recipe you love or want to try.

Hopefully, that list convinced you there really are no journaling rules. Just spending some time with yourself and putting something onto paper can be super beneficial, especially when our lives are becoming increasingly digital. I guarantee once you get started journaling, it will be more difficult to stop than to continue!

Kylee is a second-year at UCLA double-majoring in English and Political Science. She is a feature writer for Her Campus at UCLA who acts and publishes poetry in her free time. She drinks way too much coffee, romanticizes everything and has a book-buying addiction.
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