The start of a new year is a great time to begin keeping a journal or diary, but the challenge lies in keeping up your new daily journal writing habit. Sometimes you may struggle to figure out what to write about, or you might think that your writing is boring and not worth your time.
But as someone who has kept up the journal writing habit off and on for several years, I can assure you that journal writing can be just as useful as taking family photos, or posting your thoughts and experiences on Facebook and Twitter.
Today I would like to share a few ideas for developing a daily journal writing habit.
Why Daily Writing?
As opposed to writing on public or social network sites, journal writing can and should be more private, allowing you to write about experiences and topics that need not be shared publicly. Daily writing can be a reflective exercise which helps you process what’s going on in your life. It’s a useful coach for working through goals, and a personal psychiatrist for dealing with various challenges and problems in your life. Daily writing also builds your writing skills.
Your journal can serve multiple purposes, but if you want to write daily journal entries, you need a strategy. Let’s explore a few.
Thanks to a wide variety of online web journals (including Tumblr, Twitter, and 750Words), mobile apps (including Day One and Everyday.me), and computer-based journal applications, such as Day One and MacJournal, it’s a lot easier to maintain a journal, which can be locked for privacy.
While pen and paper are the traditional methods of keeping a journal, the digital method provides unique opportunities for daily writing, such as the ability to copy and paste email messages, social network posts, and quotes into your journal. On some journal platforms, you can tag entries and easily filter journal entries for review.
One Sentence Per Day
If you want to get in the practice of daily writing, but it stills feels too much like a school assignment, I suggest getting started with writing one sentence per day. Writer Gretchen Rubin came up with this idea as part of her Happiness Project.
One sentence per day is a manageable exercise in which you highlight one thing you want to remember, a goal you worked on, something your child or significant other said, etc. While this approach lends itself to posting daily entries on Twitter or Tumblr, I suggest using a private platform for personal entries. The apps, Everyday.me and Loccit provide a way to post some entries publicly and keep others private. There’s also a website dedicated to keeping a one sentence diary.
One sentence per day. I guarantee that once you get in the habit, there will be days when you write more than one sentence.
TextExpander Template Form
One approach I’ve started using for getting at least one journal entry posted per day is using a TextExpander [No longer available] snippet form. It consists of six questions with multiple responses I can choose from for each question, and the results get pasted in my Day One journal. I don’t use this form everyday, but when I do it sometimes leads me to writing a reflective journal entry about my day and how it went.
If you want to become a truly ambitious diary keeper, you might consider buying a 5-Year Journal book. Each page includes a question, followed by 5 sections of lines, starting with 20_ (the year), for each day of the year. You start each new year over in the book for five consecutive years. Over the five years, you can see how your responses to the same question change.
If five years is a stretch, you might consider using Tami Taylor’s monthly list of journal questions. Keep these questions bookmarked or print them out for when you get stuck for something to write about.
This online resource and mobile app are useful daily diary entry tools for keeping track of what you accomplished each day. Your daily entries can be as long or as short as you like, but the challenge is to make it a daily habit. This site is very useful for monitoring the progress of existing goals.
Bokeh Photo Journal
If you maintain a pretty active lifestyle, you might consider using the iPhone app Bokeh which I reviewed earlier this month. It enables you to quickly snap one or more photos per day and write comments for each entry. Your entries instantly get uploaded and posted to your account, which can be kept private or shared with others. While this app may feel like Instagram, it’s not. Bokeh is for personal photos and comments that you might not want to share on a social networking site.
You Can Do It
I’m going on my fourth month of daily journal writing, and I will most likely keep it up for the entire next year, mainly by using a combination of the strategies described above. Some days I may only post a single sentence, while other days I write multiple entries about a book I’m currently reading, a jazz song I really like, or the routine activities and challenges in my daily life.
If you’re a dedicated journal or diary writer, share with us your tips or strategies for keeping up with daily writing.