What should I write about? Will it sound dumb? Will I run out of ideas before I even get started?
Keeping a journal can be a rewarding experience, but lots of people don’t know where to begin. Perhaps the best way is to decide what kind of journaling you want to do, though this isn’t always easy. There are all kinds of different strategies, ideas, and purposes behind journaling.
My personal favorites are reflection and goal journals, but everyone has a different favorite.
And that’s okay!
1. Visit Dream Land
There was a green robot. It had three fingers and twenty toes, and it was eating a peanut butter sandwich, and…
Dream journals are a lot of fun. Most people write in their dream journals immediately upon waking, which allows them to “get down” every aspect of the dream they had while sleeping. Furthermore, dreams often tell us things about ourselves we didn’t know, and many people have found “dream journaling” to be a rather insightful experience.
A “record-keeping” journal is nothing but the facts. Whether you’re on a diet or keeping track of the various birds you see, a record-keeping journal let’s you record and store information. These kinds of journals are also great to look back on in attempt to find patterns in the information.
3. Be Grateful
Gratitude journals are extremely rewarding. Write a list of 5-10 things you’re grateful for every single day. If you can’t think of 5-10, write down 1 or 2 things you’re grateful for. Your list is sure to grow as you begin noticing new great things about your life. If you already have more than 10, consider yourself an extremely lucky and grateful person!
4. Online journal/Blog
Online journaling, or blogging, has gained popularity in recent years. Whether you’re using Livejournal, or hosting your own blog through WordPress, online journaling allows you to connect with an audience. This separates it from traditional journaling, which is typically an isolated experience.
If words aren’t your thing, consider a collage or art journal. Cut pictures out of magazines or draw your own–it doesn’t matter! Expressing yourself through art can be just as rewarding as writing down your emotions.
6. Ideas, Ideas, Ideas,
Are you the brilliant thinker? The entrepreneur in the crowd? Use a journal to write down those wacky ideas your friends are always making fun of you for. Don’t hold back. This is the place to express yourself. If an idea sounds crazy, write it down anyway. It may develop into something more over time!
Scholars regularly publish in academic journals, but what about keeping your own personal academic journal? Whether you’re reading Proust for the 3rd time or observing butterflies in your backyard, write down your insights and hypotheses. You never know what brilliant phenomenon you might discover.
8. Journaling as A Gift
A gift journal is unlike every other journal because *gasp* it’s not meant for you. A good example is a parent who keeps a journal for his/her small child before giving it to them when they turn 18. But it doesn’t have to be a child, of course. Record memories, insights, and loving thoughts for any special person in your life.
9. Personal Reflection/Therapy
Therapy and personal reflection journals can be difficult. You might not want to delve into certain aspects of your past or remember the bad things that happened to you.
But it can be extremely helpful in allowing you to move on from those things. Many psychologists even recommend journaling to their patients as a way to work through their feelings.
A goal-oriented journal is probably my very very favorite. The premise is simple: Just record your goals–both long-term and short-term–and track your progress. You’ll be amazed (and proud!) when a month, a year, or a decade goes by and you can look back and see all that you’ve accomplished.
Many people like to incorporate several journal ideas into one–and that’s fine! Just pick your favorite ideas and begin journaling.
Do you keep a journal? Has it has enhanced your life in any way?