How to Motivate Yourself to Keep a Journal
I love to write in a journal. I’m that person who walks into the bookstore and starts to drool. Not over the books filled with words but the beautiful blank books with line upon line of open space calling to be written on. Okay, maybe they don’t call but they definitely beguile me more often than not so they have to be saying something. Guilty pleasure, I smell them, the covers and the pages. I try not to be to obvious but yeah I smell them. Before you click away thinking ‘this lady is a fruitcake’, hear me out.
I know everyone does not love blank books and journal writing like I do, but if you read my post here, hopefully you see some of the wonderful ways keeping a journal can bless your life.
Journal writing is something that has to become a habit and the way to build a habit is to do it regularly. If I am going to do something regularly there has to be something motivating me to do it. There are times that I don’t feel like writing in my journal. There have been times where I only wrote once a month or even less.
I thought I would share with you a few tips and tricks that I have used to help me stay motivated to keep a journal.
Get a journal you love.
Go to the store and pick a journal you love. Whatever your eye is drawn to will probably work. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about it as long as you love it. Your journal doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive. I have a couple of journals that are nothing more than spiral bound notebooks. I love them as much as the fancy stuff…although I smell the leather ones once in a while. (I really am a fruitcake.)
If you are starting a journal for the first time, I would suggest getting something small. It can be overwhelming to open a 8 1/2″ x 11″ journal and have these huge pages full of lines staring you in the face. You’ll write everything that happened in a week and it will take a quarter of a page. Then what? You’ll get discouraged pretty quickly when your lovely pages aren’t even close to full. Pocket notebooks are great if you’re a little hesitant because you can quickly jot something down and you’ve filled an entire page. I also prefer journals with lines because my writing starts slanting off the page pretty fast on a line less page.
A quick thought there are journals made with special paper that resists yellowing. They are nice but don’t feel obligated to get one. Stick with the ‘get what you like’ rule.
Next is your writing instrument.
Pick an awesome pen.
Yes, now you should walk through the pens until you find something you like. This is the time to pick whatever you want…as long as it’s a pen. Pencils fade over time, even a short time, so stick with a pen. When I was in high school I had a great pack of multicolored pens. Each night I wrote in a different color in a patterned order. The problem was I misplaced one and then I switched to using one color until it ran out and then moving on to the next. I think I wrote more that year simply because I wanted to move on to the next color. Silly, yes, but it motivated me to write.
You can buy special pens that don’t bleed and have special archival ink if you want but it doesn’t really matter. The important thing is that you like the pen and want to write with it. Personally I like Pilot Precise V5 Rolling Ball in extra fine point. They’re not expensive and they don’t bleed. I hate when pens bleed. I love these pens so much I hide them from my family.
Set a regular time to write.
Writing in your journal will be easier if you set aside a specific time to do it. Sunday afternoons work best for me because I don’t usually have anything else scheduled. Then if I happen to write another time during the week, great but for sure I don’t miss my Sunday afternoon to summarize the week.
I find writing in my journal once a week is a good goal. Once a week is not an overwhelming amount of time to spend writing in a journal. There have been periods in my life when I wrote once a month and it worked alright. If you are new to it though I would stick with once a week at least until it becomes a habit.
Don’t worry about what to write.
I think many people avoid a journal because they think their lives are boring and they don’t have anything to write. Looking at a blank page can also be overwhelming because you start thinking about who is going to be reading it rather than what you want to write on the page. I’m tell you, who cares what anyone thinks? Most of my journal entries are boring and silly but they are a record of who was and who I have become, which isn’t silly. The funny thing about regularly writing in a journal is that you will find yourself going through your week and mentally saying, ‘I need to write this in my journal’ because suddenly you notice small, meaningful moments that you don’t want to forget.
Frankly, day-to-day events are often times boring but that’s not the only thing you can write about. Write about strange weather, political problems, thoughts and impressions you’ve had, or strange things you see people do at the grocery store. I once saw a lady with a dog tattoo on her calf. Every time she stepped her calf moved and made it look like the dog was wagging it’s tail. My daughter and I were together when we saw that and we still giggle about it because I wrote it in my journal.
Try journal prompts, which abound online. Prompts usually have you answer a question about yourself. It’s a good way to get going if you’re having a hard time getting started. When I was a teenager, I gave my mom a journal jar with prompts written on slips of paper. She wrote one each week in her journal until all the prompts were gone. It took her years to finish but when she did gave me her journal for Christmas. It is the best Christmas present I have ever gotten.
Find a way that works for you.
Not every one likes to write. For example, my husband does not like to write in a journal at all. Not even a little bit. He has dictated entries and recorded stories from his grandparents as journal entries. The great thing is there are so many options that do not involve writing. There are apps, art journals with pictures instead of words, or keep a journal on your computer and type it if that works better for you.
The key is to do it. Your family will thank you one day.
You will thank you one day.