10 Things to Journal About
“Look, I don’t journal…OK!?!” In the past, I found myself occasionally needing to blurt out this phrase. We all have friends who are passionate about journaling; and when the topic arises, a huge guilt complex accompanies it. I knew it would be good for me. I knew it had done wonderful things for my friends, but I was just not the disciplined type to journal everyday. So there!
But in reality, I didn’t “get” journaling. I didn’t really understand what it could do for me. To be honest, I didn’t even know where to start with that blank page staring back at me. My idea of journaling was just introspective navel gazing. I had plenty of other things to do.
However, a few years ago, I participated in a small Artist’s Way group where I was encouraged to journal daily. I thought it would be the perfect time to prove to the world just how worthless this activity was, but… it backfired on me. I was infected. I got it. I started to appreciate journaling. What!?
The main thing that helped me was figuring out what to write about after logging the date at the top of the page. So let me share with you some of the journaling possibilities. I like to jump between these as needed, but my most worn out ideas are the first four in this list.
- Emotional Dump – This is the most primitive form of journaling and the place where I need to start most of the time. I give myself a page to get stuff off my chest.
- Have-to-dos – Often I take a half page to journal out what would basically be a “to-do” list or to think through any upcoming meetings, appointments, obligations and deadlines.
- Want-to-dos – It doesn’t happen every time, but if I make it to page 3 of my journal, after having waded through the more pressing needs of page 1 & 2, my soul seems to have a chance to see blue sky. I can actually begin to dream of taking flight with renewed enthusiasm and inspiration.
- Good Ideas – Often rather random and off-topic ideas come to my mind involuntarily while I am journaling, and they should. I don’t hesitate one bit writing a big heading like GREAT IDEA and then jot down the “invasive” thought so that I can find it again in a few days or a few years.
- Life Narration – Sometimes the best journaling is simply taking a pause from the busyness of life in order to narrate the present moment. Try to experience your life as if an author were writing about it. This helps us to fully experience the moment, and thereby to be grateful for the “now”. For example: “The color of the sky at this time of day is an interesting mix of… I can hear the far off sound of birds singing like… This temperature is especially invigorating…”
- Poetry – The more you write, the more you may feel the need to become more creative with your words and slip into a form that could resemble and be considered poetry. Not necessarily rhyme but rich metaphor and phrases that break free from traditional sentence structure. After all, poetry is the language of the soul. Allow yourself time to develop this skill. Let it flow naturally whenever it wants.
- Sketching/Doodling – In the same way, there are times when even poetic words don’t seem to be what you need. Drawing and doodling can often have a meditative effect on your soul. If you want to get inspired in this area, simply do an image search on “art journaling”
- Confession – Just like the hair that eventually clogs up the shower drain, occasionally we need to reach down inside and pull out life’s crud….Journaling is one of the best ways to get that stuff out. I like to think of my confession as a reminder of who I am right now, including both good and bad…a bit like a spiritual selfy.
- Prayers – Often during your journaling you may think of the needs of others. I stop wherever I am on the page and write out an intercession or blessing for that person. At other times, you may feel the desire to take the time to craft the most beautifully written prayer possible based on any number of circumstances, such as the seasons, birthdays, a life decision, or an upcoming event.
- Gratitude – I find an appropriate journal sign off is a simple list of 3-5 things that I’m grateful for.
May I also suggest investing in a nice notebook, special pens and even a little watercolor, so that these quality materials welcome you back and encourage you each time you pick them up.
So try your hand at journaling for just a week and see what you think, and if you already journal, try expanding on what you do on those blank pages.