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The Art and Importance of Journaling

Hands Writing Travel Journal
Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

Journals can be anything you want them to be, from a straightforward record of events to a method for artistic expression.

Some people incorporate drawings with their words, write poems in their journals, or otherwise explore their feelings through artistic expression. Wondering why journaling matters, and how to incorporate it into your life? This guide is for you—read on for more.

Why Is Journaling Important?

When you have a stressful day, how do you calm down?

You can meditate, do yoga, or start baking, but you can also write in a journal. Journaling gives you a chance to vent without needing to bend someone’s ear. It’s a way to release emotions and stress, to work out the feelings you’re experiencing (even joyful ones), and to let go of anger toward life or other people.

When someone frustrates you, approaching them can be dicey. Writing out your feelings lets you get that stuff off your chest without saying the wrong thing to someone’s face. It gives you a chance to rationalize things and a moment to be irrational without consequence (just make sure you keep your journal private).

You’ll also find that keeping a journal allows you to keep track of things that have gone on in your life. It allows you a simpler way to look back and see how far you’ve come.

Why Is Journaling Considered an Art?

handwriting and drawing in pencil in a notebook against rustic picnic table with cup of tea
marekuliasz/Shutterstock

If you’ve ever written in a journal, you know that entries can be a combination of diary writing and creative writing, with some list-making thrown in. Many people doodle in their journals with pens, pencils, or even markers. Some use art for illustration, and there’s also a chance you might start a journal filled with art only.

To better understand the art of journaling, it helps to look at some different types of journals:

  • Basic journals: When you write down what you did for the day, your hope and dreams, or your feelings, you’re doing some basic journaling. Some people compare this to keeping a diary.
  • Gratitude journals: If you want to bring more things into your life to be grateful for, you need to express gratitude (even when you don’t feel like it). A gratitude journal is a place to keep a daily list of all of the things you’re thankful for, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem.
  • Dream journals: Having trouble remembering your dreams? Write down anything you can remember each morning when you wake up, and your dream journal will help you start to remember more of what you dream at night. Keep a dream journal so you can look back at those dreams and see what messages they were sending you.
  • Wellness journals: There are all sorts of wellness journals. Keep a food journal if you’re watching your diet or trying to find out if you’re affected by food allergies. Keep a fitness journal if you’re trying to get fit and want to keep track of workouts.
  • Art journals: Art journals are a combination of words and art. Art gives you another way to express your feelings. You can draw, color, and even do collage work in your art journal.
  • Bullet journals: Bullet journals are like a mixture of a basic journal and an everyday to-do list. This journaling type may take some time to get used to, but it can lead to more efficiency in all aspects of your life.

How to Get a Journal Started

If you’re ready to start a journal, here are the things you’ll need to do to find journaling success.

Which Medium Do You Want to Use?

There are options when it comes to where to journal. You can do it in a file on your computer, use a cloud storage option like Google Docs, download a journaling app on your tablet or phone, or you can use pen and paper.

If you choose to use a pen and paper, pick a journal that you like looking at. You want a notebook or unique journal that attracts you to it, so you’re more likely to keep up with entries.

journey home page

If an app is what you want to use, Journey offers a cross-platform option with a free trial period. From travel journals to dream journals, Journey offers you everything you need to add journaling to your daily routine.

You can also do a vocal journal. Record yourself on the phone or a handheld recorder, or make videos.

What Do You Want to Write About?

Pick the type of journal you want to focus on. You can have more than one, but combining too many into one may be overwhelming and discourage you from writing in any of them.

Decide on an angle for a general journal, if that’s the route you want to go. For example, will you mostly write about your feelings or will you write about the things you hope and wish for in life?

How to Keep It Up

Journaling can be overwhelming at first. You’re adding something more into your daily routine. Set a few minutes aside each day to write in your journal. If you’re keeping a diet or fitness journal, carry it with you since you’ll be updating often.

Since your journal is meant for your eyes only, don’t worry about editing and punctuation. Just write what you need to, no matter how it comes out.

Make journaling a habit. Keep your journal near a place where you often sit and relax, so you’re likely to grab it and do some writing in your free time.

Finally, find a way to make it fun. This will attract you back to the pages of your journal. Draw on the pages, make things rhyme, write in different pen colors, and try not to be too serious all the time. Happy journaling!

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow has been a professional writer for almost two decades. Yvonne has worked for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and much more as a writer and editor. She's also a published poet and a short story writer. Read Full Bio »

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