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I am not the kind of person who loves to journal. There are people who love it and they are the people who have written everyday since they got a Lisa Frank diary in middle school. However, that is not me, I think the most consistent I have ever been with journaling was 2 weeks, maybe. Most of the time I feel like it is very much a chore. I get frustrated because I will only journal for a few days and then it's back to a journal free life. In theory, it is a great practice, but I can’t understand how journaling doesn’t seem enjoyable for me.
I started to think of the reasons why I didn’t like journaling and what I could do so I would journal and enjoy it! The more I thought about it, the more I realized that even though I enjoy writing, I didn’t enjoy writing about the day to day occurrences, to me it was very monotonous. So, I took some time and thought about what prevents me from journaling and different ways of journaling that would make it more enjoyable for me, because who says it can only be done one way?
Getting Prepared for Journaling
Set aside time every day. It seems daunting but it doesn’t have to be multiple pages long, maybe a few sentences will do for a particular day. Think of ways to remember to journal. You can set an alarm, put it on your to-do list, or pick a general time of the day. For example, to form a habit, you might decide to journal before you get out of bed in the morning or right before you go to sleep at night.
Additionally you will want to think about where you will be most productive to do your journaling. Will you fall asleep if you are in bed? Maybe a table would be better. Do you need some noise in the background? Maybe you should consider a quiet coffee shop or café.
Another important aspect of preparing to journal is deciding how you want to journal. I have decided a lined journal is not for me. Find a format of journaling that works for you. Some people would rather write in a traditional paper journal but others may enjoy using something electronic such as a document on your computer or apps on your phone.
I tried a few apps and really liked one called “Journo." I particularly enjoyed it because I could add photos and videos to an entry or just add the photo/video. If you are interested in an app, you’ll want to look through them to make sure they will fit your needs for a journal. Other apps that I tried didn’t work for me. One app added all of my photos to a journal - it was slightly annoying because I didn’t want to document every photograph from my phone in the journal. It auto populated the journal with EVERY photo!
You might consider other nontraditional ways of journaling such as scrapbooks, blogs you can set to private, or a photo album. One of my favorites is my sketchbook. Other things such as appointment books or index cards and a holder would work too.
Your content will likely shape what you will use to record it in. Don’t be afraid to step outside the traditional methods of journaling and find a style of recording that works for you. Some people like to write in a narrative but you could just as easily create lists, draw pictures, add a photo, etc. Something that I have been doing is choosing a verse that stands out to me. I put it in my journal and illustrate or decorate it. I use marker pens mostly but occasionally I will use watercolors. I have also been challenging myself to take at least one photograph a day. I enjoy both because they fit more into my personality than keeping track of many details about my day. Both methods also allow me to be able to record more thoughts if I feel they need more explanation.
I think the most important thing about journaling is knowing the information that you want to keep track of. Do you want to record events and how you felt about an activity that happened during the day? Do you want to write/illustrate something about what you are reading? Journals can be used to record ideas for projects. Like I mentioned before, I often use my journal to meditate on a Scripture. I write the verse down and then doodle or draw around it while I am thinking about the verse. I have a friend that kept a journal of prayer requests on index cards in a holder so that she could take them out and pray for them, write updates and record when God answered that prayer. Journaling can be as simple as a few sentences, a drawing or simply a photograph.
Simply put, journaling is recording life. Regardless of what form we choose, it is a physical reminder of what God is doing in our lives, and of His goodness that surrounds us.
How do you like to journal? Do you find it comes easy or difficult for you?