I’m a writer, so not liking writing and not keeping a journal are pretty foreign concepts to me. But I have friends, and family members for that matter, who just don’t get the whole appeal of writing. And they certainly don’t get the appeal of having half my desk covered in pens and markers, all for the purpose of journaling!
It’s pretty much generally accepted that journaling has one thing in common and that is writing. However, there are ways to keep a journal even if you don’t like writing. If that’s you, here are a few ideas for you to think about.
Idea #1 – Draw Pictures
Before there were written languages, there were pictographs. So, drawing in your journal instead of writing your entries makes perfect sense.
From simple to elaborate, any kind of picture that expresses your emotions and situation will help. After you’ve drawn the picture you can label and annotate it. If you leave a blank page opposite your drawing then you can come back and review it at a later date and jot down any additional thoughts, emotions and responses. Quite often this simple method will actually get you writing quickly.
Why not try using different types of pen or pencil to make your journaling more interesting and exciting? I use several different types of pens and markers in my bullet journal including these:
Idea #2 – Use Diagrams
If you are journaling about a problem, then you might consider using a diagram such as a mind map or decision tree. Diagrams are powerful because they are visual and help you to see patterns and connections more easily.
If you are trying to make a decision, then you can illustrate the different outcomes and results to help you formulate the best decision. Adding in color not only makes them more attractive but can highlight connections.
Idea #3 – Use Journal Prompts
Using a simple prompt such as a word or question can help break the blank page syndrome and inspire you to unburden yourself onto the empty page in front of you. It’s important that you don’t feel that you have to write a lot or even in full sentences.
The journal and act of journaling has to relate to your needs at that moment in time and this will vary from day to day.
You could consider purchasing a journal designed for the specific use you need. There are lots of weight loss, gratitude, happiness and other journals available. Many of these will include prompts and recording methods that don’t require lots of writing.
Idea #4 – Create a Collage
Get some magazines or newspapers and cut out words, phrases, paragraphs or even articles that relate to your situation or emotions at that particular point. Add in pictures that you find that could demonstrate how you are feeling or want to feel. Again you can annotate it to make it truly personal. Leave a blank page so that you can revisit and review at a later time and add in additional notes. Mixed media or art journals work really well for this type of journaling.
Idea #5 – Create an Audio Journal
While writing using a pen and paper is probably the most powerful method of journaling you can also use dictation software such as Dragon. You’ll need the software and a computer with a microphone to use this method. It may be easier to start your journaling journey by speaking to the computer and imagining you are talking to a friend or just yourself. The software will ‘write’ what you say and you can save the document so that you can review it later.
You may decide to keep your journal electronically in which case you can review it and add in later thoughts and feelings by typing or dictating through the speech recognition software. Or you may decide to print it out and keep it in a binder. If you do print it out, then you have the opportunity to embellish it or make additional notes on the hard copy.
You may decide you want to record your journal entries and save them as audio files. While I have to admit, this isn’t something I’d do myself, it seems like an interesting concept. The historian in me thinks it would be grand to go back and listen, or to leave a record of your life in your own voice for future generations of your family to hear.
Find a Journaling Routine that Works for You
Journaling does not have to be done every day for a set period of time if that does not suit you. You won’t get the benefit of journaling if it becomes just one more chore on your to-do list. Many people journal every day for 20 minutes as that is the method that suits them best. However, it may be that once a week is enough for you, especially if you’re using one of these non-writing methods.
Alternatively, you may decide that you will journal when you feel you need it. Some days it may be that you choose to use a prompt or picture to kick-start your writing. Other days you may find that the words flow and you can write without stopping.
The important points to remember are that the journal is a personal document designed to help you and that it is designed to be used and revised. It’s a living document and there is no right or wrong way to create or use it.