I think what makes a journal so precious is that no one sees it besides yourself. Sure, you can show it to others, but most of the time only you see it. You can write as trashy or as beautifully as you like, as badly or as neatly as you want, and doodle as horridly or artistically as you feel like – no one cares. This kind of liberation encourages me to find the purpose of writing when absolutely no one knows that I’m doing it. No one cares, but me.
The hard thing for many of us is being consistent with this task. I have had myriads of journals ever since i was young, from store-bought pretty diaries to online secret blogs, and for many years I failed to keep it up. Last year, however, I decided to pick it up again, and I haven’t stopped ever since. I journal at least 5 days a week (unless I’m traveling), and… it’s part of my life now.
After exploring different kinds of journaling, I have stuck with 2 ‘types’ so far:
- 5 minute journaling: I spend about 1-2 minutes each morning to do this, and I’ve freed myself from doing it at night as I find it redundant.
- morning pages: I basically write whatever comes to my mind on my Hobonichi Cousin daily spread. I don’t write 3 pages – just enough to get my thoughts flowing.
As you can see, I’ve taken 2 popular types of journaling and tweaked them to my best interest, enabling me to journal because I want to, and not for the sake of it. Here’s what I’ve learned so far from journaling:
1. On lasting habits and self-discipline.
Making journaling become part of my morning routine has forced me to look at it as part of my everyday life. I’ve reached the point in which, even if I stop journaling for a few weeks due to external factors, I can get right back to it in no time. I feel that establishing a habit goes hand-in-hand with self-discipline, as it’s something that only you can reinforce. The benefits of journaling can only be felt after a period of time – just like many other habits – and if you can muster the energy to do it every morning knowing why you do it, I believe that you have learned to form a habit through self-discipline.
2. On mindfulness and emotional support.
There’s a certain sense of… freedom when you write without a structure. When you just let your thoughts materialize in paper. It has helped me solidify my troubling thoughts, and spark ideas that may have been buried inside me. As an introvert, I often ponder about things on my own, and having an outlet in which no one can judge me for it is very refreshing.
Additionally, by writing about stressful events, issues or problems that I have, I give myself the opportunity to step away from the event and reflect upon it more externally. The relief of passing my burden to writing, and reflecting upon it more calmly is a emotional support (for me, at least) in itself.
3. On your handwriting.
Journaling has also made me more conscious of how I present my writing. I’ve started to pay more attention to the type of pens that suit me best (gel pens, with tips no more than 0.4mm). Mainly, though, it allows me to practice my handwriting daily. Print or cursive. Calligraphy. Decorating writing. Any kind that I want. And though this is a more superficial point, it’s a small detail that adds to the perks of journaling.
4. On creativity.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned since last year, i that creativity harness growth and development. I hate doing things the mundane and rigid ways. I love routines, but I love making them my own. I love creating, tweaking and thinking about different ways to do things, because only then can I do them on my own volition.
It’s very important to do things, including journaling, because you genuinely want to do it. Not for any external factor other than the one that exists within you. I believe this is key to sustain any habit or activity that you wish to do in the long term, as only then can you pull through even if obstacles stand in your way. Only then can you use your creativity to make this activity yours, and yours only.