Journaling 101: What It Is and Why You Should Do It

Written by : Ica Lim

Is writing not your cup of tea? Don’t fret–flowery prose and skilful rhetoric shouldn’t keep you from expressing your thoughts and feelings. Journaling is not as hard as it seems! If it’s the skill you’re worried about, we’re happy to tell you that this habit will do more than just keeping you occupied. 

Journaling is the practice of writing down your thoughts, feelings, or even personal accounts of events in a journal or diary. The act itself is quite simple but the effects are profound. Many consider it a habit and a means of catharsis–but you don’t have to think of your journal that way. It’s a personal journey that comes with steady growth. 

Now that we’ve explained what journaling is, here are some helpful tips to get you started!

Get a medium that suits your personality. 

Every person is unique and your journal is a personal trove of your deepest thoughts. That said, the material doesn’t have to be a bunch of paper. The more creative you get, the more likely you are to follow through with the habit. 

You can get a photo album and write down small captions of why a certain photograph you took speaks to you. A scrapbook is also an alternative, giving you more space to create a colourful catharsis. If you’re a techy person, your laptop works fine–just make sure to keep all your journal entries safe and secure. 

Don’t force a strict schedule.

There’s no absolute best time to write down your thoughts and feelings. Most times, the urge comes naturally! The more you force a stream of consciousness to flow, the less fun and fruitful the practice will seem. Not everyone is inclined to jot down an entry strictly before breakfast. Choose a time of day you are likely to feel most inspired. 

Got something you want to get off your chest? Write it down after lunch. A thought keeping you up at night? Let your journal be your safe space. Gather your thoughts, pick a comfy spot, and relax. Writing at your own time and pace helps with articulation. 

Practice healthy journaling.

Heads up! We may have established that journaling is good for you but there still is a fine line to be drawn when the practice becomes self-deprecating. Many use journals to express their deepest and most private thoughts but when self-blame and intolerance become the central theme in the narrative, you might want to re-think your approach to the practice.

Journaling isn’t confining but neither should it be abused. You need to remind yourself that understanding your strong emotions requires structure and discipline. You are writing to purge, yes, but you must also consider what this may be teaching you about yourself. Catharsis with no self-analysis is unhealthy. Shift gears when needed. 

Don’t worry about grammar and spelling!

For this, we forgive you. The goal of journaling is to reflect and better understand yourself, not to publish an award-winning book! If anything, we encourage you to write what comes to you naturally–eloquent or not. What’s important is that YOU understand what you write and are consciously working on areas to improve on. 

Speaking of things to work on, if it’s being a good writer you are intimidated by, you can hit two birds with one stone with journaling! As a habit, constant writing will help improve your writing style. The more you hone your articulation, the more likely you are to produce more poetic entries–and they may just come out naturally! 

Change your writing environment from time to time.

Sometimes, inspiration can come when you least expect it. You can’t necessarily force it but there are external factors you can alter to bring odds in your favour. Changing your writing environment is one way to achieve this. Your surroundings can directly influence your stream of consciousness. 

Perhaps it’s after a walk in a park or during a coffee break in a cosy cafe. A shift in the atmosphere can trigger memories or thoughts that compel you to write. Even better, a change in environment may enhance focus and self-reflection. When they come, entertain them as best you can. 

Got any more tips you can share about journaling? Let us know! 

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