(And Does this Matter?)
How do you get into the habit of writing in your journal consistently? It’s a question that most journal writers face at some point. And really does it matter that you write regularly? Whether you write often depends on your purpose for writing. Is it to preserve memories? To sort out issues? To track physical or emotional, spiritual, or intellectual progress? Track health symptoms?
If journal writing is pleasurable, then writing is its own reward. If journal writing becomes a task you “should” do, rather than something that is internally compelling, then you are more likely to write less consistently. So part of the issue can be reframed to ask, ”How do I make journal writing pleasurable?”
Here are a few thoughts about ways to keep writing consistently:
- Make your journal writing more upbeat. Review the good things that have happened in your day—your attitude, your progress toward a goal, a minor victory, even a two-minute interaction with someone that went well. Remind yourself about the good stuff in your life and your good qualities.
- When you do have difficult issues in your life that need to be resolved—and who doesn’t?—consider the time that you write in your journal as an oasis of self-nurturing in your day. It’s a time to vent, rant, reflect, and process just for you.
- Write at the same time every day, if possible, thus incorporating your writing practice into a daily routine.
- Make sure your LifeJournall is password-protected so you’ll have no worries that someone will read it which can cause you to feel constricted and self-censoring while writing.
- If you don’t have much time, write a quick and easy entry by going to the Daily Pulse and entering Pulse values for the day. It’s a quick and simple way to enter the LifeJournal program, and then, who knows, you might find that after writing a couple of sentences in the Pulse Notes, you are inspired to open a journal entry and write more.
- Think of writing a journal entry as the least expensive form of health insurance ever. Remember that writing about meaningful events or activities in your life improves your health without major cost of time or money and without having to leave your home!
- Think about what’s stopping you from writing and write about that—or if that’s too painful to write about, then write about something else. There’s the direct and the indirect way to go about journal writing—start writing about what’s bugging you, or approach your writing with something that is emotionally neutral and see if you are ready to start nibbling away at the edges of the meaty issue that you are avoiding.
- Write a one-word journal entry that captures your day. It’s a challenge to come up with that one word and you can think about it while you are doing some mindless life maintenance activity—like flossing your teeth or taking out the garbage or folding the clothes. Once you have determined that word, writing it in your journal entry takes almost no time.
- Turn your inner critics off by addressing them right away when you start writing if they start to interfere: “OK, you noisy critics, you are on notice to be quiet for the next 20 minutes while I’m writing. I’m in charge for the next 20 minutes—no back talk from you.” The inner critics may grumble and mutter for a bit, but then you can quickly start writing, and keep tell any negative voices to simply quiet down.
Back to the question does it really does it matter that you write consistently? It only matters that you write consistently so (1) you don’t stop keeping a journal, and so (2) when you re-read your journal, there are enough entries to retain the continuity of the story line of your life.
Your capacity to write consistently in your journal will be determined by your feeling of satisfaction and by doing what’s right for you. While you are writing and when you finish, notice how you feel. Did you like the process? Did you feel relaxed and soothed during or after writing? Did you feel at times frustrated, angry, confused, despairing? This whole spectrum of emotions is simply part of the process of journal writing. I know that for me I do feel better most of the time after I write, like I’ve jettisoned some burden and/or relived a pleasurable part of my day.