If you’ve been at journaling for quite some time now, good for you! A start is better than no start at all. But if you’re done taking all the baby steps, it may be time for you to ramp up your practice of journaling. Journaling is a tool for self-expression. Getting better at it would mean getting better at expressing yourself, not just on paper but also in other walks of life, such as in your relationships with other people. So let’s take a look at some effective tips that can help you get better at this wonderful lifelong habit:
- No Pressures, No Judgments
- Practice Shorthand Style of Writing
- Set the Mood Right Before Writing
- Challenge Yourself Every Now and Then
- Try Out Different Styles of Journaling
Hesitating while journaling is a sin, and yet we do it time and again. This often happens when we’re dealing with a surge of negative emotions. The angry, jealous, frustrated, or upset voice in your head may want you to write down things that seem just too awful to document. You might feel like holding back on these thoughts.
But journaling isn’t about selective writing. Don’t judge yourself for writing down the nastiest of your thoughts and feelings. The pressure of being prim and proper in your journal can stifle your journaling experience. Let go of these trivial self-imposed pressures and judgments. Your mind would feel a lot lighter, calm, and composed when all is poured out on paper and you’ll feel ready to move on from those feelings.
At the end of a long hard day, sitting down to write may seem like just another exhausting task. Especially, if you strictly use full sentences to explain everything. But you don’t have to be this rigid when writing in your journal. There is no one right format to follow when journaling, so you can be as creative as you like. Create abbreviations that you know you can understand on revisiting the page at a later time. Draw emoticons to express your current mood. Don’t be a grammar Nazi, see if you can wrap up a big sentence in just a couple of words.
Stop treating journaling like just another item on your to-do list for the day. Think of it as an indulgent experience that you look forward to. You can plan out a specific ritual to follow before you sit down for journaling, the aim of the ritual should be to calm down your senses.
Find a nice quiet corner where there are no distractions. Then devote few moments to just come in the moment. Play soft instrumental music if that relaxes you. Practice some meditation, yoga stretches, or deep breathing exercises. Light up some scented candles. Just do whatever that helps you feel collected. And when you finally do, get your pen and journal out and begin writing away!
Don’t think of journaling as only a means to coddle yourself. Yes, we do journal to ease our worries, but there are more uses than one of journaling. For instance, you can use it to face the challenging questions and situations of your life. At most times, we distract ourselves from things that discomfit us. These could be a difficult situation that you anticipate in future, a question that you dread finding out the answer to, and so on. It’s natural to feel like avoiding these situations altogether. But anytime you feel like you need to confront them, journaling would be a safe place to do that.
There are many writing techniques that you can try out with journaling. This whole experimenting process will make journaling so much more interesting. For example, one of your journal entries could be about writing an unsent letter to someone. Anything you’ve ever wanted to say to this person, you can write down in this letter. Since you won’t actually be sharing this letter with anyone, you can be as open as you want to be.
Another journaling technique that you can try out is making lists. Take any number, say 50. Now come up with different listing topics with this number. You can write about, 50 Things I care about the most, 50 Goals I want to achieve, 50 Destinations on my bucket list, 50 Things I’m grateful for, and so on.
The AOYL Program takes you on a wholesome journaling experience. There’s always something new to learn, regardless of whether the participant is a beginner or more experienced. The writing exercises in the program are a collection of different ideas and techniques. Working together in tandem, these exercises make you a better writer of your life story in your journals.
This article was in part inspired by the following article by Ryan Holiday: