Perhaps you’ve heard about the many benefits of journaling—from creative expression to health and wellness to finding creative solutions to life’s challenges and much more. But do you wonder how to start journaling? Or how to return to journaling? Or how to enrich your journaling practice?
How to Start Journaling
Many people aren’t quite sure how to tap into the power of journaling. For some, staring at a blank page or screen causes its own resistance. For others, they may write lots of material but it keeps their brain circling the same problems without moving the needle forward—no transformation.
I journaled a lot in college and found that my journaling about break-ups for instance just fueled the fire of my compulsive thoughts of the lost love. I eventually rewired my brain but still didn’t understand the process. It wasn’t until I worked with therapist Dr. Elizabeth Michas on her book proposal that I learned more of how the brain works—and why that kind of journaling is rarely productive.
And that’s why it can be helfpul to explore how to start journaling in order to avoid the circuitous and unhelpful ramblings that don’t resolve your problems.
When we journal, we want to journey beyond the recurring thoughts and beliefs. We want to cover new terrain, to wake up to new ways of seeing life and get beyond the break up or the health problem or the pain. And journaling can take us there, but it’s often a circuitous route.
Creative Brainstorming as a Way to Turn off the Old Circuits
When I served as the Executive Director of the nonprofit Hospitality Homes, a generous and extremely cool creativity consultancy in Cambridge MA took us on as a pro bono client to help us brainstorm a name that captured the organization better than “The Hospitality Program,” an organization which matched volunteer hosts with families traveling to Boston for a family member’s medical treatment.
One thing I learned from those creativity experts is that it helps to get outside the problem and think about something entirely different before coming back to the problem. That’s why I love journaling prompts and writing prompts. They take you out of whatever linear path you might be on and place you in a new question, a new dimension, a new landscape.
And in that new place, as you write, new ideas and thoughts can come. They may solve the current challenge (a break up, a health crisis, career burnout, a personality challenge or relationship issue).
Or these new ideas may just get you in touch with your creativity in new ways and help you produce new work. A line in your journal may become a poem or a book idea. Journaling about a childhood friend may provide new insights into a character in your novel. You just don’t know where journaling will take you, but I can promise you the journey will be rich.
And that’s why I think it’s important to answer the question of “how to start journaling?” so that you don’t just end up in a stuck place with your journal, but your journal opens new windows upon the world, new perceptions and opportunities.
A New Prompts Journal and a Writing Adventure
My free ebook 12 Ways Journaling Can Spark Your Creativity, Support Your Writing and Transform Your Life shares the potent benefits of journaling and 7+ different kinds of journal or ways to journal. So, if you want to explore journaling, you can download it here.
For the purposes of this post, let’s focus on the prompts journal, which, as I mentioned earlier, gives your a starting place, a structure, and helps you get out of any recursive thinking and into a space where creative inspiration flows easily. I encourage you to use my new book, The Joy of Writing Journal: Spark Your Creativity in 8 Minutes a Day, a journal that combines the power of the prompts journal with the latest technology to create an enriched and engaging experience.
Support to Start Journaling—or to Enrich Your Process
Here’s one thing to know: Some people can make a commitment to journal each morning and they’re good. Others need a bit more support—support either to stay the course and journal regularly or support to gain confidence to expand upon your writing or even to share it with others.
So, how do you get that support? One way is to join a group of people with a similar goal. That’s why, on October 1, I’m starting a one month journaling challenge. Come to the blog each day to join the conversation.
If you want to receive the daily emails in October to send you to the day’s post, just purchase the Joy of Writing Journal and share your email address and receipt number on this form.
If you haven’t journaled yet that day, consider the email an invitation to take 8 minutes and work through one of the prompts in The Joy of Writing Journal.
On my blog (a link will be provided in each email to the daily post), you’ll find an excerpt from my journal based on that day’s prompt or my reaction to the prompt – did I struggle with it? Did it bring me new insights? Did it help me solve a problem I hadn’t even realized I had?!
I also invite you to share your comments on each post— use the blog for your own accountability and creative support. Share an excerpt from your journal—gain confidence in sharing your work as well as encouragement from your fellow creative journalers. Or just share something about your experience. We’ll help you through as a community so you can access your creative muse and soar to new heights of inspiration in your writing practice. And you can cheer on your fellow journal writers.
Each day/prompt in The Joy of Writing Journal includes a QR code (readable by cell phone camera) to link you to a short video (or occasionally an audio meditation) to offer inspiration and a sense of community. You’ll hear other writers sharing their reaction to the prompt, or me teaching a little snippet about bringing your writing to life with detail or sharing a creativity tip. In two audio meditations, I’ll take you on a guided journey to your creative inner garden, or your muse in order to tap into your inner wisdom for expanded access to your creativity.
Here’s a sample video:
And, to add to the playfulness and fun of the experience, you can win all kinds of fun writing prizes by participating in the blog/journal extravaganza. So, sign up here to be part of this daily October Journaling Adventure.
Note: In the posts, we’ll be reflecting and sharing. I will occasionally include a daily prompt or a video, but not usually. You’ll want to order the book to get the full experience! Trust me on this (and it’s under $10 right now!). Order your copy of the book here.
I look forward to journaling with you in October!