Have you ever had so many thoughts in your head and feelings in your heart that you cannot seem to make sense of any of them? Have you ever struggled with writing your whole life and hope to someday become a better writer?
If either, or both, answers are yes, I have a solution for you: journaling.
A journal provides a safe space to express, and thus work through, your thoughts and feelings. Not only that, but journaling can lead to developments in your writing skills along the way.
Take it from me, who having answered yes to both of the questions above and found the answer in journaling, my mind now feels free, my heart now feels heard and my writing has never sounded better.
And it will work for you, too.
So, what is journaling?
Journaling, in the simplest of words, is the practice of informal writing. And it can be practiced for a variety of personal or creative reasons.
In personal terms, maybe you want to:
- express the abundance of thoughts and feelings in your mind and your heart to better understand them
- simply record your day-to-day activities or goals to stay organized
- gratitude journal – jotting down all the positive things in your day, week, month, year or even life that you are grateful for to increase your well-being
In a creative sense, maybe you hope to:
- write down new ideas that come to your imagination to explore them further
- become more consistent with your writing to better, or even perfect, your craft
Whatever the case – keeping a journal is a way to hold yourself accountable when it comes to writing to reap the benefits.
Why does journaling matter?
As said above, journaling is a free form of self-expression that leads to improvement in all aspects. By journaling every day, you routinely practice expressing and reflecting upon your emotions, activities, goals, gratitude and ideas.
For writers, though, the benefits are especially true:
- Forces daily practice à When wanting to write, one of your biggest enemies is the blank page staring right back at you. Through journaling though, you are forced to develop a regular routine of writing that will thus result in the inevitable growth in your writing skills.
- Allows new ideas à When you are constrained to a specific story you are in the midst of writing, or a certain genre your stories fit into, journaling paves a way for you to explore outside of those constraints (and maybe even find something new along the way).
- Helps combat writer’s block à When you write so much it can be easy to get stuck. But with journaling, you can try to get unstuck. A great way journaling can do this is by giving yourself a daily prompt to write about in order to get your creative juices flowing.
- Provides pressure-free writing à When writing for the outside world, pressure can come from a lot of places: deadlines, agents, fans, the final product, etc. Journaling provides a safe place hidden away from all of those things. It’s a place where you get to throw the clock out of the window and not consider anyone’s opinions but your own. This way, you get to write whenever you want, about whatever you want, fully focusing on the process instead of the product. And guess what? The final product does not have to meet anyone’s expectations but yours.
Where to start?
So, now that you have decided to pursue journaling, where do you start? You should do this by developing a thought-out journaling routine that works for you.
Here are the questions to ask yourself:
- Do I want to journal when I wake up, or before I go to bed?
If you are a morning person where your creativity most likely flows in the morning, try journaling right when you wake up, or maybe accompany your coffee with a pen and paper. On the other hand, if you are someone who finds a safe haven in your bed at late hours, try journaling before you go to sleep.
- What kind of journaling do I want to accomplish?
There are a variety of types of journaling you can do either in the morning or at night. For starters there is day-to-day journaling, where you can either write down what your goals are for the day ahead of you, or you could write down what you accomplished that day. Aside from this, you can gratitude journal which is when you write down whatever you are grateful for. Or you can try prompt journaling – you get a prompt a day to write or reflect on. Lastly, you can simply write down whatever comes to mind to you when you sit down to journal.
- How long do I want to journal for?
Other than when you want to journal and what kind of journaling speaks to you, maybe you want to consider setting a time dedicated to journaling. This way, you will not cut your creativity short.
There are many benefits to journaling for non-writers and writers. Aside from the daily practice, it is a way to freely express yourself in order to manage any positive or negative thoughts and feelings, all of which result in improved writing and sense of self.
Better yet? You could start right here, right now. With Burning Soul Collective’s 30-Day Writing Challenge – prompts and guidance that challenge you to 30 days of thoughtful, meaningful, and powerful writing – you can dig deep in yourself and in your writing.