Journal topics and journal ideas are a good place to start when you are looking for a way to get into writing a daily diary. I started writing in a journal from a young age. One Christmas, my mother gave me this cute hardcover book with a little lock on it and I loved it. Growing up in a house with four other siblings meant that privacy was impossible. I never felt like I had my own personal space. As a brooding and contemplative child I yearned to find a place where I could be alone with my thoughts.
Reading was a great escape for me, and I would often climb in a tree or hide under my bed to get away from all the madness in my house. However, it was often not enough. When I received my diary I finally felt like I had a secret world that I could escape to. It became my little treasure trove that I would full with ideas, feelings and thoughts. Granted my diary as an 8 year old was borderline comical, but what I didn’t realize was that I had taught myself an invaluable skill.
By writing down what I felt and experienced I learnt to make sense of my emotions and behaviour. As a person who doesn’t enjoy sharing, it became a healthy outlet. The problem however, was the older I got the less I wrote in my diary. Which in hindsight is silly, because adulthood is when we need it the most. Therefore, I feel its necessary to write a blog post about journalling. Writing in a diary doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming. If you start by implementing the few journal ideas and topics I explain below, its actually quite easy. Let’s take a look!
First and foremost journalling is anything you want it to be. As a therapist I have always suggested that my clients write in a journal. Not only is it cathartic, but its also a way to sort out all your thoughts. If we’re honest with ourselves, often we over-think and over-analyse situations while thinking a thousand things at once. How can we manage to make rational and heart felt decisions when we don’t know what we’re feeling?
Daily diary writing is a great way to identify how certain experiences make you feel. When we write we untangle our thoughts and emotions, attach meaning to certain events and reflect on our bigger life picture. Journalling is effective because it is the one place we can be truly open and honest with ourselves, there is no need to hind behind a mask, because no one is judging you. The directness and open-heartedness with how and what you write gives you the space to be frank with yourself.
“Keeping a journal of what’s going on in your life is a good way to help you distil what’s important and what’s not.”
– Martina Navratilova
The purpose of journal writing is to become an objective bystander to your own life. We often get so enmeshed in our own thoughts, feelings and actions that we don’t always have a clear perspective of what is going on. When we jot down our daily routines and emotions we start to identify certain behaviour patterns and emotions. This may signal to us when we need to take a step back from a situation, or show us how we may be overreacting or not dealing with a challenge as well as we thought.
Keeping a daily diary can also be used as a tool to write down things you have learnt, solidifying lessons you have been taught, or as a space where you get to express your creativity. Starting a journal is easy, consistently writing in one is the tough part. Many of us can’t write lengthy pages, or we get bored or stuck when we don’t know what to write. There are many different journalling techniques and journal ideas. From writing down different topics to free writing.
Let me highlight a few ways on how you can use a journal and stick to it:
Create a morning or evening routine where you schedule in time to journal. Many creative people and writers journal in the morning. Personally, I have mentioned the importance of a healthy morning routine that includes meditation, so why not follow this up with some writing?
Evidence suggests that our minds are the most active when we wake up. Our brains have had time to process while we were asleep, so our creative juices flow really well when we wake up. Journaling in the morning sets your intention for the rest of your day and gives you the space to get rid of any emotional baggage that may interrupt your daily routine.
Writing in the evening has a different impact. I have gone to bed many nights worrying about the next day, feeling like I had forgotten to do something. This often leads to a sleepless night. When we journal in the evening it can be a great way to list our goals and write out our to-do-lists for the next day. I also find when I journal in the evenings that I literally dump all my experiences of the day onto the page, its really cathartic. I let all the stresses of the day out and end up going to bed with a peaceful mind.
I prefer pen on paper, but a few of my friends like typing on their computer or iPad. How you journal is personal, but choose a method you feel comfortable with so you do it consistently. I would suggest if you are typing on a PC or iPad that you don’t erase words and sentences that sound silly or irrelevant to you. The point of journalling is to just write, no matter how stupid you think you sound, everything jotted down has an important meaning.
No matter what you write or how you write, and even if you draw or use cut outs, leave it as you had intended. I have gone back into old diaries and notice that on days I felt really irritable my writing was scribble, while on a good day my writing was neat. This says something – learn from it!
Its easier to write when you have a quiet place to go that is free from distractions. Turn off your electronic devices, find a comfortable spot to sit and let the words flow. One of the reasons I suggest journalling in the morning is because the house is usually quiet. Maybe this is why evenings would suit you better, when all the kids are asleep and all the house work has been done, take a moment before bed to jot all your journal ideas down. I created a mindful space in my home where I go to meditate, write or read and this has been a life saver for me. Maybe you should try it?
Journalling will only work if you are open and honest with yourself. A diary should be personal and private, a place where you can let out all your thoughts, secrets and raw emotions, free from judgement. It is impossible to understand how you are feeling and what you are truly thinking if you cannot be open.
Which brings me to another important point. Make sure your diary is kept somewhere private or is password protected. Your loved ones must respect your privacy, and you need to feel safe enough to express yourself and not feel scared that someone finds it.
One of the worst things you can do is overthink about how you write. It doesn’t matter if it sounds ridiculous, if your sentences don’t make sense or if you decide to bullet point your journal ideas. Writing in a diary is a means of expression, whether creatively, emotionally or physically. You are not writing an essay, and your diary wont get marked. So let yourself go a little.
If you find yourself struggling to write and have no idea what to jot down, then stick around. Below I am going to show you some journaling techniques and journal ideas/topics that I found helpful and will definitely assist you in getting started!
A great journal idea If you struggle to write down your feelings everyday and find “traditional journalling” a bore, is to start a creative journal instead. This is similar to scrapbooking, and can be used to document important experiences. All you need is a blank book or canvas, some pictures, decorative stickers or scrapbooking supplies. Hey, if you are the artistic type, then draw or colour meaningful events, and make notes of creative ideas and go wild.
Many of you are already professional or amateur writers. So you know what it feels like to get writers block or feel uninspired. A creative writing journal is a fantastic way to get energised about writing again. Here are some journal ideas you can write about in your diary .
People Watch: Go sit at a coffee shop or at the park and observe the people around you. Notice their appearance, body language and tone of voice. Create fictional characters based on what you see. Use your imagination and build a story around what you think their lives are like.
Visit different places: Take a walk around your neighborhood and describe what you see, smell and hear. Go to places you don’t normally visit, like a hospital or police station and document what experiences come up for you.
Free Writing: A very simple technique I use is free writing. Set aside a certain amount of time and just write whatever comes out. It doesn’t have to make sense, ideas don’t need to connect and you can jump from one journal idea to the next. The aim is to simply let ideas flow.
A positivity journal is a really good self-care tool. This is the place where you write about all the positive things that have happened to you in your day. Make notes about your dreams and aspirations or add quotes that inspire you. You can write in long hand or just make bullet points, it doesn’t matter. Try mention the things that make you happy, what you are most proud of or better yet, turn it into a gratitude journal. Document all the people and things you are grateful for in your life.
The bullet journal is a planning system that enables you to plan for the future, track the past and keep yourself grounded in the present. Watch this short video for a great explanation on how to start. It’s full of journal ideas!
Many people have more than one journal. My husband keeps a daily diary where he writes about all his experiences and feelings throughout the day, but he also has a book where he schedules in free writing every morning.
I thought that I would share with you some of my personal journal examples and show you that there really isn’t a one size fits all approach. I use ONE diary to document my feelings and thoughts as well as to record creative ideas I have. I make notes of inspirational messages and use it to record my goals and ambitions. There really is no right or wrong to journalling – as you can imagine my journal is a mess.
I often go back and read my diary entries, this does two things for me. Firstly, When I feel low, I am able to go back and see what experiences and events made me feel inspired and energised and then I do them again.
Secondly, I am able to look back at certain times in my life, especially when I felt depressed or anxious and I realise that I often created a mountain out of a molehill. So when I experience these feelings again in the present, I am able to rationalise my thoughts and emotions and tell myself that it isn’t that bad, that I will be ok. Personally, this is the most powerful benefit I find when journalling.
Below is a real example of a journal entry I made a few months ago. This is only one page of three, but I was not comfortable sharing the rest. I hope it gives you a good idea of how I do it!
If the above techniques still don’t inspire you to write, and it really feels like you have nothing to say, try elaborate on these journal ideas and topics instead. Hopefully they will get your mind working and spark your inner creative:
Writing in a journal has changed the way I approach my life. Granted I still struggle to get it done on a daily basis, but I do try and prioritise journalling along with meditation and exercise. When I hit a blank and don’t have the energy to write about my day I think about different journal ideas and topics to write about. The key is to be as consistent as you can.
While writing this article I went back and read a few pages from my journal, and I can tell you one thing honestly. Documenting my thoughts and feelings has made me a calmer person, I am not as irritable as I used to be and I don’t snap as often.
I have also realised that physical exercise and a 10-15 minute meditation has had an enormous impact on my overall well-being. If I didn’t have a reference point (my diary) I may not have noticed that their were specific changes I made to my daily behaviour that caused this shift in my emotions.
Do yourself a favour and try it out for a month. Journal about your day, get creative or write down different journal ideas. Just write…
Please let me know how it goes, I would love your feedback!