Journaling changed when I started doing it every day

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I’ve journaled on and off since college. There’s nothing precious about the practice or the object — just thoughts, scribbles, lists, charts, notes. My journal is messy, with folded pages and words circled and crossed out. Arrows and stars pointing the way to important insights, smiley faces, question marks…my own emotional shorthand, before emojis were a thing.

One day long ago I was wordlessly angry and I opened my journal, stabbed it with my pen and dragged it down the page in a jagged, violent tear. I don’t remember what was going on that day (I didn’t even note the date), but seeing that page in my journal reminds me that such days happen, and they pass.

Daily journaling feels like showing up to an appointment with a friend.

I rarely go anywhere without my journal, but I’ve never journaled on a schedule, just whenever I had a problem to work out or some brainstorming to do.

For the last few weeks, I’ve journaled every day. Instead of coffee and the newspaper, I now start the day with coffee and my journal. It’s the first thing I do, before checking my phone or email.

So here’s the thing I didn’t expect: the experience of daily journaling feels totally different. It’s like showing up to an appointment with a friend. Something about the predictability and routine opens a channel to my inner voice that’s usually obscured by busywork, anxiety and distraction.

The other day, I literally asked my journal questions and the answers bubbled up as I wrote. Like the universe was talking to me. Weird. But cool.

No grand pronouncements or epiphanies, and your mileage may vary. But if you’re already a journaler, try journaling daily for a while and see how it feels. It sure feels different to me.

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7 Comments

  • I should get back into the habit of daily journaling. Sometimes I don’t know “what to write” and then I skip and fall out of habit.

    • When I don’t know what to write I just write to-do lists, or whatever blah blah blah is in my head, or doodles, or just curvy lines or stars or whatever. I never come to my journal with an idea about what I’m going to write. But I’m finding that showing up every day with no prerequisites (no word counts, no goals, no expectations) gets the words flowing.

  • It certainly couldn’t hurt! I keep wanting to keep several journals: a gratitude journal, a dream journal (because I dream every time I sleep, and even though I mostly remember them, I need to make note of all the details before they completely evaporate and I’m left with a memory without context – even dream context), and an all-purpose one in which I channel my energy and work stuff out.

    • I find that throwing everything into one journal makes it easier. Idea: you could use different ink colors for gratitude entries, dream entries, and regular entries. I have one of those old pens with 4 different ink cartridges in it (black, blue, red, green) — that would work!

      OR you could mark the corners of your different entries with stickers or tape or foil stars so you could flip through your journal and find them quickly.

      OR you could just ignore my unsolicited advice and get three beautiful journals!

  • I started journaling this year, and then at some point I stopped. It was helpful, in that it let me find patterns in my thinking and outlook that were informative. I need to go back and check when I stopped, but chances are good that it was when my daughter’s morning schedule changed. I’d like to get back to it, but I’m not sure when to make time for it.

  • Hi Asha, I started journaling too about a month back. Before that I was never irregular with it but last one month I have religiously jotted down every single day. I must say I can already feel the change in the way I perceive things now.

    • It’s amazing, isn’t it? I described it to someone as having a walkie-talkie connection to my inner voice.

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