When I began my daily journaling practice I was hoping to form a more consistent journaling rhythm as-well-as to form a more honest and personal relationship with myself and my writing voice. Up until that point, I found my journaling to be a list of things I did that day or a long winded dramatic dump of all the emotions I was feeling that day.
But the idea of having an unlimited amount of space each day felt overwhelming. I ended up choosing the Moleskine 18-month planner. It would give me one page to write each day…no more, no less. I could do one 5″x8.25″ page!
I began on October 22, 2019, and planned to complete it by December 31, 2020. Who knew that I would be capturing our lives as we dealt with a global pandemic, a change so drastic that it affected our young adult children as they made decisions for their future, a change in our work and lockdown that kept us all distant from family and friends. My daily journal was a place for me to document all that we were dealing with, learning about ourselves and each other, as-well-as the world around us.
I hadn’t planned to capture such a momentous time, but rather just to help me find my journaling groove again and yet this pandemic helped me to return to my journal each day because there was so much to work out.
I’m down to my last two days in this journal and it’s amazing to look back and see all that I’ve accomplished. It feels good to have met the goal I set out to achieve, but I’m mostly pleased that I have this time-capsule of sorts to help me look back at a time where the world changed daily.
Tips for Creating a Daily Journaling Practice
- Set an attainable goal – For me that was to have only one-page each day to fill. I did have another journal where I wrote more in-depth on certain days but I didn’t have the time to do that each day. I recommend sitting with the idea and knowing who you are and what kind of time you have to put in each day. Journaling is 100% about you, so do what works for you.
- Where will you do your best writing? – If you can write sitting on the subway or in a lunchroom at work, go for it. If you need a quiet space away from anyone else, then find your private place.
- Keep your journal close – If you journal in bed before you go to sleep or first thing when you wake up, keep the journal next to your bed. If you journal on the go make sure to buy a journal that travels easily.
- Aim to write for 15-20 minutes – That doesn’t mean you can’t be quicker or take longer, just carving out 20 minutes each day should give you enough time to write one page.
- Write freely – Try to avoid all the “shoulds” and just write as freely as you can. My goal was to avoid writing a giant to-do list each day, but with limited space, I knew I couldn’t write out everything that happened that day and how I felt about it, so I would pick one thing. Something in the news that affected us, the way my kids were handling a situation, the way I felt about something that happened at work.
- Try to find the lesson– I didn’t want to look back at my journal and see long emotional monologues about how someone at work hurt my feelings or how the kids didn’t like my dinner. So each time I sat down to write I wanted to focus not so much on the emotional side of an issue but what I can learn from it. I wanted my journal to help me grow. Each day I would look at all that I’d written and say to myself “What’s my part in this?” In other words, was a situation difficult because of how I behaved or how I filtered the situation? Did I do something to contribute to it and what could I do differently next time? If it was something that was happening in the world and I felt out of control, I would ask the same question…”What is my part in this?” In other words…”Am I allowing the negativity to affect me? What can I do in my life to help alleviate the fears? What do I have control over?”
I’ve decided to continue this daily journaling, so I’ve purchased another Moleskine, this time in red. I know that we are looking at 2021 and are hopeful for what this year may bring. We’re all ready to let go of 2020 and yet I know that much of what we have dealt with this year will follow us into the new year, but I have my trust journal to help me through.