Post Updated on April 20, 2020
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 Start 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: Prepare
First things first, you need something to write on. Find a journal, an empty notebook, or a piece of paper. You don’t need a fancy journal to write in, but it helps to have one place that’s dedicated only to your journal entries.
Step Two: Commit
With any habit, you have to get clear on what you’re doing and when you’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 habit thing a lot easier.
I recently decided to try the Morning Pages method where you write three pages every single morning. Committing to this was easier than I thought because it took the guess-work out of deciding when to write. Read this post to see what I learned from writing Morning Pages for a month.
Step Three: Give Yourself Time
Depending on your writing pace and how much you have to write, you may need to give yourself solid chunk of time to journal. I typically spend 20-30 minutes writing. If you want journaling to become a habit, you need to set aside some time in your schedule every day.
Step Four: Write
Start by writing down whatever’s on your mind. Don’t filter yourself or overthink it. 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 Five: Repeat
To be consistent with journaling, you have to do it often. It’s easy to tell yourself that you don’t *need* to write today, but you’ll be surprised what you uncover if you actually decide to write. Try journaling every morning for an entire week to solidify the habit in your schedule.
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 afterward. 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.
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).