If you think back to your childhood, I’m sure you had a secret book — maybe one that even had “My Diary” splashed across the front — that held your deepest, darkest secrets. You could tell your journal everything, but as a little girl, you didn’t invest too much in writing it. For example, one of my journal entries from elementary school looks like this: “I went to school. Recess was fun. I love my mommy.” Very Hemingway-esque. While there’s nothing wrong with keeping a journal in this fashion, I have a couple of suggestions to help improve your journaling.

Why Should I Journal?

First of all, countless studies have shown that journaling relieves stress, stimulates the brain’s creative processes, and serves as a gift to your future self. If nothing else, it’s a record of the high and low points in your life, and it can prove to be a valuable asset further down the road.


What Kind of Journal Should I Keep?

The answer depends on your personal preference. Really, there are two main types of journaling – event-based and emotion-based. In event-based journaling, your entries document the string of events in your personal experience. This technique covers the who, what, when, and where of a given situation. On the other hand, emotion-based journaling may also take circumstances into account, but primarily exists to help you sort out your emotions. This method reflects on feelings or anxieties and gives the why and how of a situation. In my journal, I use both approaches. I like knowing what I did on any given day, but I also enjoy knowing how I felt at that point in my life.

How Can I Get Started?

Honestly, journaling isn’t as intimidating as it seems. In my opinion, the best way to get started is to set a time and a place to journal every day and stick to it. I journal before bed every night for fifteen minutes to help me unwind. Next, I like to use the bullet-point format because it tricks the brain into imagining journaling as less of a chore. My bullet points look something like this:

  • Slept through alarm (again) – frustrated, need to get that fixed
  • Skipped breakfast – felt sick during first class
  • Had lunch with Jamie – frozen yogurt machine broken L

And that’s it! Hopefully, this article sold you on the notion of keeping a journal.

What do you think?

Do you keep a journal? What are your tips for people who want to get started? Let us know in the comments section below!


  1. avatar Nina says:

    im glad your back. I’m on this website everyday. when i saw its not getting updated i was worried that the website is down, but they told me you had finals so i just wanted to say i hope you gave them well and I’m glad that your back.

    i keep journal every year but i always forget to fill it in so i gave up but it defenetly helps with reducing stress and anxiety when writing. what hoped me to write till some point was i used bullet points like this:

    . felt sick, didn’t go to class.
    . saw X after a week, it was akward
    . it rained so did i (i cried)

    they were just examples i use lazy sentences when i don’t feel like writing and i write Dear diary or this happened to day diary or guess what happened? …

  2. avatar bmmorgan says:

    Sarah, those are some excellent observations! The most important bit is definitely not getting discouraged if you miss a day or two. You can always go back to it at any time!

  3. avatar Sarah says:

    I have been keeping a journal for about 3 years now. They sell really cool ones in Paperchase, where there are slots to put in photos, cinema tickets, etc. Usually it’s just a run down of my day, which is probably pretty boring reading but it’s nice to look back and reflect. Sometimes my entry will focus on a specific event in the day.

    The best thing I’ve found is to just throw yourself in to it. Just start writing. I still sometimes forget to write for about a week (sometimes longer), but I find it better if I don’t beat myself up about it, and I just go straight back to it, summarising what has happened during the absence.

    I have friends who keep journals, but will only write every few weeks, just to document any big changes. Everyone has their own style, and it’s just about finding what works.

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