Journaling has been a practice enjoyed by generations throughout the passage of time. In fact, it has often served as a means of recording the minutia as well as the monumental events that have occurred during numerous lifetimes. Its current popularity is obvious when a Google search of the word reveals over thirty-seven million related matches!
Perhaps you think journaling is only for those who can write well. You worry that there are certain journal writing techniques that must be followed to be most effective. Sure, there's a wide array of books, ebooks, courses, and web sites that provide wonderful suggestions on journal writing techniques. Examples include timed sessions to answer a specific question, writing a dialog, and mapping your thoughts. However, the only rule of journaling is to be true to oneself and to follow whatever journal writing technique that you choose or create along the journey. Remember…what you write in your journal never has to be grammatically correct to be effective.
Some people approach writing in their journal as a means of making a chronological account of one's daily activities -- a diary of sorts. Others allow it to serve as a creative art form for the expression of the many thoughts, feelings, desires, and dreams that they experience. While one might benefit from journalistic writing by having it serve as a form of therapeutic treatment and/or a self-improvement tool -- perhaps by identifying negative patterns, serving as a source of inspiration, or providing a focused plan of action -- such should not be the self-imposed expectation of journaling. Write simply because you want to and only do so when you want to -- don't make it just another item on your already potentially overwhelming "To Do" list.
Perhaps the best way, or at least one of the most fun ways, to begin journaling is to enjoy the process of purchasing the perfect book. It seems like every store you enter these days has a selection of wonderful choices to capture your attention -- covers with beads, embroidery, collages, intricate patterns, and luxurious fabrics; closures of ribbons, magnets, roping, and buttons; pages of homemade paper, scented papers, lined, and unlined. You don't have to limit yourself to a standard 8-½" x 11" notebook, unless of course that's your journal of choice. If you want to splurge on a writing instrument that you might not otherwise allow yourself to use, go right ahead. Anything that will encourage your journaling habit is a good thing.
So now that you have a journal, just what journal writing topics should you write about? The second rule of journaling is "don't should on yourself!" Simply write about whatever you feel the need to. Maybe what you jot down won't seem like writing. One day you might make a list of the goals that you'd like to accomplish by the time you reach a certain age. The next day you might focus of recording recurrent dreams that you've been experiencing. Maybe one day you'll feel the need to write an "unsendable" letter to a dear friend who recently passed away before you could tell them how very much they meant to you.
If you ever experience writer's block, there are an almost endless number of journal writing topics that can be found in the same aforementioned resources for journal writing techniques. It's amazing how many web sites actually focus solely on creating suggested lists of journal writing topics. Again, a Google search of the phrase "journal writing topics" yields over nine million potential resources! A few examples of such topic suggestions include describing certain events in your life and answering "What if…," "Why do you…," and "I wish…" type questions.
Whatever journal writing techniques or journal writing topics that you choose to pursue, journaling is a very private adventure. Allow your soul to find expression in whatever journalistic manner it chooses. Create your own path to the world of journaling creativity. There simply is no right or wrong way.
Written by Donna McLaughlin Schwender, who is the “soul proprietor” of One-Eared Dog, Ink. As a freelance writer living in upstate New York, she can be reached at email@example.com.