Having a creative outlet can be very relaxing. Journaling is an ancient tradition that has been thought to help clarify your thoughts and feelings, know yourself better, reduce stress, solve problems more effectively and resolve disagreements with others, not to mention, it can also be a nice distraction during the day when you just need a break. You may think of journaling as your typical daily diary, however, it can take on many forms and styles. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Diary: First, there is your traditional method, the diary. Pretty straight forward in that you record the date and a summary of events, happenings and encounters. Many people choose to write in their diaries daily, while others may choose weekly or sporadically, when the urge strikes. You can be as detailed or as vague as you wish and many people who keep diaries also include their feelings or other details. It really all comes down to what each individual wants out of it.
Doodle Book: Another fun way to journal comes in the form of something more visual, a daily doodle book. Aside from just helping you to get your feelings out, doodling can have some pretty great benefits such as helping you concentrate, helps you to analyze things more creatively, allows you to connect with your feelings on a different level, it’s very relaxing, enhances your attention to detail and observation, and gets your brain thinking in a different way then it does when just processing words. If you’ve never really done any kind of drawing, it may seem intimidating, so here some tips for doodling:
- Practice some basic shapes. Many things that we draw come from these. As you progress, you will begin combining them to create more detailed images.
- Find a drawing tutorial. With the web at our fingertips, its easy to find video demonstrations or just go to a store or library and find How-To books. These will help you get ideas for drawing, in addition to helping you with techniques so you will be able to get your own ideas and images on to paper.
- Scribble. Close your eyes, make a scribble on your paper, then open your eyes. What do you see? Turn your paper until something hits you. Now, make what you see a reality by adding details to your scribble. Maybe you add eyes, feathers, crazy hair, thought bubbles, anything. This exercise is really meant to get your brain thinking in a different and creative way by helping you see something out of nothing.
- Lastly, don’t get caught up just trying to create a masterpiece on every page, just doodle freely. Just start drawing little shapes on your paper without criticizing your work. Its just like free writing, but with pictures instead of words.
Curiosity Journal: This type of journal is a good place to keep the questions that pop into your head, the new discoveries you make and to keep track of things that you want to learn about. It’s a handy way to remember those random thoughts that can so easily slip away later. By documenting them at the moment, it will make it easier for you to recall, reflect and research them later when you have time instead of forgetting what it was. You might even want include images to accompany your entries, so you can see the exact item you refer to on each page.
Day Book: A day book is meant to be a place where you keep brief snippets throughout the day. In this type of journal you would jot down those little occurances during the day that make you smile, laugh or feel good. Some examples might be: Writing down a quote you overheard at the grocery store, lyrics to a song that made you smile, that silly dog you saw playing at the park or a restaurant you went to that reminded you of a good friend. I like this type of journal because by recording a bunch of happiness on a daily basis, it really gives you something uplifting to reflect on when you are having a bad day or help you find the good of each day, even on your bad ones.
Collage Journal: This is another image driven journal. Unlike the doodle book, here you would find pictures, graphics and clippings of words and images from magazines, newspapers, ads etc… that really speak to you in some way. Maybe they have insight into your feelings, can relate to something happening in your life, reflect your dreams or just make you emotional in some way. Take the images you’ve gathered during the day and make a collage out of them. Who knows, you might create one that really captures your essence, and you could even frame the finished piece. Lastly, try getting even more creative with your collages, by creating different shapes with your pictures instead of filling up the entire page.
Guided journaling: Guided journaling is such that you have predetermined subjects or goals for each day. These are not only a ton of fun, but, they come in handy for people that can be indecisive, have writers block, struggle with coming up with creative ideas and so forth. They are really great for getting the mind thinking and sparking ideas. Two suggestions I have for guided journaling are these:
- Writing prompts. Writing prompts are a lists of premade subjects that you are meant to write about. These are nice because they provide you that one thing that a lot of people struggle with, deciding what to talk about. By doing a quick internet search, you can easily find a list of writing prompts to keep near your journal and write about one each day.
- Guided journals. Looking for something a little different? There are a variety of guided journals available for purchase such as the ones you see here. They put a lot of prompts and creative activities into each day to keep your mind thinking outside the box.
Quote of the Day: A simple journaling idea is just to create a quote of the day book. Each day, try to find a quote that speaks to, makes you laugh, or that you really just like. Take a few moments to reflect on it, write it out, and briefly analyze what you think it means or detail how it applies to you and your life.
Top Ten Journal: Each record a top 10 list of the day. 10 favorite people you saw (strangers or friends), songs you heard, animals you encountered, things that irritated you or made you smile etc… Even if you do a list more than once, it will still be different since each day is unique.
Best, Worst, Learned: Each day, write what the best part of your day was, the worst part of your day and one thing that you learned. I find that this approach really helps you to reflect on your day, learn from your mistakes, recognize the good in each day and to show you how you’ve grown, even in some little way.
Blogging: Pen and paper not your style? Prefer to share your thoughts and feelings with others? Set up a blog and use that as your journal. There are plenty of options, such as those listed here, that offer services and are easy to use. People blog about anything and everything these days: interests, hobbies, daily life, you name it. Pick a subject, pick them all, and just run with it. At the end of the day, the blog is for you and should make you happy.
Some tips to think about when journaling are:
- Usually about 20 minutes at a time is a great starting point, however you can write as long as you wish.
- Don’t worry about punctuation and grammar, just let your feelings come out without pressure, naturally.
- Write quickly to help avoid over thinking, second guessing or other writing challenges.
- Be yourself, be honest and just write whatever comes to you. This is YOUR outlet.
- Keeping your journal private can help you really be free in your feelings and writing since you know that there will be no judgement from others.
- Combine journal types for more variety.
- THERE ARE NO RULES!