And because I am the stand-in for all humanity, allow me to tell you what is stopping you from being an effective journaler right now:
1) You’re too formal
I used to dress up to journal. Well, not literally, but figuratively. I would use only the nicest pens or I would have ornate and leatherbound Moleskines to write in, knowing that once I had acquired the accoutrements of the lofty trade of writing, I would be a real writer, and then I could journal. Or I would tell myself that I was going to journal every day, regardless of whether anything of note happened.
That never really worked out.
All of the fanciness of journaling took me way too far from the center of what journaling is: an exploration of self. And while self-exploration can be done with a frilly fountain pen, it can also be done with a $2 Bic and a composition notebook. In order to take the pressure off, the fancies had to go. I still write with special pens and have certain rules, though, because reason number 2 that you’re failing is…
2) You don’t have a system
I didn’t always write the date in the top right corner. I didn’t always flip my notebook upside down or mess around with wildly varying pen colors and textures. And I certainly didn’t always begin and end each post with “Dear Friend” and “Love Always, Tim” (picked that one up from The Perks of Being a Wallflower).
These were traits and quirks that I picked up along the way, and they help ground me in the task of journaling. It’s gonna be difficult for you to journal if everything is wildly different every time you write, so it’s good to have some ground markers for the activity.
Be sure to ease up on the markers from time to time, however, because the next reason you’re failing is…
3) You don’t experiment
I didn’t always journal using .07 G2 Pilot pens exclusively. I know that that’s the kind of pen and texture I like now because I experimented with the frilly hoo-hahs and whatzitnozzles and found those to be a good mix between fantastic and fantastically crappy. But it may be different or you. You’ll never know unless you experiment with different writing times, pens, journals, etc. Whatever it takes to get your true creative self onto the page.
And speaking of experimenting, don’t think I don’t know that…
4) You aren’t being honest
You know when you’re hedging your bets when it comes to writing. Many fear keeping a journal because they fear seeing themselves reflected in a book, but it is great for character development. There are two major reasons why everyone should keep it 100 with their journal entries.
- How can future you accurately know what you thought, felt, and did in the past if you don’t accurately record it the first time (and isn’t that kind of self-reflection the point of journaling, anyway?)
- If you’re a creative person, how do you ever expect to bring the pain when you write to others if you can’t be honest with yourself inside of a book that no one else reads?
You know you masturbated earlier, that’s a part of life. Write it in. Did your dad cheat on your mom? Write that in. Do you hate your parents? Write that in, too. Journaling is not only an act of self-exploration, it is an act of self-liberation. And if you can’t be honest with yourself and what you are (ALL of what you are), you’ll never be able to bring that to anyone else.
Tell me about your journaling experiences in the comments below, and feel free to comment, like, share, and follow!
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Credit: Joel Montes De Oca