How to Keep a Journal

So many beautiful notebooks are lost to the back of closets and the bottoms of dresser drawers with little more than a handful of sorry-for-not-writing notes in them, but it’s time to make that a thing of the past! Here are 5 tips for maintaining a journal (and actually enjoying it, too).


1. Express yourself in whichever ways make sense to you!

A common misconception is that every time you write in your journal, it has to be the same thing: a written entry detailing what you ate that day, who you talked to, which shoes you wore… That’s not the case at all! If you feel that you can better express yourself and your thoughts through something other than words (or through a medium other than paper), that is exactly how you should go about expressing yourself. A few examples:

  • Poetry

  • Fiction (the next Harry Potter, anyone?)

  • Song lyrics (either your own or someone else’s)

  • Drawings/ diagrams

  • Mixed-media collage

  • Photography

  • Video

This is not an exhaustive list, but I think it helps you get the picture! Combining methods can also be very effective (and more fun).


2. If you’re taking the physical book route, get a journal with paper that makes sense for how you’re planning on using it.

If you’re starting fresh (that is, not pulling a half-full journal out from under a pile of clothes and picking up where you left off), spend a few minutes in Indigo looking at what they have to offer. Lined paper is awesome if you think you’re mostly going to be working with words; graph paper is really nice if you are doing a lot of collaging and want things to be lined up nicely; blank paper offers the most flexibility, if you have no initial ideas to start.

3. Write (or draw, or create) every day, even if it’s just a sentence.

This sounds like a huge commitment, but there are tons of lists and challenges to give you inspiration and keep you motivated! There are even challenges that last one full year, although most operate on a monthly basis. That being said…


4. Magazine cut-outs make for awesome additions and inspiration.

If you collect magazine cut-outs and other prompts (such as questions, suggestions of what to write/draw, words you find and like…), you can always go to them if you feel like you don’t know what to write! Making a little inspiration box can help get you out of a creative rut.


5. Remember: this is for you!

Your drawings don’t have to be pretty and your written entries don’t have to be groundbreaking! Ultimately, keeping a journal is just for you. It’ll help you work through difficult emotions, preserve memories, and experiment with creativity without judgment. Your journal is a safe space to, in the words of Miss Frizzle, “take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!”