For the longest time, I wanted to start a journal but was so intimidated by the prospect of actually sticking with one. I'd occasionally kept journals as a kid, but they were the most boring things ever to read back through.
(I actually introduced myself and each member of my family, and I'm still not sure why because I never let anyone else read it??? So confused.)
Finally, a couple years ago, I just bought a notebook and started. That was it. I had no idea how much I would grow through it. It was definitely a learning process, though- so, here's what you need to know.
1. Start small.
Don't try to do too much too early. Different things work for different people, obviously. I actually started mine initially as a gratitude journal. I just tried to be relatively (emphasis on the word relatively, here) consistent writing down one or, if I was feeling wild, two things a day that made me happy. This was a great way to begin.
I don't know about you, but for me the things I write down have a huge impact on the way in which I think. This helped me grow so much in my contentment. I had no expectation that starting this would literally transform my whole perspective on life. I started seeing and noticing things that I hadn't before, and my discontent just kind of wavered and faded pretty significantly.
So, if that's not enough reason for you to start joural-ing, just after point one, then wow.
2. Consistency is not that key.
While I said that I tried for consistency, I didn't beat myself up when I missed a day, or week, or month. You may be a little disappointed but you'll be fine, and so will your journal. Don't be so hard on yourself! You can always go back and fill in the details you missed.
3. Paste bits of your life.
Keep the random scraps of paper. Keep the movie ticket, the polaroid, the note from your little sister or the kids you babysit. Go pick a wildflower and press it between the pages. Keep the plane ticket, that random sketch, the stray petal from a dozen roses. Scrapbook that random magazine laying around the house. Write down that quote that means so much to you.
This lets you remember the little things that matter to you, and gets your journal looking super aesthetic. Bonus points.
4. Don't limit yourself.
When I first started, I found myself forcing myself into the gratitude journal format or holding back from writing what was on my heart in case someone else ended up reading it. Here's my advice about that: don't do that.
For one thing, your emotions and your thoughts are not supposed to be limited to joyful happiness and gratitude. This is not the way you are made, so don't try to pretend that that's how you are.
Write about what makes you cry at 1 a.m., what makes your heart clench and ache in the middle of a crowded room. Write about that longing you don't want to admit in the light. Write out the words you wish you could take back. Maybe you'll scribble them out or blur them with tears, but put it down on the paper. Let it out.
For me, this is where honesty starts. If I can't be honest with myself, then I'll never be honest with anyone else.
5. Read back over them.
This has been such an unforeseen blessing and encouragement to me. Looking back over scraps of prayers and seeing how the Lord has worked in my heart is one of my favorite things about journal-ing.
Because you forget. You really do forget what it was like to be in that place of hurting or lost-ness. You forget how sweet it was to be healed or found, and you read over old journals and it all comes back. It's such a beautiful testimony to God's grace in growing me in ways I couldn't have imagined.
So, yeah, just go start. It really is that easy.