Hopefully in this post I will be able to give you some inspiration and 4 of my top tips for starting – and crucially keeping – a journal or diary!
As someone who has kept countless variations of diaries and journals since a very young age, each growing and developing on the last, I consider myself somewhat of a pro. I remember vividly one of my first diaries I had was a hot pink, fluffy notebook with a white Persian cat on the front adorned with a crystal embellished tiara, beneath which was a tasteful “Paws Off”, a sentiment which I mimicked multiple times on the pink pages inside (specifically ‘boys keep out’ if I remember rightly). From those back-to-front y’s, lettering that took up either 10 lines or half a line with no in-between, and a complete neglect of any punctuation (because I hadn’t learnt it in school yet), my diaries could only improve. The only way was up, let’s be honest.
For a longtime, I stuck to a purely written format, perhaps with a few sporadic doodles or sketches to accompany my narratives, but largely just handwriting on lined pages. Admittedly, if diary-upkeep were a subject in school, my attendance would have been classed as poor at best, leading to lots of half-finished journals, neglected and eventually abandoned for a new shiny one, who would soon meet the same fate. That was until about a year ago when I mixed it up a bit.
A sucker for Pinterest, I got inspired by the trendy ‘junk journal’ hype. Sadly, my tightly-wound personality couldn’t fully hop on board the unstructured chaos that came with it. So I took the theme and toned it down to my taste. Now I’ve kept many journals like this, and I love them! They are like my babies (as sad as that sounds)…
Here are 4 of my key tips for keeping your own journal babies…
1. Consistency isn’t key!
Yes, the rumours are true. Despite the overuse of this common little rule, consistency – in fact – isn’t key. Particularly when it comes to journals and diaries. The key instead is to assess your own honest capabilities. Are you really able to sit down every single day to write? If the answer is yes, then go for it. When I had graduated uni and was looking for a job, I wrote an entry everyday without issue; it was completely feasible. Once I started work, that was no longer realistic, and I just had to accept that.
Truthfully, life is difficult. That’s just how it is. If you have work, school, or other commitments, it’s hard to compel yourself to write every single day. On top of that, not every day is going to be worth writing about. Some days you just want to forget about. What you don’t want to do is make a de-stressing and grounding activity into some chore that you come to loathe. Set yourself some realistic expectations – like not ever leaving it for more than a week – and come to terms with the fact, sometimes, you might not even meet these.
Just don’t be so hard on yourself!
2. Treat your journal like a person
Without sounding crazy, this is one of favourite things to do. I love pretending my journal needs to hear about my day, is excited to find out how something transpired, or is missing me if it’s been a couple of days. Having that consistent, non-judgemental friend in your life is something that is really quite comforting. It’s something I’ve found particularly soothing if I’m anxious about something – like job interviews, bad clients, awkward social events… I can just write down my woes, and know that – tomorrow evening – I’ll be writing it all down in here again and have all the answers.
In a couple of day’s time, I’ll read it back and think “wow, I’m so glad that’s over”, but in a couple month’s time I’ll read it back and think “wow, I can’t believe I spent that much energy worrying about that, I barely remember it”.
Journals are so effective in letting you see the bigger picture and bringing you back to what matters.
Relating to the previous tip, treating your journal like a person helps to alleviate the pressure to write every single day. Lots of people are forced to miss a couple of days, then give up as a result, letting their diary gather dust. If you envision the pages as a friend, you can just simply explain your absence, filling them in on all they’ve missed – just like you would do if you were catching up with an old friend over coffee. It’s a judgement free space.
3. Get inspired
Possibly the best purchase in my life (dramatic, I know)… the HP Sprocket. Having the ability to print out little sticky-back photos from your day to accompany your journal entry really makes the experience that much more enjoyable and satisfying. It also makes the pages look much more visually pleasing, and adds to the element of pride when it comes to your journals…
Whereas with written journals, I could flick back through the sea of ink and feel a definite degree of satisfaction, it’s a whole new hemisphere when you can look back and see all of your colourful and wonderful memories on the pages. And if you think your life is too dull to ever warrant pictures, some of my most favourite photos to reminisce are the simplest – the small every day things are what makes up your life. If I’ve done something exciting – sure, that’s great, but most of the time, it’s as simple as pictures of my breakfast showing how I started the morning. Before I moved out, my pictures were mostly of my Dad and I lazing around, having coffee in the garden, watching Midsomer Murders in the evening. I look back on those and smile so much just now, let alone in years to come when yet more aspects of my life have changed.
Washi tape. Need I say anymore. I can never get enough of the stuff. I have washi tape for Halloween, birthday occasions, Christmas, Easter, colour themed, season themed. I love washi tape. It’s easy and it brings so much more to journalling. Washi tape, decorative stickers, and general journal ephemera will definitely inspire you to keep it up!
The art of journalling is already an act of self-reflection, but aside from reflecting at the time of writing, actually reading back your journals occasionally is a really valuable exercise for personal development. As I said before, it puts everything into perspective, and gives you all the reasons to be grateful right into your hands. Journals are typically filled with the best memories, raw emotions, and everyday dull bliss. Whatever the words say, I guarantee one day, when everything is different, you’ll cherish each and every page.