Remember when you were a kid, and it seemed really cool to have a diary? Especially the ones with a lock and key! I remember having one of those, and it was one of the greatest feelings ever to have a place to store my secrets. I didn’t know it then, but writing in that diary was about to change my life; it opened my eyes to the world of journaling.
There are so many different types of journals these days. For example, you can keep a food journal and document your weight loss journey or your journey to eating clean. You can keep a dream journal and write about your goals and dreams, and how you plan to achieve them. If you’re an avid traveler, you can even have a journal to document your trips. The possibilities are endless.
How to Start a Journal
There isn’t a right or wrong way to maintain a journal. You can choose to write with a theme in mind or you can choose to write about a variety of topics. Writing with a theme in mind helps keep your journey organized and focused. How can you start keeping an organized journal? Simply buy a few different journals. (Don't be like me and go overboard with buying as many cute and colorful ones you can find.) Then, choose a purpose for each one.
As of right now, I am currently using (only!) two journals. One is structured more like a diary. I started it because I wanted to document my business journey. The other is for creative writing. I include quite a few streams of consciousness entries in here in addition to responses to writing prompts. Although I try to maintain one purpose for these journals, I admit I have strayed away at times.
If you’re more into the eclectic approach, you can choose to write any and everything in one journal. If you’re inspired by a quote, you can write it in your journal and expand on it. If you find a newspaper clipping that really intrigues you, you can glue it in there and write about why you chose to do so. You can even write down questions you want to explore. For example, if you’re contemplating furthering your education, but are having second thoughts, write about it! You may be surprised at how it helps you form a decision.
Benefits of Journaling
So, why is journaling even important for you as a writer? I mean, there’s so much going on and you don’t always have time to get enough done on your current blog. And there's that manuscript you haven't finished yet. Trust me. My family of five keeps life interesting. Like anything else, you have to make time for it. There are various benefits to maintaining a journal, many which are backed by science. Some of these reasons include:
Improves clarity and communication skills.
There’s an awesome quote by Flannery O’Connor that says:
“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”
Oftentimes, I struggle to communicate verbally (please tell me I'm not the only writer like this!). Journaling helps me achieve clarity because I can write out my thoughts, process what I’ve written, and better understand my position before communicating with others.
Everyone has a unique coping mechanism for dealing with stress. Mine is journaling. I may never tell a soul about the hardships I’m facing, but I can write about it. Without a positive coping mechanism like journaling, it can be easy to get yourself worked up so much that you find yourself facing health problems like high blood pressure, headaches, anxiety, and even accelerated aging.
Journaling not only allows you to document important events that transpire, but it can unleash your inner creative! Your journal entries could even lead to your first (or next) flash fiction idea or nonfiction book.
Writing in your journal can help you learn more about who you are and can help answer questions you have about why you react the way you do in certain situations. Journaling can also help you identify your truths. Many people are unaware of their values, their interests, their passions, and dreams. As a writer, if you struggle with sharing your truths, I encourage you to give journaling a try. Having this kind of self-awareness can definitely help shape your writing.
Journaling for Writers
Whether you are a nonfiction or fiction writer, a blogger, or a creative coach, you create content for your readers. Journaling for self-awareness can help you and your readers tremendously. I know because it has helped me connect with my readers. If you want to learn more about how journaling for self-awareness can help you create authentic and relevant content for your readers, then I invite you to join my Write.Reflect.Create. challenge, which lasts from October 17 - November 6.
This is a journaling challenge for writers, bloggers and creative coaches who want to use self-discovery to create content that helps them connect with their readers and meet their needs. Registration is open through October 15th. You can find out more here.