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.