I didn’t start journaling, journaling regularly anyway, until a creative writing class I took a several semesters ago. It was something I flirted with for, quite literally, decades. I probably have a few dozen journals, notebooks, diary’s, anything with paper and a cover, that contain perhaps a handful of filled pages each rolling around the forgotten parts of my house in boxes. Nothing impressive, nothing interesting, and certainly nothing of volume. At some point I accepted I just wasn’t a journaling type of person, as much as it pains me I didn’t even try to journal those early days of motherhood. Now in the beginning throes of teenagerhood, I wish I had something to remember the sweet days of cuddles and blankies and remind myself why I didn’t just get a dog, or a ferret, or anything that isn’t prone to diva moments that would make Mariah Carey seem reasonable.

No, instead it took an intense class of seemingly endless writing projects of all shapes and sizes at an almost frenzied pace to make me realize that apparently my brain loved and worked in this jumbled, frantic sort of way. My takeaway: I don’t journal that standard “dear diary Brad held my hand in gym class square dancing today” sort of way and I would venture to guess that most people don’t either. So, in that light, I will share what I have learned in my own personal process.

Firstly, choose your medium wisely but know it doesn’t necessarily have to remain constant. There’s some pretty interesting studies backed-up with research coming to the conclusion that good ole pen and paper is best. Something about the brains method of sorting out concepts and complex thinking. And personally, I do this some of the time, but honestly, I type a lot out too. Sometimes my thoughts are coming to fast for my lousy penmanship to keep up with and I just need to get it out. Even so, I totally carry a Moleskine or Leuchtturm1917 around like a hipster because the cool thing is, you can journal anywhere this way.

You can pretty much journal in a million different ways too. Bullet journaling has been a recent trend I think is super cool, but I’ll be honest, this is too organized for me and I am not really a day planner type of journal writer. That being said, I can appreciate the artistic expression in this method and kinda am jealous of my bullet journaling friends. IT’S JUST SO PRETTY!

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As well, you can toy around with what you journal about. Food, travel, literature, they actually make journals for singular subjects like these! Sketching journals, writing ones, I am starting to sound like Bubba and his shrimp, but the list really does go on and on. The whole point is that it is personal. Me? I change it up. I might sketch something one day and then next write a gratitude list the next. I just have to dive into it, get that canvas dirty, and not look back as to avoid over analyzing the whole process.  That’s kind of my thing and what I try to avoid. What I do always like to do is incorporate is what I am currently reading and any quotes or words that strike me and why. Otherwise, for me its free form all the way from really bad poetry, to short stories, or to congratulating myself for making it three days without having to wash my hair (yay dry shampoo). I don’t worry about grammar, continuity, none  of that. I just write for me.

But really, more than the how is the why of journaling. At its most basic, it records events. As simple as that may seem it can actually serve as way to reveal habits and patterns both good and bad. We are data collectors by nature. Throughout the day we observe and consciously and subconsciously amass hundreds and hundreds of things. Journaling, done well, turns the passive collecting into active processing and sorting. It then is a vehicle of understanding of not only events and ideas but one’s self and the space in which we occupy. It helps us with all of those important things like staying positive and framing the right mindset. Cool, right? Albert Einstein thought so. As did Benjamin Franklin and Leonardo di Vinci.

Do you journal? As always, find us on social media and tell us your experiences and tips. We love hearing from you. Until then, happy writing!