Writing in a journal every day takes discipline. There is no better way to learn the nuts and bolts of good writing, however. Daily journal writing not only helps you unwind and figure out your feelings, it also gives you that practice time needed to become a skilled writer. So how do you start this habit of daily journaling?
First, consider whether you are a morning person or a night owl. The morning person wakes with a clear, lively mind that is just bursting to get on paper. Taking a half hour or so in the morning to clarify thoughts and express yourself can be very rewarding. For the night owl, though, things unfold more slowly. If this is you, you’ll probably want to schedule your daily journaling time right before you go to bed, as a way to unwind.
The time of day that you are at your creative best is important if you want your ideas to flow freely. If morning hours are at a premium, with getting ready for work and exercising, maybe you can journal on breaks or at lunch. Keep trying, and you will be able to find a time of day that works for you. It will soon become a treasured break from the routine of your real life.
How do you arrive at topics to write about in your journal? First, what is happening in your life that brings out an emotional response in you? Did you deal with road rage today? An unreasonable coworker? Are you in love? Explore the areas in your day, either looking back or looking forward, which stir up your feelings.
While pouring out your frustrations can be a release valve for daily stress, it is important to make a positive statement from it all. When you look at the proverbial bright side of an experience, you are on the way to a happier life. If you can only see the dark, depressing side, take a few moments to consider what you have in your life that makes you feel thankful. In fact, an entire journal devoted to gratitude is not a bad idea at all for your emotional health.
If you are devoid of ideas, write down what you did in the past 24 hours, diary-style. Look for chances to express yourself creatively. Do you have a baby or small child? Take a minute to describe her little cherub cheeks and silky curls. Did you have a flat tire? Write about the smell of the rubber or the discomfort you felt as you waited to get it fixed. Everyday life is rich with opportunities for creative expression.
Another way to write daily is to carry a small notebook or bound journal with you in your pocket, purse, or briefcase. Get it out any time you wish to capture one of those fleeting creative thoughts that drift across your mind. Remember that every thought may not be worth examining and turning into a poem or paragraph. Some probably will be, though. If you fail to take the time to write them down when they come your way, even the best ideas may disappear from your grasp.
Finally, don’t let your inner critic silence your efforts. Send that dude packing! Don’t worry about misspelled words or unfinished sentences. If you have an idea that you later want to flesh out for some important writing, you have plenty of time for rewriting and fixing mistakes in the future. It also isn’t important if some days you feel less creative than on other days. You can still make the most of your journaling by writing some every day.
About the Author: Shery Arrieta Russ
Shery Arrieta Russ is the author of the books, The Journaling Life: 21 Types of Journals You Can Create to Express Yourself and Record Pieces of Your Life and The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between. She is also a ghostwriter who has written thousands of articles for clients since 2003.