Journaling can be a useful practice, both in business and in daily life. But sometimes it seems hard to create the writing habit.
In this guide, you’ll learn the ins and outs of writing journal entries so you can build a daily journaling habit.
What Is a Journal?
In thinking about how to journal daily, one point that can be confusing is the difference between a journal and keeping a diary.
- In a diary, you often record the things you most want to keep track of, such as daily activities and appointments.
- In contrast, a journal may have more depth, and contain your experiences, thoughts and observations.
Of course, it's not quite as straightforward as that. Some of the most famous writers of the past were known as diarists (Samuel Pepys is one example). They kept daily extended diaries, which are more like what we consider to be journals today.
Why It's Good to Build a Journaling Habit
So, why does it make sense to think about how to start a journal? Journaling can be helpful in many ways. Some of the benefits include:
1. Helping You Heal
Within your life. If you've undergone trauma or are dealing with a difficult experience, writing out your feelings can help with the healing process. In fact, it's a tool that many therapists recommend, as people struggle to deal with some of the deepest issues that they face.
2. Stress Relief
Related to healing, journaling can help with stress reduction. If you're feeling big emotions that are hard to deal with, such as anger, it can be a good way to express those feelings safely without having to take them out on anyone else. It's kind of like a written "rage room", the verbal equivalent of bashing a cushion.
Often you will find that once you've written something in your journal, the feelings within become less intense and easier for you to deal with.
3. Reducing Negative Thoughts
Similarly, journaling can help you to reduce negative thoughts. Instead of bottling things up and having them affect you, you can let them out by writing them in a form where nobody else has to see them. And that can help you too.
4. Creating Discipline
Journaling is also a good way to become disciplined about writing and to build a writing habit. Many famous writers write regularly in a journal just to get in that daily practice. We'll talk more about some ways of building that habit later in this article but remember: practice makes perfect.
5. Improving Writing Skills
Related to that, journaling can help you improve your writing skills just because you're doing it so regularly. If you're writing a journal entry daily, know that even a few minutes of daily practice can make a big difference to your skill and comfort with writing over time. This benefit can help you both personally and professionally, as improving writing skills will make the documents, proposals and presentations you create at work even more readable.
6. Assisting With Self-Discovery
Finally, when you write journal entries daily, that process can help with self-discovery. The more you write and express your feelings, the more you learn about what affects or triggers you and the better you come to know yourself.
7 Tips on How to Journal Daily
Ready to learn more about how to start a journal and build a daily writing habit? Here are some tips to help you.
1. Decide on Your Journal Format
As you consider how to journal daily, a key consideration is what format your journal will be in. Of course, writing on paper is the classic approach. You'll have to decide on whether you want to use loose sheets, a diary, special notebook or another approach. Some options to consider include:
- Using a digital document by using a word processing program or app, such as Google Docs or Microsoft Word, on your computer, tablet or phone.
- Writing journal entries in an app specifically made for journaling such as the Five Minute Journal app, or some of the other apps in this list. You can choose apps meant for people who don't consider themselves writers, apps meant to help you build a journaling habit slowly, or many others.
- Use a Bullet Journal. Designer Ryder Carroll devised this as a personal organization tool, which combines many aspects of writing such as reminders, to-do lists, appointments, and idea generation. But many people also use their bullet journals for journaling. See more ways to use your Bullet Journal in this list of bullet journaling ideas.
2. Choose Your Journal Topic
Once you've decided that you want to build a journaling habit, then you need to decide what kind of journal you're going to write. Here again, there are lots of options when it comes to deciding on your approach and topic. Here are some approaches to consider.
Morning Pages is a way to cultivate creativity, which helps both in business and your personal life. This idea comes from a book titled The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. It was designed to help artists get past creative blockages. But many other creatives such as writers, have also used the technique.
The point is to use your notebook or journal, get a pen and do three pages of writing. Write whatever comes into your head in a stream-of-consciousness approach. The idea is to build the discipline of writing that amount every day, whatever happens in your life. Here's an article from Little Coffee Fox on how Morning Pages helped her.
But of course, that's not the only option that you can take. You could choose to:
- Chronicle what's going on in your life like a diary and just write down what's happening from day to day and what your reaction to it was.
- Start your journal based on a writing prompt or a quote that gives you food for thought. Again, there are lots of places that you can find these online to help you start building that writing habit.
- Keep a gratitude journal, saying what you're grateful for and counting your blessings each day. Many people find that this sets them up for a more positive approach to their life as a whole.
- Plan ahead for the weeks and months ahead, setting intentions for what you'd like to achieve. This approach works well with the gratitude approach above.
And, of course, you don't have to choose. You can take whichever approach seems right to you on a given day.
3. Find the Right Place to Write
In my experience, having the right setting is also very important for journaling. This may vary depending on whether you find background noise empowering or enervating.
Many people love busy environments with background noise or being able to listen to music or have the TV on in the background. Others prefer quieter locations where they can more easily tune into their thoughts and write them down. And still others prefer to be completely alone and in silence.
You'll have to decide what works best for you, and then try your hardest to ensure you've got access to the kind of location that'll make the journaling process easier.
4. Commit to Writing a Journal Entry Daily
Once you've chosen your journal topic, and have found the perfect place to write, the next step is to make a commitment. Ask any professional writer about how to write or journal daily, and they'll likely talk about building a writing habit. You can do this by:
- Deciding on the time of day you want to write and setting a reminder or alarm to make sure you don't miss it.
- Start small if necessary, with as little as five minutes a day while you build the writing habit.
- Commit to writing something during that time.
5. Don’t Stress if You Miss a Day
Even though you want to build a journaling habit, don't get stressed out if you happen to miss a day of journaling. Life does tend to intervene and sometimes it's not possible to stick to your regular schedule.
The important thing is to not use missing one day as an excuse to give up altogether. Instead, make a promise to yourself that you'll start again the next day, and continue trying to write journal entries daily.
6. Always Have Your Journal Handy
One of the most important things that you can do to build your journaling habit is to have your journal with you all the time. That means you've got the opportunity to write even if you're not in your usual location, or it's not the usual time slot.
For example, if you're catching a train or plane, slip your paper diary into your travel bag. And if you're using a digital option, make sure you can easily access it offline.
7. Keep Going
Finally, most importantly, keep going. If you want to build a habit, you're going to have to commit to doing it as close to daily as possible. As we've said, missing one day is neither here nor there. But returning to it'll help you build the habit. In the end you might find that it feels wrong to start your day or end your day without writing something in your journal. That's one way that you'll know that you've successfully built a journaling habit.
Get the Right Template For Your Digital Journal
If you're interested in having a journal that's got a certain look or design, you can consider using a journal template from Envato Elements. Whether you're looking for PowerPoint graphic templates or Microsoft Word and Google Docs templates, you're sure to find plenty of choice.
And Envato Elements has a great offer you won't want to miss: download as many PowerPoint templates or other types of templates as you want for one low price. Or, if you need a PowerPoint template or other template for one-off use, you can check out the wide selection of graphic templates available on GraphicRiver.
Start Journaling Daily Today!
In this guide, you've learned more about how to start a journaling habit and maintain the practice of writing journal entries daily. We've covered the different types of journals you can use, the personal and professional benefits you can get from journaling and some of the approaches to journaling that you can use.
Now it's over to you to start writing and build that habit today.