How to Journal: Developing a Routine

journal and pen

So by now you have experimented with various notebooks and pens and found some that feel right. You have investigated some journaling options and played around with journaling styles. Now all you need is some consistent journaling time in your already over-scheduled life.

Once again, experimentation is key.

There are several factors to consider:

  • Time
  • Location
  • Atmosphere
  • Security

Time of Day: There is no right or wrong time of day to journal. Some prefer to write the moment they wake up. They dump all discursive thoughts on the page and free up the mind for creativity.

Others prefer to include journaling as part of their bedtime routine. It is a time to reflect on today and anticipate tomorrow.

Still others fit in journaling whenever they find a few free minutes: lunch hour, waiting for doctor’s appointments, at kids’ practices, etc.

If you like routine, then select one time of the day and try journaling only during that time.  If journaling once a week on a specific day is more your speed, make an appointment with yourself every week for this expressed purpose.

Others feel confined by the mere mention of the word schedule. If this is you, then don’t set yourself up for failure. Make sure your supplies are easily accessible so when you have few free moments, you can sit down and write.

How often should you journal? Again, there are no rules.

Some believe there is an unwritten commandment stating you should journal every day. I think this is a carry-over from those locked diaries we received in elementary school. The pre-dated pages seemed to shout to the world when we missed a day. Do not put this kind of pressure on yourself.

As with any new skill, the more you practice, the more comfortable you become. So perhaps strive for at least once a week. If you want to do more, go for it. If that seems too much, cut back. Find a rhythm that works for your life.

Where to Journal: again, I’m going to ask you to experiment (do you notice a pattern?)

Some prefer to journal at home – in one specific spot. Perhaps at the dining room table, or a desk in the study, or sitting up in bed. I must admit that for this homebody, I rather enjoy journaling in my PJs, next to the fire, staring out the window.

Others prefer to be more social. Writing is a solitary act, so they need to be around people. They may treat themselves to a beverage at a favorite coffee shop and journal while observing the clientele.

Still others prefer the outdoors. It might be a little difficult during the winter (unless you are fortunate enough to live in a more temperate climate), but for three out of four seasons, the outdoors provides a wonderful escape from the ordinary, while allowing you to connect with nature and yourself.

Atmosphere: Journaling is supposed to be an activity you look forward to. It is supposed to rejuvenate you, not become one more chore on the list.

To help make this special, consider what other elements you can add to make this a sacred space.

Some possible suggestions might include:

  • Light a scented candle
  • Play soft music in the background (I prefer instrumental – otherwise I find myself focusing on the lyrics rather than my writing)
  • Pour a hot beverage to sip – nibble on a special treat while writing
  • Pray before writing – asking for peace-of-mind and direction
  • Take a walk before writing – to clear the mind and relax the body

Security: I have touched on this subject before, but it bears repeating.

The full benefits of journaling occur when you can be honest and authentic. If you do not feel our words are written in a safe place, you will hold back.

Be sure the time and space you choose to write are free from distractions. You want to let go and relax while writing. And ensure the words you write will only be seen by those who have your prior approval.

Give Yourself Grace: I simply can’t emphasize this enough.

Writing is often associated with a former high school English teacher, red pen in hand, marking all infractions of grammar rules. Many of us fear writing because we never thought we measured up. And many of us fear journaling because we think there is a one right way to follow. Both of these are faulty logic.

If you want to try journaling – try it. Develop your own style. Create your own schedule. Find the joy in writing. It’s there… I promise.


3 thoughts on “How to Journal: Developing a Routine

  1. Wonderful insights as always, Molly. I like the scented candle and instrumental music (Unless I’m feeling humorous–then the lyrics help. Huh? Bet that comment will only make sense to a few people.).


  2. Pingback: How to Journal: Introduction | Revising Life after 50

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