Often in conversation with people, I mention that I keep a journal. Invariably, the response is, "I should do that."
I've been keeping a journal since I was about fourteen (with a brief hiatus in my early twenties) and I can't tell you all the great things it's done for me. It's helped me clarify my thoughts. It's helped me understand myself better. It keeps a record of what I've done and felt over time. It's what started me on the road to writing.
I strongly recommend journal-writing to everyone, but especially people who struggle with knowing their own mind; people who aren't always connected to their feelings; and anyone who wants to write.
Here are some tips for starting and keeping a journal:
1. Find your medium.
I write and think much faster through a keyboard than a pen, so I keep my journal as a file on my laptop. I know now that's what works best for me. But before that, I used nice pens and those expensive spiral-bound notebooks with vivid pictures and inspirational quotes. And before that, I used big pads of drawing paper, and I wrote in colorful markers. (This was inspired by the book Inspiration Sandwich by Sark.) Figure out how you think and write best. You should be able to get thoughts to page in the most direct way possible.
2. Maintain consistency.
I suggest writing for a few minutes every day. Sometimes those few minutes will be all you need, and sometimes they'll grow. Put it on your to-do list, but don't beat yourself up if you don't get to it. Guilt is the first step to not doing it at all.
3. Start with the easy stuff.
I always start by writing about what I've done over the past day. It's a quick way to get going, and often spirals into deeper thoughts and feelings based on the events I'm writing about. As an additional perk, you'll have a record of major (and minor) events in your life if you ever need to settle a dispute with your spouse over when something happened.
Please comment below if you have any further questions about journal-writing, or my personal journal habits. I would love to help/encourage others with this valuable routine!
PS- I've had to re-enable the code type-in on comment posting because I was getting spammed. It takes less than a second to type in the code. Remember that it is case sensitive.