As a journaling practice advocate for many years, one of my long-time dreams came true last year. That's when Paper Boat Publishing came to life and published Today: Life guided journal.
It was exciting to see an idea turn into reality. It was even more exciting when I started seeing it in bookshops - online and in person. And, I was beyond thrilled when people started buying them and using them.
I love it when people see the benefits of journaling. It's great when people use journals to record memories, explore creativity, and brainstorm ideas.
I know I'm not alone in encouraging people to develop and maintain a journaling practice. There are many articles written on the benefits of journaling out there. One I came across recently is this Inc.com article, by Benjamin Hardy. Here, he lists 5 ways the practice of journal writing can improve your life -
There's also this article at Huffington Post that shares 10 benefits of journaling. And, PsychCentral supports journal writing's health benefits - including strengthening immune systems and stress relief.
So, yes, journaling has become more than just a "Dear Diary" practice. Many people journal to remember day-to-day lives or special travel memories. And, there are also those who uses journals as part of therapy, coaching, counselling, training, and education.
If you haven't started journaling yet, the tips below can help to get you going. If you've been keeping a journal for a while, the tips might help give you new ideas to revive or improve your journal writing practice.
You don't have to write daily if your schedule doesn't allow it. But, if you're able to commit to a simple schedule, then you would see the benefits of journaling a lot more.
In Julia Cameron's classic book on creativity, The Artist's Way, she supports the notion of developing a journaling practice called "Morning Pages". The idea is to write three pages a day, first thing in the morning, to dump everything's that's on your mind. No edits, no re-reads, no stopping - until you get to the third and final page.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people who can attest that the "Morning Pages" is an incredible journaling practice. But, you do need at least half an hour to an hour to do this. If you're able to make that time - then it's definitely one worth doing.
If such a schedule is too tight for you - try to come up with something that's more doable. Try doing just one page, for example. Or, commit to writing in your journal at least five minutes a day. You can do this either first thing in the morning or the last thing at night.
Writing daily lists under certain categories in your journal might be an option. There are also people who choose to write one sentence a day.
It doesn't matter what approach you take, as long as you commit to it and practice it. Show up on the page, no matter what.
One of the most common concerns of people trying to journal is: "But I run out of things to write about!" Or, "Nothing interesting ever happens to me that's worth journaling about!"
This is when schedules help. Knowing you need to show up on the page no matter what can help to keep you going.
Being prepared is another approach that can prove helpful. Preparation may include having a list of journaling prompts and ideas. Or, having a collection of themes and helpful hints.
This is where guided journals like Today: Life can be useful. There are also many other guided journals that offer guidance and inspiration. Check your local library or the bookstores for some ideas.
Another way to stay inspired when journaling is by joining journaling communities and challenges. If you're interested, check out ShaiCoggins.com's new Journaling For Success Mini Challenge. It's a five-day journaling challenge that offers daily themes, prompts, and tips. The main theme covered in the daily themes is all about 'success'. The challenge is free to join and you can complete it at any time.
Part of the fun of journaling is using journal writing tools. These may be in the form of beautiful pens and notebooks or fancy apps and cool books.
My personal preference is a mix of analogue and digital tools. I use cheap $2 notebooks and beautiful Moleskin journals. I also use OneNote on my Surface Pro 3, my iPad, and my Windows phone. I also have a couple of journaling apps on my iPad, but I don't use them as much anymore.
And, yes, I have a growing collection of guided journals apart from Today: Life.
There was also a time when I actively used a web app called 750 Words.
Regardless of your preference, the important thing to remember is to choose the tools that would help you journal in the best possible way. And yes, there's no one way to do that!
To make the most out of your journaling practice, try to make time for reflections. Being able to reflect on the things that you've written about in your journal can be enlightening.
If you write daily, take the time to look at what you've written at the weekend. If you only write a few times a week, try to review once a month or once a quarter.
Notice patterns and themes in your journal writing. Do you find that you write more positive things or negative things? Do you focus on gratitude, opportunities, and happy memories? Or, are you more likely to write about difficult situations, problems, and challenging people? What does it make you feel reading back on some of your journal entries?
Reflecting on your journaling practice helps you to see any recurring ideas and observations. It can also help you to notice any progress or changes that occur over time.
On The S Squad Content Library, you'll find the Daily Notes PDF download. In the worksheet, you'll see five days' worth of short journaling on a page. There's also a box where you can summarise (or reflect on) the five days of journal writing.
This interactive PDF was designed with the Journaling For Success Mini Challenge in mind. But, you can use it in any other journaling practice. If you're logged in, you can download the PDF for free.
So, how about you? Do you keep a journal? Do you have a schedule? What are your favourite tools? What do you like about journaling?
If you don't keep a journal, would you consider starting one now? If not, what's your biggest obstacle in getting started with a journaling practice?
Shai has been managing and blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com for 17 years. Here, she writes about creativity, productivity, and how to recharge for a better, happier lifestyle. She is the author of Today: Life Journal, Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes, and a little known children's book. A serial entrepreneur, Shai also currently runs Vervely.com, a boutique digital media agency offering online content, community, and conversion marketing services. Her blogging experience and digital work have been featured in various media, including being listed in Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list. Originally from Manila, Shai lived in Singapore and the USA before moving to Australia with her British husband. They have two children, a pet bunny, and a rambunctious rescue Labrador.