Most of us understand the benefits of journaling. Journaling is a powerful tool for self-reflection, personal growth, and understanding. Within its safe and private confines, you can delve into your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. And by dedicating a few minutes each day to journaling, you open the door to clarifying your goals, fostering self-awareness, and gaining valuable insights about yourself. But while all that sounds wonderful, many of us simply don’t know how to start journaling… when the blank page seems daunting, leaving you uncertain about what to write. To maximize your journaling practice, here are a few valuable tips to get you started on your journaling journey.
What to do when you don't know what to write about
Journaling is a personal and flexible practice that should never feel like a burden. If you don’t know what to write about, simply start somewhere, and let your thoughts guide you. The key is to remain open and receptive to the journey of self-discovery that journaling offers. Over time, you’ll find that even the moments of uncertainty can lead to valuable insights and growth.
Starting with Stream of Consciousness
Begin your journaling session without a specific topic in mind. Allow your thoughts to flow freely onto the paper, even if they seem disjointed or random. This practice, often referred to as “morning pages” or “stream-of-consciousness writing,” can lead to surprising discoveries and insights about yourself. Embrace the spontaneity and authenticity of this approach because it provides a window into your subconscious mind.
Explore Your Emotions
When you feel unsure about a particular subject, write about your current emotional state. Describe how you’re feeling and try to untangle the underlying reasons behind those emotions. Acknowledging and understanding your feelings can lead to greater self-awareness and emotional clarity.
Recount Your Day
Take a moment to think about what happened during your day, both big and small moments. Reflect on interesting interactions or things that caught your attention. This can help you make sense of your experiences and find patterns in your daily life.
Describe Your Surroundings
Look around where you are and write down what you see. This simple practice can bring up memories or thoughts you might not have noticed before. It helps you connect your external world to how you feel inside.
Journal Your Dreams
If you remember any dreams from last night or have dreams that keep coming back, write about them in your journal. Try to understand what they might mean or how they make you feel.
Create lists of things you like, things you want to learn, places you want to visit, or even just daily to-do lists. Lists can inspire deeper thinking and help you set goals.
Write a letter to yourself, someone you know, or even someone you imagine. This exercise can give you insights into your feelings and desires. It’s a way to be kind to yourself and express your thoughts.
Ask Yourself Questions
Don’t be afraid to ask yourself questions, even if you don’t have all the answers. Use these questions to explore your thoughts and beliefs more deeply.
If you’re feeling stuck or frustrated, write about it in your journal. Venting can be a release and might help you think more clearly.
Practice Gratitude Journaling
On tough days, take a moment to think about things you’re grateful for. Focusing on gratitude can shift your perspective and bring positive thoughts.
Describe Goals and Aspirations
Write about your short-term and long-term goals and the steps you can take to achieve them. This can motivate you to pursue your dreams.
Share Thoughts on Books or Movies
If you recently read a book or watched a movie, write about what you thought of it. This can help you understand how you relate to stories and characters.
Reflect on Past Entries
Revisit older journal entries and expand on things that still resonate with you. This can help you see how you’ve grown and changed over time.
Use Creative Prompts
Try creative writing prompts, like imagining yourself in a different time or place. This can spark your imagination and lead to interesting reflections.
Explore Current Events
Write about a current event or social issue that interests you. Think about how it makes you feel and what impact it has on your life and the world.
Celebrate your recent accomplishments, big or small. Recognizing your growth can boost your confidence and motivation.
Write About Role Models
Think about people you look up to and write about their qualities that inspire you. Consider how these role models influence your own aspirations and development. When I do this, I often write letters to Florence Scovel Shinn and Oprah. These are two women I respect and I often wonder what their perspective on a matter would be.
Explore Your Passions
Journal about your hobbies and interests, and how they bring joy to your life. This can be a way to nurture and express your passions.
Draw or Doodle
If you have trouble expressing yourself in words, try drawing or doodling to represent your thoughts and feelings. Art can be a powerful tool for self-discovery.
Remember that it’s okay to not always have clear answers in your journaling. Give yourself the freedom to write about anything or simply let your thoughts flow. Discoveries take time—you need to put in the journaling time to eventually make the personal discoveries.