“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” Dr. Seuss
How To Get Started With Journaling
Journaling is an ancient tradition, dating back many centuries and across many different cultures. At its simplest, journaling is the act of putting your thoughts, emotions, feelings, and experiences to paper. It’s a written record of your true self—one that can be typed out using a keyboard, or written longhand on paper. There are no rules when it comes to journaling. All it takes is a willingness to write or type and to let your thoughts guide you.
For me, writing in a journal was part of a nightly ritual I performed throughout most of my early teenage years. I regularly spent fifteen to thirty minutes before bedtime putting my thoughts to paper; reliving my day, exploring my emotions, and professing my belief that my dreams would someday come true—and I’ve continued my journaling practice into the present day.
If you’ve never tried your hand at this type of writing but want to, or have tried in the past but have gotten stuck staring at a blank page, I will offer a few tips and suggestions to help make this a worthwhile exercise.
Tips and Suggestions
First, choose your setting. It’s up to you to find a convenient, tranquil place where you are physically comfortable and can easily relax. This spot might be a specific area in your home, or somewhere you can easily go when you want to begin writing. This is the place you will go to relax and focus, when you feel the urge to write.
Next, eliminate all distractions. This is paramount because you are looking for harmony. It’s the place where you go to reconnect with yourself, and in order to do that, you need to be one with your surroundings. Set your smartphone on silent and place it out of sight so you don’t feel the temptation to check it while you write. If you’re working on a laptop or desktop computer, close all open windows and programs. Turn any notification services off temporarily and set the speaker volume on mute. The goal is to keep you focused on your task and allow your thought process to flow.
Clear your Mind
Now, it’s time to clear your mind. This will help you become more tranquil and will put you in a more conducive mental state. It’s impossible to find relaxation and calmness while your brain is going full speed. You can either meditate for a few moments before starting your session, or just take a few deep breaths. Close your eyes and sit quietly until you feel you are ready to get started. The time it takes between sitting down and opening to a blank page and actually doing some writing is highly subjective, and it might be different each time. But when it’s time to get started, you will know it.
Time to Write
Now it’s time to just write. Whatever thoughts pop into your head, you should go ahead and write them down on the page. You can write paragraphs, sentences, bulleted lists, or just jot down words and phrases. This is a completely unstructured exercise.
It's All about You
Journaling is about you—and discriminating what goes on the page is also up to you. You can pull some thoughts forward while leaving others behind. How you journal isn’t what’s important. What you journal is. You are taking the time to collect your thoughts and write those out because it feels good to express them. It feels good to release pent-up emotions from the body. It feels good to gain a few moments to reconnect with yourself.
What to Write
Whatever you decide to write, that’s what you are going to write. You may have had a horrible day at work and need to vent. You may be wrestling with family issues. You may be nervous or anxious about a future event. Or you may just be pondering your mystery questions of life. Whatever it is that is on your mind is what you’ll write about. Journaling is a stream of consciousness exercise, so be sure not to censor yourself. What comes out of your head may sound uncomfortable, but it’s important to honor that in order to gain the most benefit from this practice.
If you happen to get stuck at any point along the way, remember to focus on your thoughts and on what brought you here. Don’t get trapped staring at the page waiting to write. Stand up, move around the room, meditate, or go for a short walk. Any of these practices will allow you to hit that reset button and get back to focusing on your thoughts. The writing will begin flowing once more.
Regardless of where your practice takes you, remember that you came to journaling for a reason. It’s entirely up to you to determine when you write, what you write, and how you write. But most importantly, never forget the reason why you write. If it brings you happiness, contentment, and relaxation, it’s a worthy endeavor. Journaling will always be there for you when you need it, so honor that. Put those thoughts to words when the impulse strikes. You may be surprised by what you learn.
Vince Guaglione is a featured blogger on The Squeaky Pen. He's penned quite a few books and one specifically on journaling. If you need any services, such as writing, editing, or graphics, please click here.
Vince Guaglione is a guy who asks lots of questions, not only of himself but also of his society and the world around him. Although he claims he's found no real answers, that hasn't stopped him in his quest to gain perspective on a little something we call life.
Vince writes mainly in the personal transformation genre, but also writes short fiction and dark poetry. His Narratives collection of works can best be described as his unique brand of personal journaling focusing on humanism, consciousness and thought, philosophy, and self-discovery.
His most recent work, titled "The Narratives: From The Heart," the seventh in the series, continues to document his journey towards personal growth and self-actualization.
When he's not at his real job, you can find him sucking down venti-sized coffees at a brisk pace his local Starbucks, thinking up new writing projects, or pondering his mystery questions of life. Originally from Philadelphia PA, Vince now resides in Raleigh NC.
Universal link: From Thoughts To Written Words