There you are; you decided to journal. Maybe you bought your first notebook because it called out to you in the store. Or perhaps you grabbed some paper you already had on hand. It doesn’t matter what you use. You can journal on everything and anything, even on scrap paper. The most important thing is that you decided to start. And that’s the first step.
But then, the second step is actually starting to journal. How do you do that? The simplest answer is: butt in chair, pen in hand and just write. I know, easier said than done, right? But journalling in its simplest form is just that. Just sit and write. Don’t think about what you’re going to write, and just let the pen take you places.
However, if you’re super new to journaling, there are a few things you can do to make it easier to get started. So here are a few tips to get you going.
Set a time and a timer
For me, it helped me to have a dedicated time to journal. So every morning, right after breakfast (or showering), I go to my desk, and I write for a set time. I’ve been doing it for so long now that it’s become part of my routine. I finish breakfast, and then my brain knows: it’s time to write. That makes starting to write a lot easier, and it’s become a habit.
Next, it helps not to think about anything else than writing. I have a set number of pages I write every morning, but I know many people who put a timer. Set a timer for 15 minutes and just write, don’t do anything else in those 15 minutes. It helps to keep you focused on what you’re doing.
Keep your pen moving
The most important thing you can do when writing is to keep your pen moving. Don’t stop to think about what you’re going to write next. Keep your pen onto the paper and keep writing.
This doesn’t mean that you have to race through the page. That means that you just write whatever pops into your head and don’t give yourself time to think about it. You will disable your inner critic, your inner perfectionist, and allow yourself to access deeper layers that will provide you with insights you might not have gotten when you try just to think your way through something.
Play some music
I love to journal in silence, so I can fully sink into my subconscious. However, sometimes there are moments when my inner voice just keeps screaming at me about all the things I still have to do: email that client, do the laundry, and don’t forget to buy bananas. Sometimes the most random things will come up when I’m writing. It’s like my brain is trying to distract me and keep me from going to that uncomfortable place that it does not want to go to.
In those cases, it helps to play some music. Some meditation music or binaural beats are great for this. They will help your mind relax and silence the inner voices, giving them no space to shout at you. If that helps to get you going and to keep writing, by all means, use it. What’s essential is that journalling is a relaxing experience that helps and supports you. So make it as comfortable as possible. Maybe you’d like to light a candle – go for it.
Practise makes perfect
Don’t feel like you’re getting into it? Don’t worry; keep at it. Journalling is a habit; the more you do it, the better it gets and the easier it will go. On the rare moments where I take a break from it due to life happening, it always takes me a while to get back into it. And that’s ok. Be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself to get into the flow.
Keep writing. Stick to it. You’ve got this.