Hello friends!! It is Wednesday which means it is the day for guides, how to’s, and DIY’s!! Today’s topic is something I (clearly) enjoy, and can’t wait to share with you.
I really enjoy writing, and I think I do quite a bit of it between my blogging and my journaling. I am a pretty avid journaler! I used to journal at night, but since I have been married I have changed my journaling habit. Instead of writing right before I go to bed, I typically write in my journal after breakfast or at lunch time. I don’t like writing when it takes the place of meaningful time I could be spending with my loved ones! Maybe that’s just the way I see things, but I just feel like when my husband is home I want to be with him and give him my undivided attention. But that was a little tangent.
I remember when I was serving as a full-time missionary for my church, I sometimes had missionary companions who would ask me how I stay consistent in my journal and what in the world I write about. I am the kind of person who really enjoys narratives. I enjoy sitting down and recapping the things that happened to me in a day, the lessons I learned, the things I’m grateful for, the ways I saw God’s hand in my life, etc. However, not everyone can sit down and write like that! Which brings me to the topic at hand today:
How to overcome writer’s block and keep a more meaningful journal!
I have thought long and hard about how to help people become engaged in writing and telling their stories. Before I continue, I want to acknowledge that there are many ways to keep a journal outside of writing in a book. For today, I will be talking mostly about actually writing in a traditional journal, but in the future I will also expand on some of my favorite “unconventional” journaling techniques that are so amazing and convenient!
The blue one is the current journal I am working on.
Why is writing so important?
The beauty of the written word is that it is all you. When I write in my journals, I am 150% myself. My real thoughts, my raw feelings, and my glaring weaknesses jump from the page. No one can read through my journals and tell me I am wrong, or I expressed myself in the wrong way. No one can read my words and say, “That’s not really how you felt that day,” or “The sunset really wasn’t as pretty as you described it.” When you write in a journal, you preserve your voice and give your posterity the opportunity to know you better. Writing your thoughts, feelings, and expressions in your true voice, allows you to process your life. I have found great comfort in keeping a record of my days. Writing things down allows you to internalize and feel the beauty and hardship of life. Writing in a journal also helps preserve your memories as you relive and retell your story.
How did I become passionate about journaling?
I can honestly pinpoint one thing that sparked my interest in journaling. When I was a little girl, my mom came across a journal she kept during the time that she and my dad were dating, courting, and engaged. I remember pouring over the pages of that journal and getting to know my mom on a different level. I loved reading her words. I realized in that moment that I wanted to have something to let my children read one day. So I started writing! It was sporadic at first. I went through ups and downs in writing as I went through junior high and high school, usually going a few months at a time, then tapering off for a little while. Here’s what I learned: I never regret the things I wrote. I always regret the things I didn’t write.
What do I write about?
Like I mentioned, I enjoy narratives that read like a story. I enjoy capturing moments and bringing them to life. When I write in my journal, I’m essentially giving a run down of my day, and expounding on any thoughts or feelings that come into my mind as I write. I follow every whim and tangent that pops up and just write it out. For example, I may be writing about what my husband and I had for dinner, and then I’ll go off on a tangent for a paragraph or two about how nice it feels to have a husband to eat dinner with. That’s my true voice, that’s my true brain, that’s how I capture myself in the story of my life. But the beauty is that you can write however you want to!
How do you start journaling?
I have found that most habits are easily maintained when you start them with a habit you already have. For example, I know I will say my prayers before I go to bed each day. So tying my journaling to my nightly prayers was a way I maintained that habit for a while. When life changes, you can adapt. I know I will eat lunch every day, so recently I have been journaling at lunch time. It’s a simple practice that will help you solidify new habits.
Okay, your journal is open, now what?
Whenever my missionary companions would ask me for help with journaling, they always had the hardest time beginning. And to be honest, the beginning is the hardest. Don’t be daunted by how you think it should go. Don’t try to go back and catch up. Start where you are and just begin writing with as much detail or as little detail as you want. If a long daily narrative is not your cup of tea, I find that there are simpler writing prompts and techniques that can get you going. Asking yourself one or two of these questions, and then answering them, will give you a meaningful journal entry about a truly impactful part of your day. This will give your journal depth and substance and make it a true treasure not just a day book.
- How did you see God today?
- This is one of my personal favorite prompts, because it causes me to reflect on the ways I was blessed, protected, or taken care of on any given day. There is almost always a story to go along with it. If that is the only thing I write about that day, I feel good about that because I’ve given credit where credit is due for another day of life.
- What is one lesson you learned today?
- Other variations of this question could be: What has someone taught you today? What is a new skill you learned today? Did you have an experience that you had to learn from today?
- I also love this question, because as someone on a quest to learn and grow each day, this is one way of reporting back to myself to see how I did.
- What is the most beautiful thing that happened to you today?
- If you feel like you tend to be pessimistic or cynical, writing about the beauty of the day will help you start seeing the world for good.
- What is one way your life was touched by someone else today?
- I like to acknowledge the people that enrich my daily walk. Sometimes I write about someone I know well, other times I write about the stranger who smiled at me on the street. I feel closer to the people I meet when I’m looking for ways to be impacted by them.
- What was the hardest thing you had to do today?
- Identifying your struggles and what you did to try to overcome them is very empowering. You will find your grit increases as you recognize your trials and triumphs each day.
- What is one thing that made you sad/frustrated today?
- This question is also important in maintaining your authenticity. If you didn’t have a great day, that is also worth writing about. Acknowledging the hard times makes the good times better.
- How did you feel today?
- As “hippy/healer” as it sounds, writing down your feelings can be extremely beneficial and therapeutic. Writing about how events of the day honestly made you feel helps with self awareness and mental health. There is power in letting yourself feel the emotions that come into your life instead of stifling or suppressing them. I can think of countless times where I have felt sad, nervous, or angry and writing about those feelings has led to reconciling my emotion and finding peace again.
How do you stick with it?
I think the best thing you can do if you want to start writing in your journal and stick with it is to find your purpose. Know that your purpose can be fluid and change from time to time. My current purpose for journaling is remembering. I want to keep a record now, so that 50 years from now when I’m on the other side of life and marriage I can look back and see what the beginning looked like and recognize how far I’ve come. One year ago, my purpose in journaling was to keep myself grounded and enjoying the time of life that I was in. Two years ago, my purpose in journaling was to recognize the miracles that God was working in the lives of the people of Dallas, Texas. Purposes change and evolve. What I know, is that if you don’t have a purpose for the writing you are doing, you will be faced with writer’s block every time you crack open your journal and stare at the fresh page in front of you.
Tell me how you’re doing!
If you are another avid journaler, I want to connect with you!! If you are just getting started or felt inspired to begin today, I want to connect with you too!! Follow my on Instagram and Facebook and let me know how you’re doing. @theutahborntexan
Until tomorrow, God bless you and yours!!