Starting a personal journal can be very daunting. I remember just watching my notebook and pen from afar. Thinking “What the hell should I do now?”, “Where do I even start?”. I had so many questions running through my mind because I wanted to “do this right”.
Here are the biggest questions that I asked myself. They stopped me from starting my personal journal sooner. Remember, there are no right answers. Making rules about how and when you should write in your journal will just create unnecessary road blocks.
I will simply give some pointers and share my experience. I hope this article will help some of you to “just do it!”.
How long should I write for?
I would recommend to start by taking small steps (they usually are the ones that make the biggest difference in your life). By small steps, I mean taking 5 minutes in your day to reflect.
For example, whatever happens during my day I know that I will always spend 2 minutes in the morning and 2 minutes at night to write in my Personal Journal app. I always start my day with gratitude, positive affirmation and goals. It puts me in the right headspace for the rest of the day.
As you get more and more confortable and confident with your writing, just go for it! Let it out! There is no limit to how long you should write for. If 30 minutes to an hour in the morning helps, then be it.
How long should my entry be?
The length of your entry does not determine the effectiveness of journaling. As long as you feel like you’re getting something out of your practice, it is all that matters. If you love writing using bullet points – go for it! If you prefer to separate your thoughts using paragraphs – go for it too!
When is the best time of day to write in my journal?
If at any time journaling feels like a waste of time, don’t do it.
Just go with your gut.
Some people find that they are more effective and productive during the day when they write first thing in the morning. Others prefer to write before going to bed.
You can also choose to do short sessions throughout the day, instead of one long session in the morning or at night.
Personally, I prefer to space out my writing. A bit in the morning, and a bit at night. But I do prefer journaling first thing in the morning as I drink my smoothie. It just feels right to me.
What should I write about?
I would recommend starting with the base: gratefulness.
What are you grateful for today? Gratitude is proven to increase positivity, health and happiness. It is such a simple yet powerful exercise that I think everyone should do. Just like you drink to hydrate. Just like you exercise to keep fit. Just like you eat to stay energised. You need gratitude to be happy.
What you write also depends on your personal goals. Why do you want to start a personal journal in the first place? For example:
- To reduce stress
- To heal mentally or physically
- To grow
- To let it out and let it go (whatever it is)
- To improve mental clarity
Acknowledge your goal(s) when you start your personal journal. Explain why. Explain what you want to get out of it. Let it flow.
Is there a writing style I need to follow?
When I took that pen in my hand, I felt like I had the duty to become some type of J.K. Rowling. Which is why I started my journey by using the app. It is simple, fast and I get out what I need to get out.
Your personal journal is your space to be yourself 100%. Don’t try to mimic other people’s style and journaling booklet. Speak your mind with your own words and creativity. Don’t set yourself boundaries. Set yourself free.
Should I keep it all positive or can I write down what bothers me?
Now, that’s a very personal question to answer.
My goal starting a personal journal was “to keep a positive mindset and lead a positive life”. So my personal journal mostly is about positivity: my personal and professional goals, my accomplishments, the things that made me happy that day, the things I am grateful for, the progress I am making (whatever the progress might be, even the smallest things). On occasions, when I need to get something off my chest, I will write it out. Because I’d rather do that than be a negative Nancy to my partner or friends. Because remember, my goal is: “to keep a positive mindset and lead a positive life”. So I’ll “scream” in text.
So “scream” in text if you feel like it.
But I recommend you don’t subscribe to issues and negativity in your personal journal. Keep that place, your happy place.
How much detail should I include?
No need to freak out and think that you have to write paragraphs and paragraphs.
Start with lists and bullet points. They’re the best way and the fastest way to let it out. Then just expand on your main idea.
For example, I always start my day with this question: “What are 3 things I am grateful for today?”. I start with one bullet point 1)………. . Then if I feel like expanding my answer, I will do it. Otherwise, I just continue onto my next point. All I want is to be aware of what I have and focus on the good.
Your personal journal is not a prison nor is it a school. Don’t think that there should be rules on “how to do it right”. You alone by taking that first step will make it right. Writing a journal now will change your life later.
Do you have any questions or tips? Tell me in the comments below.