No more staring at a blank page. These tips and questions will get you off to a great start.
After writing about how journaling has helped me heal, I have received many inquiries from people who like the “idea” of journaling every night but they don’t really know where to start.
The great news is that there are no rules to journaling!! It isn’t possible for you to do it wrong. It doesn’t need to be perfect. Having said that, I understand the desire to “do something well if you are going to do it at all” and also, how disconcerting it is to stare at a blank page and not know what to write, so I have prepared some strategies to ease your way into this new and exciting ritual.
Make it a habit. Set a particular time of day to write. I like doing it before I go to bed every night so that I end the day recalling all the great things that happened. On the other hand, if I am journaling about a problem I am trying to resolve or writing to release negative feelings, I will do that in a different journal in the middle of the day so I have time to recover and move on.
Buy a pretty book. Now, I’ve received journals as gifts before and usually they are beautiful because they come from people who know me well, but I usually have to wait a while before I start to write in them – until I feel they are mine. This can take up to a year. I recommend, if you about to start this new practice, that you venture out to your favourite book store and browse through the hundreds of options until you find one that touches you. You’ll know what I mean. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. It could be an “old-fashioned” Hilroy exercise book because it reminds you of your first homemade diary you had when you were 13. The important thing is that you make a connection with it. It will become your best friend, after all.
Get a good pen. Everyone has a favorite type. I like black fine point Bic pens. Again, I was given a beautiful pen as a gift one time and I tried to write with it but it just didn’t feel right in my hand; it was too heavy, and it leaked. Be good to your journal. Never be without a good pen. (PS – If you like to write with a pink feather pen, it’s ok! Now’s the time.)
Choose a purpose. Think about what journaling is going to mean for you. In my last article on journaling, I listed all the roles my journal has played over the years. Would you like to use yours to capture your dreams, your confessions, your fears, or your progress? I actually have different journals for different things but that may be a bit “overkill” for a novice. It’s truly up to you but you may want to start with one focus only or you could change focus each month and see what feels best. This is a work in progress (as we all are!) and like I said, there are no rules.
Ask yourself one question at a time. Each time I sit with pen in hand and journal in lap, I ask myself a question. I’ve listed some that have come up over the years. You may choose to ask the same question every night for a week and see what surfaces. I’d love to hear your suggestions, too!
• How have I been blessed today?
• What progress did I make toward my goals today?
• What makes me happy?
• What were my favorite things to do when I was a kid?
• What is my biggest regret? (Yes, we all have them, even if we have the higher consciousness to say that our “mistakes” taught us our greatest lessons. Hey! You can journal on that afterward!)
• If I could change one thing about myself, what would it be?
• What makes me a good parent?
• How could I be a better spouse?
• Who do I need to forgive?
• When did I judge myself harshly today?
• If someone criticizes me, how do I respond?
• What do I make it mean when I am rejected?
Whew! Okay, that’s enough for now. But I’ve got hundreds! I often post these thought-provoking questions on my facebook page so if you haven’t joined the community yet, come on over and feel free to ask questions and provide feedback. That’s where I get the ideas for my articles so if you’ve got a burning question about his topic or another, fire away!
I am serious when I say that my journal has healed my heart many times over. It is a practice that I have kept up for years because of the tremendous benefits. I trust you will find the answers you seek as well as the grace and confidence to move through life transitions and create a life that excites you just as I have.
Yours in possibility,
PS - I've recently talked about how journaling can heal relationships on my weekly video series, Wednesday's WooHoo! Check it out here and sign up for your weekly tip to bring more joy into your life right here!