Dear Diary: 7 Ideas for Journaling

   For many, the image of journaling brings to mind the childhood practice of writing  secrets in  one of those diaries with the tiny lock and key, then hiding it under the mattress in hopes those  secrets would be completely safe. Journaling isn’t only for pre-teens or professional writers, but for all ages. Writing our innermost thoughts and feelings can be an effective tool for communication, understanding, organization, relaxation, and clarity. Journaling can be a deep exploratory kind of thing, or a casual recording of day-to-day life; it depends on your unique personality and needs. Let’s explore a few journaling ideas.

Do you sometimes read or hear things that inspire you, or have those “a-ha” moments?  Keep a journal specifically  for ideas and  inspiration. A journal like this will take years, maybe a lifetime, to fill. One great thing about having a journal for ideas and inspiration is that  you’re able to draw from what you’ve written when you’re feeling uninspired.

Do you like the idea of journaling, but aren’t big on writing paragraphs?  Try journaling one sentence per day. There’s even a little journal sold on Amazon created for this very purpose. In this same vein are gratitude journals where each day you record one thing for which you felt grateful.

   Are you feeling as though journaling is  boring? It doesn’t have to be! Get creative! You can fill your journal with pictures, decorative stickers, and other souvenirs. Write in colors that reflect your mood. If you’re going to do this type of journal, I recommend a larger book so everything will fit nicely.


   Are you still unsure where to begin, or what you want to write about?  I have a few recommendations for this. The first is”  52 Lists     for Happiness”. This book is a weekly journal broken down into 52 lists that help you know yourself  a little better (it can also be fun to do these with a friend).  In addition to my other journals I have this book,  and find it enjoyable skipping around and adding to the lists at random.  When I’m feeling stuck, I open it and choose something from one of my lists that  I’d like to explore on a deeper level, and write it out in one of my other journals.

Then there’s the journal jar, which is such a fresh idea. I found out about it thanks to the  creative folks on Pinterest . Basically, you fill a canning jar with journal prompts (there are printable ones all over Pinterest!).  Each day you take one prompt from the jar and allow it to guide your writing.

Those are some fun ideas, but what about those times  your thoughts all jumbled up in your head, when your emotions feel “stuck”?  Try free-writing! Free-writing is an exercise where you write whatever comes to mind without criticizing your thoughts or feelings, also without regard for punctuation,or spelling. It may sound aimless, but free-writing can be used to bring clarity to what’s really going on in our hearts so that said feelings can be dealt with. Think of free-writing as the rough draft of your next journal entry.

Journaling can be helpful  when you’re having an issue or disagreement with someone. We’ve all been  upset with someone in such a way that we can’t bring ourselves to talk about it; there’s a journaling exercise for that! Write this person a letter. Whether or not you’ll actually  send it is beside the point. Writing a letter  can be incredibly cathartic.  Releasing difficult feelings on paper before verbalizing them means you can change or reconsider what you’d like to say before sending or saving it. A well thought out letter can also open the lines of communication in a more peaceful manner than verbal confrontation, increasing the chances of a peaceful resolution and/or closure.

I hope you found these journaling ideas helpful. Bear in mind, journaling may be done at any frequency. I write when I feel the need, and don’t pressure myself to journal daily.  Not all entries need to be deep or long.  Some days, you may choose to  simply write an idea, feeling, or thought that arises  and elaborate on it after. Journaling is the perfect way to connect with ourselves, and record thoughts and memories for future reflection.

Do you keep a journal?


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