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Journaling Writing : 10 Principles for Keeping an On-going Journal

10 Principles for Keeping an On-going Journal

By Ruth Folit

There are no hard-set rules for keeping a journal (also called as a diary). How often you write, how much time you spend, and how rigorously you maintain a regular journaling schedule are matters of personal choice and circumstance. What seems a comfortable writing schedule for one may seem unbearably formal to another. And while an individual living alone may have hours of solitude and enormous flexibility in terms of time, a parent with small children may have very little of either. So it is of primary importance to find what works for you. The following general guidelines, however, may help you to establish diary writing as a regular and enduring habit.

1. Allow yourself regular writing times.

Find a time of day that works well for you and use this time every day. As much as possible, control interruptions during this time.

2. Provide yourself a peaceful place to work.

If you need an uncluttered space, try to clear your work area before sitting down to write.

3. Develop a centering ritual.

Associating journal writing with another pleasurable habit can help to strengthen the routine and create an atmosphere of self-nurturing. When you are ready to write in your diary, consider pouring yourself a cup of tea or coffee. Play relaxing music. Take a moment for meditation, deep breathing, or simply relax and sit quietly for a few minutes. Read a quotation or a passage of poetry. Listen to a guided meditation tape.

4. Prompt yourself with a routine self-reflection question.

If you tend to have trouble starting, prompt yourself with a routine question, such as "What are you feeling right now? or, "What's on your mind?" Anais Nin suggests asking "What feels vivid, warm, or near to you at the moment? Another way: "I feel…", "I need…", and "I want…"

5. Write because you want to write, not because you have to.

Don't allow journal writing to become an obligation or chore. Remember not to demand more of yourself than you can give. If you have missed a day, or several days, accept that journaling, like life, is imperfect and go on. Write the next time you have a chance.

6. Create a positive feedback loop.

As you continue to use the journal as an opportunity to be with and learn about yourself, you will find that the practice gains a momentum of its own. Discovering your own hidden depths piques your curiosity and stimulates you to continue, setting up a positive feedback loop between your conscious and unconscious mind.

7. Emphasize process rather than product.

An important purpose of diary writing is simply expressing and recording your thoughts and feelings. Concentrate on the process of writing — keeping the flow of words rather than worrying about the end result. If your goal is to have a specific audience read your piece, go back to it later and edit it. Use your journal as the raw material for more polished writing.

8. Use well crafted journal writing tools.

Journal writing tools such as LifeJournal takes you far beyond pen-and-paper diary writing or word processing programs. Easy-to-use and attractive features make LifeJournal perfect for both novice and seasoned journal writers. The Daily Pulse lets you keep track of your mood, health, energy and stress levels. Quotes and Prompts spark ideas for you to write about if you're looking for inspiration. A Life History timeline helps you build an autobiography slowly and steadily, anecdote by anecdote. The powerful search function lets you find journal entries by keyword, topic, daily pulse, date, and kind of journal entry. There is information about journal writing techniques built right into the program. And although LifeJournal is intuitive to use there is a full help section and tutorial.

9. Learn from your own experiences.

After just a few weeks or months of keeping a journal, go back to earlier journal entries. See how you've changed. Look for patterns and correlations between your stress levels and your health. How does stress affect your energy levels? See what helped your general mood improve by opening up journal entries that precede an increase in your mood ratings. Learn from your own experiences. Use the objectivity of time to review your life from a different perspective that you had when you wrote the journal entries.

10. Have fun!!

Journal writing is its own reward. Once you get started, your journal will become another one of your good friends — one who is always available and has the time to listen attentively. •

© Ruth Folit, 2005. All rights reserved.

Ruth Folit is the designer of LifeJournal. Use LifeJournal sofware to create entries anytime from anywhere Learn more and sign up for a free trial now »

Updated 1/4/14 lnk