What to do when you can’t get into the groove with journaling.

Have you ever uttered the words, “I should really get into journaling but I’m no good at writing.” Or, “I’ve tried to get into journaling, but I just can’t seem to stick with it more than a day or two.

I feel you. I really do.

Because I, too, have had trouble finding the time to journal.

I struggled when I was single and childless and had nothing BUT time.

Now that I’m married, have a toddler and a house full of furry friends, and two businesses to split my time between, I constantly struggle to make daily journaling and writing non-negotiable.  

Over the course of my life, I’ve probably come up against every single stumbling block and excuse as to why I couldn’t take on such a task.

And then I force myself to sit down and write.

Because when I do, I FEEL the difference. I am more grounded and focused. I am able to work through blocks more quickly and effectively. And I am able to make connections between seemingly unrelated things.

It’s the very reason I created the #30DAYSOFJOURNALING challenge last year.

And it’s why I embarked upon 100 Days of Blogging back in February.

I know how important this stuff is, and how public accountability keeps me at it, day after day, even when I don’t feel like it.

Why journaling?

Journaling is a powerful tool because it provides us with a way to pause and reflect on the things that are happening in our lives. It also allows us to gain a better understanding of why we do what we do, feel the way we feel, and say what we say.

In my own life, journaling has paved the way for an immense amount of self discovery and growth. I grew up in a home where journaling and self-expression was encouraged. I had an English teacher in 8th grade who required daily journaling as part of our class and overall grade for the year. Hell, my health coach training program incorporated daily free-writing (a la Morning Pages) as part of our coursework.

If you look at the most successful and prolific people in history, they have all journaled regularly. People like Thomas Jefferson, Charles Darwin, Benjamin Franklin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Francis Bacon, Susan Sontag, Anais Nin, Sylvia Plath, and Winston Churchill.

Even President Barack Obama regularly puts pen to paper and writes it out.

Getting in the groove.

So, how do you get into the groove with journaling when you’re coming up against road block after road block?

Get a journal!

I know. It’s pretty obvious, but this step trips up a LOT of people. A few questions to ask yourself when picking your journal:

  • Lined or blank? 
  • Fancy or plain?
  • Used or brand new?

There is no right answer here, just a matter of preference.

I went through a phase where I only wrote in graph paper lined composition notebooks. In high school, I only wanted to use sketch books because they allowed me to draw, doodle, and incorporate bits and scraps from the places I’d visited.

Regardless of what you choose, make sure that it’s a physical journal and not a document on your computer or phone. There is something so powerful about putting pen to paper and writing.

Pick a time of day to write.

This is probably THE most critical aspect — one that can make or break your success.

When in your day will you commit to carve out 15-20 minutes to write?

Mornings? On your lunch break? At night before bed? Pick whatever you think will work best for you and then block it off in your calendar and set it up as a recurring appointment.

I take the first 15 minutes of The Babe’s first nap to write. It’s guaranteed quite time, and it helps to structure the rest of my day. In the past, I’ve also enjoyed journaling as a way to recap my day and see where I want to focus my time and energy the following day. And I know a lot of others who start their day with journaling so that they know where to focus their time and energy.

Accountability, for the win.

Accountability is a really great motivating factor. When we know that others will be checking in on us to ask about how things are going, we tend to do the things we say we’ll do. It can also be helpful to have someone to talk to when things come up or you struggle to keep with it.

Identify at least one person that you want to have on your support team and let them know what you’re up to. And then encourage them to do it with you!

Your turn!

Are you an avid journaler or someone who has struggled to get into the habit? What has helped you stay the course?

Need help figuring out what to write?

I’ve got you covered with the 30 Days of Journaling workbook. Inside you’ll find writing prompts and support to help you stay the course and get your writing on.

The best part?

It’s $2.

More about Emily Levenson

Emily Levenson is a therapist turned holistic health coach, podcaster, meditation encourager, and seeker of everyday magic. Emily recently kicked off her third #The100DayProject, focusing her efforts on daily meditation.

One thought on “What to do when you can’t get into the groove with journaling.

  1. Lou Rain

    Great post!! I think I am getting your workbook. I have been journalling for a long time, have times when I slack on it. I do with evernote now though. Have tried DayOne. I like being able to write my thoughts throughout the day about anything when I am feeling. Sometimes a few words, sometimes paragraphs.


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