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I’ve kept a journal since I was six years old, and in that time I’ve encountered a lot of surprised comments, random thoughts concerning journaling, and a fair share of myths. For some reason, the practice of journaling is shrouded in sort of a mysterious cloak—as if only writers and poets and teenage girls could possibly keep one, but today I’d love to share with you that is just not true. I don’t consider myself a “writer” in terms of writing fiction or biographical feats, and my teenage years are, ahem, many years in the past. Yet I write regularly in my journal. So, what’s my secret?
Well, first, let’s dispel some journaling myths. By sharing these, I want to show you that journaling really is for everyone—the 6 year old writing about how much she loves Hello Kitty all the way to the little old lady writing about what she plans to plant in her garden this spring.
Journaling Myths: Two Big Ones and Why They Are Not True
Myth No. One: “Journaling” means writing in a little book every single day for the rest of your life.
I’ve heard this misconception over and over and have to admit I used to believe it myself. Since I was first introduced to journaling with a small diary that had dated pages, I felt bad when I didn’t write for days (and sometimes, weeks). In fact, many of those early entries were simply apologies for not writing more.
It wasn’t until I realized that journaling is for me that I began to loosen up my rules about needing to write every day. Unless you’re in a class where you’re required to journal on a daily basis, there is absolutely no reason why you should feel the pressure to write every single day, especially if you’re writing things like, “I’m not really sure what to write today but I’m supposed to write something so . . . ”
Write every day if you want to or once a week or once a month. Journaling is a place for you to find your voice and to share your heart. Which brings me to Myth No. Two.
Myth No. Two: A journal is a place to record everything that happened that day.
Okay, you could in fact write a detailed account of your life if that is something that interests you. But you don’t have to.
This is a myth that is perpetuated by all the published journals we have from people around the world—people who wrote detailed and even riveting accounts of their lives at the time. I’ve read some of these and think they’re interesting, but unless you’re planning on publishing your journals down the road, there’s no reason why you need to follow this method.
I’ve talked to many women who have confided that they would like to keep a journal but it seemed like a lot of work (i.e., having to write every day) and they didn’t feel they had a lot to write about because their life was pretty mundane (i.e., who wants to write about doing two loads of laundry and picking the kids up from school?) To them and to you (if you’re wondering), I have to say once again that a journal is for YOU.
Need some ideas of what to write? Here you go:
~ Record goals
~ Make a map of dreams or things you’d like to do someday
~ Draw or list the best things that happened to you that day (*I love this idea from Steal Like an Artist)
~ Paint funny paintings
~ List things to do
~ Write about things that make you happy or grateful
~ Write out creative business ideas
~ Keep a record of gifts to make and/or buy
~ Draw pictures of your cat
~ Write about what you’re learning right now
~ Write your thoughts about a Bible or book passage you just read
~ On that note, journal your prayers
~ Write a bucket list for this year
~ Cut out words from magazines that are meaningful to you, and glue them in your journal
~ Write about a favorite memory
~ P.S. Click here for a few great resources on art journaling!
Seriously, record your LIFE. What you put in your journal is completely up to you, and the beautiful thing is by doing so, you’ll be creating a completely unique record of your life. I also feel that once we’ve tossed the ideas of having to write every day about every little thing, our hearts become more open to writing regularly. It becomes something we look forward to and enjoy. In fact, I consider the time I sip tea and write as a mini creative retreat in itself. :)