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How to keep a journal, even if you’re terrible at it

You too can learn how to keep a journal. Yes, even if you’re terrible at it. I’ve been there, but have recently learned some clever tips and tricks to step up my life tracking game.

However, recently I’ve naturally fallen into my own rhythm of journaling. So I’ve jotted down some thoughts that might help you improve.

What do you want to gain from journaling?

Ever since I was a little girl I’ve wanted to keep a journal. When I was 10 it was some sweet romantic idea of journalling that I imagined being read aloud one day by my adoring fans. When I was 19 it was so that I could feel organised at a time when things are about as chaotic as they can be. When I was 25 it was because I finally realised how good it would be for my mental wellbeing. But could I do it? Not a chance.

Cut to today, and I think I’ve managed to get the hang of it. The trick that did it for me was to decide for myself what it was going to be. I’d become so overwhelmed with what I thought it was supposed to be, what others had decided it meant to them, and what it traditionally was known to be, that I wasn’t paying attention to what I needed.

For me, I needed a place to record my thoughts and feelings. Sometimes they relate to the day’s events, but mostly they transcend what happened on a day. My place to dream and let my mind wander. And wonder.

How do you think?

Some people think in words, others in doodles. Perhaps your words are in point form, or maybe you’re a mind mapping kinda gal. Your journal needs to serve you, so don’t feel the need to write a novel. Let your thoughts pour out in whatever way they choose.

When the time is right

I’ve gone weeks without journalling. I’ve also journaled several times in one day. If you’re not focusing on daily events, then it really doesn’t matter how often you journal. As the thoughts come, so you write them down.

What about daily events?

For some people, keeping track of daily events is part of the appeal with journaling. It feels good to look back at the year, or previous years, and reminisce. I’m one of those people. This might be all that you require from journaling – also fine.

The logbook system that Austin Kleon has made famous has proved the perfect solution for me. You can read the details on his blog, but essentially, you keep a small page-a-day diary on hand and record your daily activities in bullet point form, the day afterward. This is where your record your who, what, where of your days – who you saw, where you went, what you ate – anything you deem noteworthy.

You might like to use a journal and a logbook, or perhaps just one of them, depending on your needs. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you’re doing this for you. No one else. So do what best serves your needs.

Do you keep a journal?

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