7 Helpful Tips for Starting and Keeping a Journal ...

Writing in a journal is such a great exercise, therapeutic in so many ways, but actually starting and keeping a journal can sometimes get a little harder. Whether you write it down in longhand or make use of WordPress, LiveJournal, or another platform, it's all too easy to stop after a while. One day you're just too busy to write; a few nights later, you're just too tired to jot down your feelings or the minutiae of your day; and after that, it gets easier and easier to skip your writing time. However, whether you're trying to improve your self confidence, dealing with a bad breakup, or simply trying to work the writing muscle, starting and keeping a journal is really worth it.

1. Pick a Preferred Method

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No form of journal writing is better than the other. Some people are adamant about keeping handwritten journals while others prefer the ease and convenience of using a writing program or creating an internet journal. Whatever you like is fine, there's no right or wrong choice. The key to starting and keeping a journal is to do what makes you comfortable. You might get writer's cramp really easily, or perhaps you prefer the authenticity of actively writing down your feelings. Just do you.

2. Create a Cool Design

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Whether you buy a notebook or a diary in which to write, or create something online, make it cool. Even if you buy an actual book, you can paste on stickers, sayings, photos, anything you like. The point is to make it yours. It should reflect your personality, your life, your dreams. If it's visually appealing, you're more likely to keep coming back to it.

3. Include Things That Inspire You

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Speaking of little inspirations, you can put them inside your journal too. Sometimes, you just don't feel like writing. If you're serious about keeping a journal, that can make you feel guilty because you know you shouldn't skip one of your scheduled writing times (more on that in a minute). The thing is, you don't necessarily have to write in your journal all the time; even if you do, you don't have to write a lot. If you spy a photograph, an article, or a quote that inspires you, insert it into your journal. You can jot down your thoughts – or not, if what you include perfectly describes how you feel.

4. Set a Schedule (or Don't)

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Some people write in their journals every single day. Some do it every few days, others do it weekly, and still others just write when the whim strikes. Do it semi-regularly, at least, and you're good. You won't want to write each day, so even if you're keeping a writing journal, don't force it. Let it become a habit, and eventually you'll have something to say every day.

5. Pick a Theme

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What kind of journal do you want to write? You could start a writer's journal, designed to hone your craft and help you think on your feet while getting into the practice of writing. You could start a dream journal as well, where you jot down your dreams and try to figure out what they're telling you. There are therapy journals, relationship journals, food journals, and many others. The point is that you need to write about something that interests you, because that will keep you motivated.

6. Take a Break but Don't Quit

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It's okay to take a break. Sometimes things happen. There are highs and lows when it comes to inspiration; your muse might be on the wane at some point. Sometimes you need to push through, but it is okay to take a break. Just don't quit. You can pick it up again when you're ready, as long as you actually start doing it again.

7. Read to Write

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If you're a writer, there's a very good chance you're also a reader. If you're a reader, then you know how much a good story, essay, or article inspires you. Read more to write more; jot down your thoughts, feelings, and ideas as they come to you. You should go back and read your own previous entries as well, so you can see how far you've come.

Keeping a journal really is therapeutic, plus it's a great way to train yourself to write every day. If you've got stacks of partially filled journals, you might be tempted to never start writing daily or weekly again. Don't do that; just try these tips for a while, and see if they work for you. For those of you who keep a journal or a diary, how do you keep it up?

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