Journaling is an amazing tool that can be your therapist through hard times, your best friend to celebrate the good ones, and your life coach when you’re stuck in the middle. But all too often I see people make some simple mistakes when they take up journaling.
Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those “you’re doing it all wrong!” posts. Quite the contrary. The key to journaling is finding out what works for you, so these common mistakes happen when people listen to others over what works for them.
Here are the five most common mistakes I see people make when they first start journaling:
Holding out for the perfect journal/notebook.
You are not Charlotte from Sex and the City looking for the perfect lifelong companion. Instead, think of yourself like Samantha, trying out whatever pleases you in the moment.
Your journal doesn’t even have to be a notebook. It can be voice memos on your phone, a legal pad kept by the side of your bed, Scrivener or a similar writing software, a sketchpad, post-its, a napkin, whatever you want to use.
It doesn't matter what you write, when you write, or where you write. What matters is that you write. Click To Tweet
Putting pressure on yourself to write every day.
Yes, it would be wonderful if you had an hour every single day to sit down and write down all of your feelings, but eventually life is going to happen and you’re going to miss a day, or two, or fifteen.
If you put too much pressure on yourself to write every single day, you’ll get discouraged when you miss a day and potentially give up. Instead of trying to write every single day like some people suggest, try starting with an hour a week. Or a day a month. Or whenever the heck you feel like it becuase really there are no rules for journaling.
Trying to be Virginia Woolf.
Virginia Woolf’s diaries are famously poetic and profound, but I bet there is a load of garbage in there too. That’s because journals are meant to be the dumping ground of ideas and feelings, not a collection of your most brilliant thoughts.
When you journal, especially at first, let go of the concept of good and focus instead on just getting whatever you’re thinking out of your head.
Waiting until you’ve got more time/space in your life.
I’ve got some bad news: your schedule is never going to miraculously clear itself for writing. I too wish that little elves would stop baking cookies in trees and come cook me dinner so I could write, but in my decade of writing professionally, that hasn’t happened once (I keep hoping though!).
Instead, I have to proactively carve out time for writing to happen, and so do you. You have to find a sliver of time, push everything aside on your table, grab whatever pen and paper you can find, and write.
If you need help creating the emotional and physical space in your life for writing, check out my free Finding Your Write Space course.
Sticking to just writing.
Journaling isn’t just about writing. Journals can include anything that helps you get your thoughts out of your head, including doodling, collages, drawings, lists, stick figures, image boards, whatever you want.
For inspiration, I like to look at what artists are doing in their journals/notebooks, and Instagram is a great place for that. Three people to check out that inspire me are Lisa Congdon, Frances Cannon, Mari Andrew, and Gemma Correll.
Common journaling myths debunked
Why don’t you journal more?
I ask this question a lot at my workshops and retreats and the answers I get are usually full of loads of misinformation and ideas about journaling that just aren’t true.
So I’m here today to debunk the five most often myths I hear people tell me about journaling.
Prefer video? Check out this live mini-workshop I did on 5 Myths About Journaling Debunked.
The 4 most common misconceptions about journaling:
Some of this overlaps with what I said above, but I think it bears repeating so you really get the idea that journaling is what you make of it.
1. It’s only journaling if you’re writing in a fancy notebook.
Is your lack of the “perfect journal” keeping you from writing?
I get it, having a fancy notebook to write in feels all professional and stuff, but you don’t need anything fancy to journal, heck you don’t even need a notebook. I often journal on napkins and receipts left in my pocket.
Journaling is simply writing down what you’re thinking and you don’t need a fancy notebook to do that.
2. Journaling takes a lot of time and you have to do it every day.
Are you not journaling because you just don’t have time?
Journaling can be as quick as jotting down a thought on a notepad or as long as hours spent writing in your diary every morning. It’s completely up to you how much time you give it in your life.
Don’t worry about how much time you have, just journal when you can! Why not jot something down right now?
3. You have to write something profound.
Do you not journal because you don’t think you have anything to say?
I’m 100% sure you’re wrong there. No, your journaling is probably not going to be the next NY Times Bestseller, but that’s not the point of journaling! Journaling is not for writing a novel or changing the world. That comes out of your journaling, yes, but it’s not the point.
The point of journaling is to get what’s in your head out of it, to gain clarity, to understand yourself better, to release the thoughts and pressure built up inside of you. Then, with that peace, understanding and clarity you can transform your life.
4. Journaling is just for writers.
Not a writer so don’t think you should journal? That’s bollocks!
(Yes, I did just use the word bollocks, and I refuse to regret my awesome word choice.)
Journaling is simply “a record of experiences, ideas, or reflections kept regularly for private use.” Any one can do it!
Let go of what others have told you!
Choose the journaling style, frequency, and tone that best suits YOU!
Those are the keys to journaling the “right” way.
Transform your life one page at a time.
Journaling will enhance your relationships, increase your financial prosperity, and amplify the joy and satisfaction in your life.
But don’t just take my word for it. Try it out for yourself with my free journaling course.
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