When you think of journaling, are you taken back to grade school and documenting your secret thoughts in a diary?  Or stealing your sister’s diary to read her secret thoughts?  While journaling as an adult may include those same secret thoughts, they can also be a great organizing tool for your to collect your thoughts, work out problems, brainstorm solutions and express yourself.

Writing by hand has specific benefits through the brain-body connection that happens with your writing movements.  However, you can journal online or on your technology devices.  The idea is that you can benefit from spending structured time processing thoughts and doing a brain dump each day.  Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, recommends a daily practice of writing three pages each morning.  These “Morning Pages” allow you to dump onto paper whatever rambling thoughts, to-do list items, or anxieties that can keep you from being your most productive, creative self.

Journaling provides a regular way to express yourself and record the little important items that happen to you through your life journey, and gives you something to notice and acknowledge your growth over time.  The process also allows you to see what you consistently complain about or have as regular issues.  Once you gain this awareness, you can decide whether you want your experience of life to be different, and start thinking about making changes in those recurring theme areas.

When you begin journaling, you may find it challenging to come up with things to write about, or worry about recording something in case someone sees it.  Or you may not know who to write to or for.  How you handle these different concerns is really up to you.  Here are some recommendations to get you started:

1. Commit to a daily practice–when and how long will you journal for?  What format will you use?

2. Keep writing, even if it is line after line of “I don’t know what to write about.”  Eventually you will get bored of that and think of something else to include.

3. Don’t censor yourself.  Allow whatever thoughts come up to be recorded.  You are the only one who will see this, unless you decide to share it.

4. Let the others who share your life know what you’re doing and how they can support you.

5. Look up some journal idea starters on the internet to help you with specific topic ideas if you get stuck.

6. Keep it up!  If you miss a day, or a few, just go back to your commitment when you can.  Applaud yourself for getting back on the horse after your time away.

7. Enjoy the new focus, creativity and mental clarity you are allowing into your life, and the documentation of your life’s journey!