Written by Debby Urken

How to Make Journaling Part of Your Life

A new year is here! Have you been looking at the empty journals on your shelves, thinking about setting a resolution or intention to journal more regularly in the new year?  Each year, IAJW receives many questions about how to journal more consistently. Many people want to incorporate more journaling into their lives, but struggle doing so. Sometimes this causes discouragement and frustration.  

It may help to know, that while each individual is unique, and different strategies work for different people, there are research-backed tools that help people create consistent habits. And these tools can be applied to journaling practice.

What’s Your Habit Style?

Some people crave routine and get frazzled when something prevents them from following their daily routines. Other people like to break routines. They seek variety, freedom, and spontaneity. However, I think it’s safe to say, most of us go through times when incorporating a bit more structure to our day can help us reach our writing goals and improve our quality of life. 

How to Journal Consistently

No matter whether you crave routine, or avoid it, if you want to journal more, it can help to keep a regular journaling practice, even if just for a week or month. This will help you get a feel for what it’s like to journal more often and figure out how you can snag bits of time throughout your day to do some journaling. Once you see how it feels to journal more regularly, you may be more likely to return to journaling later, even after you let go of deliberate practice. 

3 Steps to a Consistent Journaling Habit

Researchers who study how habits are formed like to say, “If you can form a ‘bad’ habit, you can form a ‘good’ habit.” That’s because ‘good’ and ‘bad’ habits are formed in a similar way. Researchers, such as B.J. Fogg and Wendy Wood, have identified simple behavioral principles that explain why certain habits stick.

Want to learn more about these simple behavioral principles and how they can be applied to journaling practice? Here’s the first three…

  1. Know your “Why” – Identify why it is important to you to journal more regularly.
  2. Make your initial goal small and doable.
  3. Pair your desired writing habit with another activity you do regularly.

To learn about all 7 principles, and how they can help you journal more regularly, check out my How to Form (and Keep) a Daily Journal Writing Practice in the IAJW Journaling Store here >>

Will It Work For Me?

I first learned these principles in graduate school. We were given an assignment to create a new habit using these principles, and then report back. I developed ways to adapt the principles to journal writing and other forms of creative practice, creating strategies that could meet different people’s needs. Once I developed a regular practice of my own, I started teaching others how they could create a regular journal writing practice.

Even people who are extremely busy have been able to incorporate a daily practice into their lives using this method. It helps to keep an open mind as you start using this method, as your initial writing habit may look different than your ideal journal writing practice. With time, you can develop your initial habit into a more involved practice. If you prefer to aim for writing once or twice per week, rather than daily, that’s perfectly fine. You can use the same behavioral principles to develop a regular writing practice of any type or frequency.

In my experience introducing these principles to people of all ages, including children and older adults, I’ve found people who learn about this approach take what they need, and leave what they don’t. There’s no need to worry about applying these behavioral principles the “wrong way.”

The behavioral principles may work best in combination, but I encourage you to try things out for yourself, experiment, and determine what’s helpful for you. Provide yourself with a non-judgmental space to ask yourself questions, think critically, and be reflective, so you can figure out how incorporate more journaling into your life. My ebook will support you as you walk this path.

Creating a Thriving Journaling Practice is a Process

Showing up to the page consistently is more than half the battle when trying to form a consistent journaling practice. However, developing a process that will allow you continuously evolve and grow as a journal writer is important too.

The good news is… You already have a creative process, you just might not know it! We are all creative beings, even if we don’t regularly engage in an ‘artistic’ pursuit. The things, experiences, and opportunities we create on a daily basis, might not be considered ‘creative’ by some standards, but at their essence, truly are creative acts.

Defining and developing your creative process, so you can grow your journal writing habit and take steps in the direction you want to go in, requires intention and thoughtfulness. But you can use your writing skills to get there. Listen to yourself and go slow. You have what it takes to create a lasting journal writing practice that will support you in many positive ways in your life!.

How to Form (and Keep) a Daily Journal Writing Practice

How to Form (and Keep) a Daily Journal Writing Practice

This workbook includes practical, step-by-step instruction and 16 self-reflection journal prompts that will help you overcome common barriers to maintaining a daily writing practice and motivate you to build a daily practice you love!

AuthorDebby Urken is a writing, somatic dance, and art educator. Debby has worked through the arts with people of all ages and abilities, helping people get out of their own way, develop greater self-awareness, and rediscover their compassionate, authentic selves.