Why I Journal

It all started in 1996 when I stole my sister’s Hello Kitty diary from her room, ripped out the pages she had written in, lied to my parents claiming the diary was mine, and brought it to preschool for show and tell.

I was a little devil child. ↓

When my parents found out the truth, I was in big trouble for 1) stealing from my sister and 2) lying to my parents. Yikes. The funny thing is, my sister ended up giving the diary to me anyway three years later. At seven years old, I wrote my first ever entry in that same Hello Kitty diary, apparently having developed a new sense of morality:

Little did I know that in reflecting upon my transgressions in that Hello Kitty diary, my seven year old self had sparked a lifetime of journaling which would eventually become an invaluable catalyst for emotional releases, welcome nostalgia, and priceless self-reflections.

Let’s fast forward to modern day 24 year old Jenn. Believe it or not, since I wrote my first diary entry as a seven year old, I’ve never stopped journaling. Though I’m no longer using a Hello Kitty diary, journaling is still a prevalent part of my life. Over my lifetime, I have accumulated a plethora of journals and notebooks filled with invaluable narratives of my life.  

Nowadays, I actually keep two types of journals – one to continue my life narrative, and another to jot down creative thoughts and ideas. Here are a couple of things I love about both!

Narrative Journaling

Writing as an emotional release
Whenever I’m feeling an extreme emotion – whether positive or negative, journaling can be a relieving emotional release for me when I’m unsure how to otherwise express myself. I find comfort in being able to write in a safe place where the only judgement I’ll receive are my own eyes and thoughts

Reflecting on feelings and experiences I would have never otherwise remembered
From giggling at my rambling thoughts as a child, to wincing in embarrassment at my boy-obsessed pre-teen years, to pausing in self-reflection at my personal growth in college, reading past journal entries has brought back memories I had completely forgotten. My journals contain invaluable documentations of my evolving thought processes and are enlightening in terms of how I’ve grown as an individual. They give me insights into the life experiences that molded me into the person I am today and serve as reminders that pain, sadness, and happiness are all inevitable emotions in the life road map. 

Creative Journaling

Housing ideas and notes in one place
I have two creative journals – one for Honeydew and one for my personal life. (So I guess technically I’m housing all my creative ideas in two places.) I use them for long term to-do lists, goals, random ideas, and doodling. My version of creative journaling is pretty similar to bullet journaling, except it’s not nearly as pretty or organized. I find that jotting down my ideas and goals in a medium I re-visit frequently holds me accountable in actually carrying them out. My creative journals also serve as sources of inspiration when I’m lacking motivation or searching for ideas.


Free-form Doodling and Bulleting
Isn’t it refreshing writing down your thoughts without having to worry about forming coherent sentences? Sometimes my pages are complete word vomit. Sometimes they are beautifully constructed check lists. And sometimes they’re just doodles of inspirational quotes. I love having the freedom to creatively express myself in journals with no boundaries. The creative journal pages are fun to revisit too! Two years ago, before I even seriously considered starting a blog, I brainstormed what my imaginary blog name would be in the pages of my creative journal. It was just a fun activity at the time and I never thought  it would actually ever come to fruition:

Journaling Tips

Invest in a journal you LOVE
Why buy any regular cheapo journal, if you’re going to use it regularly and keep it forever? Besides, it takes me years just to fill up all the pages. I like having a journal that inspires me with an aesthetic that I LOVE. I recently discovered Erin Condren, a brand known for its LifePlanners (I’m a planner nerd and I’m totally going to buy one for 2018), but they also have the absolute cutest customizable notebook and journal designs! (They’re the ones I’ve featured in the photos in this blog post!)  You can customize the journal size, the binding and the page design. You can even add personalized text on the cover for no additional charge!  Definitely worth the investment. You can find my marble and floral coiled notebooks here and here; and my cactus journal here

Invest in some fun pens and markers
I love these dual-tip markers from Erin Condren. I also love these Pilot G2 pens, which you can find at stores like Target, Walmart, and Office Max. If you’re real ambitious, they also come in a pack of 20. Writing is so much more fun when you have a plethora of colors to choose from! Color easily becomes a catalyst for creative inspiration.

Write in a style and schedule that works for YOU
You don’t have to write in a journal everyday for them to be valuable. For some of you, sticking to a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule might help remind you to write. But personally, I write whenever inspiration strikes (in other words, whenever I darn well feel like it). The best part of journaling is that you’re doing it for YOU and you only. The style and frequency which which you write is completely flexible.

My journaling style has definitely evolved over time, particularly with the frequency of my entries. When I was in elementary and junior high I wrote almost weekly. When I was in college I wrote three times a year. Looking back at my sparse college entries, I wish I had written more often to capture more memories. Now, I try to write bi-monthly in my narrative journal and weekly in my creative journal. 

Are there any other avid journalers out there? Or maybe I’ve inspired you to start one? It’s never too late to start! Either way, I’d love to hear your take on journaling. Tell me in your comments below!

Text pictop: Francesca’s
chino shorts: J. Crew Factory
shoes: Target
marble notebook: Erin Condren
floral notebook: Erin Condren
cactus journal: Erin Condren

Thank you, Erin Condren for collaborating with me on this post

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16 Replies to “Why I Journal”

  1. Hi Jen! Great post. I started keeping a journal in my 20’s especially when I travelled. I would write everything from the weather of the day to what I ate and how I felt. I find that it’s not just going back and reading what you’ve wrote that is great about this process, its also sitting with your thoughts, evaluating and processing them. We are always on the go, our minds in a million different places, the time set aside for this practice allows us some alone time with ourselves.

    1. Thanks, Erica! That’s so great that you found a method of journaling that works for you and I’m happy you believe in the benefits of journaling too! Isn’t is so rewarding?!

  2. What I nice post! I love the story about the Hello Kitty diary haha 😉
    Writing is something so therapeutic! That is actually why I started my blog. It is such a cool way of letting go and being creative.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Love from Austria,
    Theresa

    1. Totally agree. I think probably most bloggers journal as well because writing is so therapeutic in both forms!

  3. I adore journaling! From calming the monkey mind to setting real clear intention and strategy for the day. It’s like magic!

  4. JENN! I just love you! My three kids would just worship you! You are so beautiful and wonderful! I began journaling in my teenage years and it was a saving grace for me! I still do it and make it a goal at least to write once a week! I love this post and it is inspiring me to keep at it — even though I feel busy for it. This is why it I need it — it slows me down and makes me appreciate all my blessings and trials in my life!
    xo Debbie | http://www.tothineownstylebetrue.com

    1. Hehe! I would love to meet the kiddos some day! They are absolutely adorable. So happy to hear that you love the benefits of journaling too. Love ya, Debbie! <3

  5. Journaling is essential to self growth (in my opinion 😉) and such a wonderful gift to return to after years past.

  6. Can we talk about how you were the cutest little devil, though! Those pigtails are everything!

    “I had to rip out some pages and now it looks ugly” had me in giggles. But I remember doing the same thing when I was younger!

    I’ve come to find that reflecting on feelings and experiences that I’ve journaled about have made for some pretty funny throwback moments when I decide to read over them again. My trick is to come back to what I wrote at least a year later so that I’ve grown/changed enough to be able to appreciate how far I’ve come.

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us! <3

  7. Oh my gosh I absolutely love this post! You have amazing writing skills—I could have kept on reading more! Girl—you need a job doing this!! ❤️❤️ Thanks for sharing!!

  8. I found this so inspirational I really need to start journaling again!

  9. You are one cute little devil for stealing your sister’s diary 😉 Iol It made me laugh! I used to write a diary when I was a child, it was fun! I did write a journal on and off when I was in my 20’s. Now I just love blogging❤️

  10. Really good babe! And how cool is it that you still had your journal writing when you were a kid. It was such a cute journal writing too. I need to invest more time into the journals I have and this may have just inspired me to do so. And great photos by the way.

    Xoxo
    http://www.stylemefancy.com

  11. I LOVE journaling. I go through periods of doing it and then stopping. Having kids has definitely made me have a dry spout, but I’m always so much happier and calmer when I can get my emotions out on a page and write a prayer or just whatever is on my heart at the moment. You’ve inspired me to pick my pen back up…and grab one of those cute journals!

    xx Kristina

    http://www.dearnovemberdays.com

  12. You are so funny and that first entry you wrote when you were 7 was hilarious! I have a creative journal and I also have one where I write down 3 things I’m grateful for every day, helps to keep life in perspective:)

  13. Such great journaling tips. I love to keep a journal too. Such a great way to get out your emotions and save beautiful memories. I had almost the same Hello Kitty diary as your sister when I was little. And I loved it.

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