Why you should start journaling. Today.
Once upon a time I loved to journal. Somewhere along the way I got a little lost, but now I’m rediscovering this long, lost love anew and I need to shout about it from the rooftops!
I used to journal because it was freeing to me. Something about getting all the stuff on the inside to the outside helped me to organize my brain and my heart. After getting it on paper, those thoughts no longer rolled around in my head this way and that way. Instead, I could then let some of the stressors of life go and had more room for other thoughts.
I also used to journal because I wanted to be able to look back on the journals and remember events. What was going on in life during my freshmen year of college? There are very few things that I can recall straight up, but after reading through some of my journal from that time, I suddenly am brought back to the event described.
Of course, it was not only for remembering events, but also remembering the lessons that God taught me. And seeing how God has transformed me. You know that odd feeling you get when you look at your child’s picture from a year before and think, “Wow! S/he was so little! I can’t believe how much s/he’s grown up!” Sometimes in my journals I feel the same way about myself. It’s hard to notice the incremental growth from day-to-day, but there have been some seasons I can look back on and say, “Wow, God, you have really helped me to grow in that area or characteristic.”
For the next few weeks, we’re going to be sharing some (hopefully) helpful ideas, resources, and stories about journaling. What we’ve found is that while journaling is highly personal and very unique to each person, it is really helpful to see and hear about others’ experiences while we’re working to find a way that “fits” us.
I really believe that journaling would revolutionize our busy, busy lives because it would force us to slow down, reflect, and turn off the constant input into our brains (from TV, internet, reading, other people). It would create space for us to relax, listen, and create. I think it would even make us better husbands and wives, moms and dads, sisters and brothers, and neighbors because I have found that when people slow down, we begin to pay more attention to others– real attention– and end up living kinder, gentler, more intentional lives.
To get started, I wanted to share some different ways to journal for adults (next week will be kids!):
1. Write freestyle. Write write write about whatever is racing through your brain. No filters.
2. Draw. Draw what you’re thinking about or how you’re feeling.
3. Collage. As you flip through magazines, articles, etc., cut out images, letters, or words that describe you. Take some time to put those cut-outs in your journal, and perhaps even write about why you choose which ones.
4. Get wacky. Thinkingcloset reviewed “Wreck This Journal“, which includes some pretty crazy and fun entries. Stomp on a page of the journal with your shoes one. Make some “art” on the page with your coffee. So strange, but kinda fun too!
5. Journal about Scripture. If you’re not too much into writing as a way of processing life, perhaps journaling about what you read in Scripture might be more your style! I found a fun example over at Sugardoodle.net**. In it, she suggests journaling favorite verses, making timelines, drawing pictures to represent the key points of various passages, doing thematic webs, taking sermon notes, etc.
6. Use prompts. There are tons and tons of prompts out there for you to use. Some journals have built in prompts, or just use a blank journal and choose your own prompts, depending on how you are feeling.
7. Be disciplined. Spend the first 15 minutes of your day journaling. Everyday. Or the last 15 minutes.
8. Pray. Use your journal space to write our prayers to God. It can be encouraging to look back and read how our prayers change and how they stay the same. Where has God shown Himself clearly to you? Where are things still murky?
9. Make lists. I love lists and end up having a lot of them in my journal. It helps me to un-overwhelm myself. There are also journals that are full of list ideas. My recent favorite to buy for loved ones for birthday gifts are Listography. There are all sorts of versions out there too- travel, food, wishes, music, parenthood, etc.
10. Journal to be better at your job. Journal after teaching in the classroom, doing science experiments, brainstorming for the next project, briefing after an event, or maybe your feelings after a performance evaluation. Journal your feelings, thoughts, ideas on a regular basis to help you improve in your professional life!
11. Journal about or to your children. We have a composition notebook for each of our children, and Jake and I take turns writing in them once per month. We fill the pages with fun memories, milestones, their “first words” (up until 18 months), events, achievements, and simply our feelings and thoughts about them. We write in them like we’re talking to them, and are excited to give this to them one day for them to be able to look back on and see what was going on with them at different parts of their lives as well as how very, very loved they are by us!
12. Give thanks. Spending a little time each day to write down a few things you are thankful for allows you to focus on the good instead of the bad. I have many friends who do this, and for several of them, it makes a huge impact on their outlook and attitude.
13. Reading Reflections. What books are you reading? What do you like? Not like? Quotes that inspired you and why?
14. Calendar Style. Tiny tiny journals– one sentence can fit on a box, so what will you choose?
**While we are not Mormon here at Play Eat Grow, we have good friends who are and we do acknowledge that we can learn a great deal from others who have gone before us in this journaling journey!