1. Journaling is so easy, even kids can do it
Yes...and at the same time no. Journaling appears easy. From the outside looking in, journaling is just writing, right? Eh...it's a little more complicated than that. The act of writing in a journal may be easy, but being alone with yourself and your thoughts isn’t. Why? Because regular journaling asks us to dig deeper.
It begs us to stop complaining about Problem A every day and DO something about it. It asks us to get clear, really clear, about what we want. It’s not enough to say I want to write a book or run a half marathon—what are you going to DO to get there? Journaling says we need to face our fears head on. It wants us to acknowledge our self-doubt and come up with a plan to push forward anyway.
Journaling says we need to face our fears head on. It wants us to acknowledge our self-doubt and come up with a plan to push forward anyway.
But here's the good news: Facing your problems head on will only help you. Journaling will lead to clarity, self-confidence, and a better relationship with yourself. It will take you time to get the hang of your journaling habit, so don't give up after the first week or even the first few months. Walk into your journal practice understanding that as you change, your journaling will change with you And. That. Is. Okay.
Journaling will lead to clarity, self-confidence, and a better relationship with yourself. (<<< tweet that!)
2. You need to wait for inspiration to strike (or you have to be in the right mood)
Actually, when you're not in the mood to journal, is when you SHOULD be journaling. If there is something holding you back such as fear or frustration or a bad mood, this is when you need to journal. There's nothing wrong with journaling while you're in a good mood--I don't want to make it sound as though you should only journal when you're bad mood--but journaling your way through negativity channels deep thinking. It forces you to look inward and pull out those negative emotions and deal with them.
If you ever find yourself getting ready to journal then thinking, "Uh...I don't really want to journal" or "I just don't have anything to journal about," then make sure you DO journal, even if it is only for a few minutes. I can't tell you how many journal entries have started out: "I don't know what to write, so...yeah...I want to..." and just as in freewriting, if you show up to the page to journal every day, words will show up. But you have to allow them to come though; you can't force them and you can't give up after thirty seconds.
It is a wonderful thing to feel inspired, and I'm all for surrounding myself with inspiration, but we can't allow inspiration to control our creativity. We have access to our creativity and we have access to our journal any time of the day, not just when inspiration strikes. Inspiration itself is not the enemy, but the reliance on inspiration is.
Don't be afraid of inspiration, don't stop searching for inspiration, but also write in your journal regardless of whether or not you feel inspired.
3. There's only one way to journal
Not at all. This myth is likely attributed to the concept of a diary or a daily journal--a journal in which one records their life. There is definitely this style of journaling, but there are so many more ways you can use your journal. For example, you can use your journal to:
- Brain dump
- Track tasks + habits
- Write blog rough drafts
- Craft poetry
- Store webinar notes
- Create art
The only limit to how your journal can be used is your own imagination.
Not sure how you want to use your journal? Check out how other's use theirs. Search for "journaling ideas" and "journal pages" on Pinterest or YouTube. Or check out "The Ultimate Guide to Starting Your Journal Practice" and download 10 Ways to Use Your Journal from the library. (Don't have the super secret password for the library yet? Get it here).
You're the one who has to interact with your journal every day, so the way you decide to use it, HAS to work for you .
4. No one will ever read your journal
This is completely up to you. While journalingis one of the most personal forms of writing, there's no rule that says you can't share your journal with others. I have copies of journals from four ancestors who lived in the 1800s, and I love having these pieces of history written from their perspective. I've also enjoyed sharing some high school journal entries with my husband and old friends, laughing at how important a thing like a new backpack used to be.
On the other hand, I also have journal entries that are private and that I don't want anyone to read. There are even some entries that I have covered with gesso (a fine art opaque paint primer) and painted over. Pouring the words onto the page at the time is what I needed, but I don't need these entries anymore, so I've repurposed them.
Who you share your journal with, how much of your journal you share, and the type of entries you wish to share is up to you. You shouldn't feel pressured to share your journal, but you also don't want to feel as though you can't share your journal (because you totally can!).
Not sure how to get started with sharing your journal?
1. Start with sharing it with yourself. Go back and reread old entries. Pay attention to how you feel. When you come across entries that make you laugh or make you want to write more or share, mark them with a page flag. Any entries that make you cringe or give you that strong desire to rip them out and burn them--these are the ones you should probably save just for you.
2. Once you know what entries you want to share, you can rewrite them or type them up so they are separate from entries you don't want anyone to see.
3. Finally, be mindful of who you share your entries with. Because journaling is such a raw form of writing, we tend to be more sensitive towards criticism. Share your entries with people you trust.
5. Journaling takes up too much time
Hopefully, we already kicked this myth in the butt with the last two journaling posts, but just in case, let's tackle it once and for all: Journaling DOES NOT take up too much time. You can see the benefits from journaling in as little as 10 minutes a day. It is even easier (and faster) to journal when you make it make it part of a routine.
My own journaling practice takes less than twenty minutes a day. Sure, some days I write a little more so it takes more time, and some days I only write for five minutes. The more your journal, the more you will be able to recognize what you specifically need from your journal each day. Some days you might need more, some days you might need less, but to get this point to be able to recognize your journaling needs, all you have to do is journal consistently over a period of time. And THAT does NOT have to take much time at all. Learn how to consistently use your journal in this post here.
Tip: Rather than aiming to write a certain number of words or pages, set a timer for ten minutes and write that entire time. Regardless of how much you've written, when the timer goes off, close your journal and put it away.
Have you found yourself believing in any of these journaling myths? Or are there other journaling myths out there you think can stop us from starting or continuing our journal practices? Leave a comment and tell us about it.