How To Start A Journaling Practice (+ 25 Free Journal Prompts)
I’ve kept a journal for as long as I can remember. Back in the day, I spent my time writing about boys who didn’t like me and girls I was jealous of. If only I could read through those old journal entries, I’d be giggling at how naive and trivial my concerns were then.
The truth is that writing has always been my therapy. Whenever I need to get something off my chest, I open up a blank page and let the words flow out.
Of course, there are times when journaling feels like a chore. Sometimes I have nothing to write, so why should I bother? (Here’s why you should, by the way).
Over the years, I’ve learned that journaling works best when you make it a habit (and keep writing even when you don’t want to).
Maybe you’re sitting there thinking you have no idea what to fill your journals with (journal hoarders, unite!). Maybe you love the idea of journaling, but you don’t know where to start. Maybe your goal is to make journaling a habit but you get writer’s block whenever you open the page. If you can relate to any of those scenarios, this post is for you!
I’ve put together this mini-guide to journaling to help you make it a habit and reduce writer’s block. Plus, I’ve put together 25 journal prompts to inspire you when you’re stuck!
How To Create a Journaling Practice
Let’s get down to the basics of journaling. Whether you’re new to journaling or you’ve been doing it for years, I’ve put together a few tips to help you out:
Step One: Commit
The first step to creating a journaling habit is to choose when you’ll commit to writing. With any habit, we have to get clear on what we’re doing and when we’re going to do it. Think about when you’d like to write, how long you’ll write for, and how often you’ll write. Morning or night? For five minutes or until you’ve written three pages? Every day or once a week? Get clear on this and it’ll make the whole habit thing a lot easier.
Step Two: Prepare
Once you’ve committed to your habit, start writing! Find a journal, empty notebook, a piece of paper, or anything that you can write on. Try to find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed.
Step Three: Start Writing
Start by writing down whatever’s on your mind. Don’t filter yourself. Be honest. Let the thoughts flow. Think about what’s on your mind right now. What are those topics that you’re drawn to? What’s taking up your mental energy. Now read back through what you’ve written. Do you notice any recurring themes or patterns? Has anything become clearer? Do you know what you need to do next?
Step Four: Take Action
Often the act of releasing these thoughts can provide great relief, and you’re ready to move on with your day. But before you close your journal, think of an action step you can take. This could be a to-do list item, a positive affirmation, or something to stop doing completely. What will you do now that this is off your chest?
Step Five: Reflect
Read back through your journal entries over time. See how far you’ve come, reflect on what you’ve accomplished, and cherish your old memories.
Read This Next: Why You Should Make Time For Self-Reflection
Dealing with Writer’s Block
What happens when you think you have nothing to write? There have been plenty of times when I’ve opened up a blank page only to find I have absolutely no idea what to write. Other times, I have ideas and thoughts in my head, but for some reason they won’t come out onto the pages.
Part of dealing with writer’s block is remembering that nothing has to be perfect the first time. Often we get stumped because we think our writing needs to be cohesive and insightful.
In reality, it’s more therapeutic to write a bunch of nonsense and make sense of it afterwards. So much of what I end up writing is complete garbage, but it helps anyway. We often forget that nobody else will read our journals (hopefully, right?), so let go of perfectionism and write whatever comes to mind!
Read This Next: 12 Self-Care Books & Prompts For Journal Lovers
25 Journal Prompts for Self-Reflection
Need a little inspiration to get you going? I’ve put together a printable list of 25 journal prompts that you can use the next time you want to write. Just click the button below to get the prompts!
Free Journal Prompts for a Better Mindset
Get 25 journaling prompts to clear your head and improve your mindset on a daily basis (even if you don’t know what to write about).