Journal Writing in February


A few years ago I was great at journal writing. I was serving a religious mission for the LDS church and I wrote in my journal almost every single night. My schedule was also a lot more structured than it is now, so I always had about 20 minutes set aside just for journal writing. Now, I write occasional notes, ideas and various things in a physical notebook. I tend to treat my social networks, blog, Evernote and camera roll as my journal.

This isn’t bad and is a good way to keep track of what I’ve done,  but there’s something therapeutic, relaxing and inspirational about journaling. When I wrote all the time I felt the stress and problems from the day melt away into the pages. I felt like I paid more attention to my day and was able to reflect on what happened and what it meant. I could write about and ponder on my goals, my aspirations, my struggles and everything in between.

When I wrote in my journal I felt like I could get all of the thoughts swimming in my head out on paper.

That’s what I want to accomplish this month. I won’t be following any particular method or set any rules. If I want to keep a daily account of my life or just doodle or free write, that’s fine. I’ll do what feels right for the day. My only rigid rule this month is to journal every night before bed.

I know there is probably a huge battle among writers and journal-writers about when is the best time to write. In my opinion, the best time to write in your journal is whenever is the best time for you. I personally like writing at night because it helps me get my whole day out on paper. It helps me get a fresh start for the night and coming day. When I write at night I can start the next day with a clean slate.

But you have to find what’s best for you. If writing early in the morning is your thing, then do that. If you like to journal at lunch, go for it. Find your rhythm and make it stick. The important thing is to stay consistent.

Once you have a set time, you need some materials. Find a journal and pen that you love. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, any notebook and pen will do as long as you love them. If you don’t like your journal and writing instrument you’ll be less likely to do it. I always use my favorite type of pen for journaling (Uni-Ball Jetstream 0.7mm black ink) and a notebook that is around 5×7, but that’s not a huge requirement. When I’m done with my current journal I’m probably going to switch exclusively to Leuchtturm1917 notebooks, but that’s a personal preference.

Now that you have a set time and something to write in and with, choose a place to journal. In bed, in your favorite chair, at your desk, on the floor, just pick somewhere to journal each day. I write just before bed, so my spot is in bed. Experiment to see where you get some good inspiration.

Put your journal and pen in your chosen place and when the time comes start writing! Write (or draw or whatever) until you’re finished, whether for 2 minutes or 20, don’t let a set amount of time scare you. The important thing is to get something down on paper.

Happy journaling! Feel free to give any suggestions or ask any questions in the comments. I’ll be posting a bunch of tips and ideas for journaling throughout the month, so stay tuned!


  • Pat Griffith says:

    Do you have any advice for how to cope with writing being soooo much slower than typing? I otherwise love writing on pen and paper, and I think I can sometimes be a lot more creative that way, but it’s so aggravating when my head is three paragraphs ahead of my pen.

    Or is that just one of those things that you have eventually learn to accept?

    • Nathan says:

      I’m not sure if I have a good answer for you, but personally I like writing my journal by hand because it’s so much slower. It helps me slow down my racing mind and is a nice change in pace from being online or on my computer. I also tried journaling with Day One and other apps and found myself distracted by everything else on my computer. With the paper journal there’s nothing but paper. I also found this article which makes some cool arguments for writing by hand:

  • Dave Parry says:

    Well, towards the end of quite a productive weekend on my own, sorting out junk, this nudged me to find my journal, get a new pen and write something. It was good to revive an old habit; in particular I found it allowed me to properly notice and develop some ideas which have been bumping around in my own very jumbled and busy mind, rather than lose them in the turmoil of a hectic new week. I was also able to fully appreciate the achievements of my weekend instead of writing it off as a waste of time, which I nearly did. I enjoyed the slower pace, to pick up on the question above, which I likened to the difference between walking and driving; at walking pace there’s so much more time to see and appreciate everything around me and writing with a pen (which I do every day at work anyway, with a very different purpose and in a very different frame of mind) allowed me to pick off a few, ripe, juicy thoughts from the multitude passing by and savour them for a moment before moving on. I’m really glad I read this and will probably write in my journal again soon; it isn’t a new discipline I’m adding to a daily routine but a welcome return to an occasional, familiar practice which I value highly. Thank you!