I’ve always been a tit bit jealous of those who had a steady journaling practice. Not only did I envy their ability to sit down and effortlessly flow out thoughts that actually made sense, but typically (at least according to Instagram), it poured out of them with beautiful cursive handwriting. Into a perfect floral pink notebook. Without any words scratched out.
How do they do it!?
This “journal envy” is one of the things that kept me from feeling connecting to my ability to handwrite my thoughts. I consistently put pressure on myself to make it look a certain way (aka perfect) and have my thoughts concisely organized so that years later I could return to my old dust-filled books, crack them open and take a gander at some of the thoughts going through my head at the time.
First of all, thoughts are not concise.
Second of all, I most likely won’t ever want to go back into my journals (I’m a fan of letting them go once I’m done). But if I do miraculously hold onto my journals through my many moves, the last thing I’ll be picky about is how concise my thoughts were in my journal entry or how perfect my handwriting was.
With that realization, I finally put to bed all of my unrealistic expectations around how journaling is supposed to go. I realized that writing for the sake of writing was the key to letting my thoughts flow out, rather than writing for the sake of reading later (again, something I most likely won’t do).
Besides changing my expectations on journaling, I also did a few more subtle changes…
Firstly, I stopped buying only the most beautiful journals. Ones like THIS allow my thoughts to flow the best. Additionally, I use any ole pen lying around. I come from a family that loves nice pens and beautiful journals so while this all may seem very “duh,” it was quiet a revelation for me to let go of having my journaling scene be nothing less than beautiful and Instagram worthy.
So now that you’ve got your cheap pen and plain notebook, what now? Here are three journaling tools that will help you unlock those mystical thoughts you’ve got paralyzed from coming out.
1. Write lists
Who says journaling needs to be written like a story? One of my favourite ways to journal is by writing lists with bullet points—it’s clean, clear and to the point. If you’re feeling stuck on what to write about in the morning, grab any old notebook and start with a list. Your lists can be anything but some good prompts to start with include: gratitude, goals for the week/month, things that make you happy, favourite self-care tools, your friends (I borrowed this idea from my friend Britnee. We laughed because it sounds like a middle school hobby, but give it a go! It’s actually quite satisfying), movies you want to watch, current favourite songs, nourishing go-to meals, to do’s and literally anything else.
There are also nifty journals called the Bullet Journal that help create some structure around these bulleted ideas you’ve got. Check it out here.
Ahhh, my new favourite way to journal! Tarot is incredible because it pulls out whatever you already have present within, but it flows out with less effort than if you pulled your thoughts out of thin air.
If you’re unfamiliar with Tarot, I encourage you to start by listening to this episode of the Mind Body Musings Podcast with Brigit Esselmont of Biddy Tarot HERE. The next step would be to buy her book Everyday Tarot, which will teach you all about how to use your intuition to read Tarot (which makes it way more fun than simply reading the card’s description out of the book).
If you’re eager to get started NOW I can give you a simple blueprint for using your intuition when reading tarot.
It all begins with a question. Find a question that you want to ask the cards, such as “What do I need to know for this week?” or “How will I be best prepared for my upcoming date?” (Don’t ask a yes/no question. Tarot does not read the future).
Shuffle your cards, pull out one and then observe what you see. What do the colors look like? What is happening in the picture? What does the card make you feel like? What shapes do you see? Are they big or small?
Slow down and ask yourself, what does all of this tell you in regards to the question you asked? Journal on all of this.
You can then open the book that came with your cards to see what the card’s “official” meaning is, but remember that your intuition is the truest meaning of the card. Whatever you saw is what intuition is telling you deep down. That’s why I think Tarot is such an amazing tool for diving deeper into your subconscious—it gives you something to help make those inner thoughts so much more accessible!
3. Let it Out
My last tool is slightly cheating because it’s something like 350 tools into one. My good friend and colleague Katie Dalebout is such a journaling fanatic that she wrote an entire book on journaling. Inside of Let it Out is every journaling prompt you could possible desire as you begin your journaling routine. When I was first decided that I wanted to start journaling more, I started with the easiest place I knew—my phone.
I’d open my Evernote app and jot down thoughts as they came to me. As simple as that!
And if I had something more personal // deep to write about, I’d open my journaling app (DayOne) and text out my thoughts.
Remember, journaling has no one right way. If you’re “letting it out” as Katie would say, YOU ARE JOURNALING!
Take the pressure off yourself to do it one particular way and simply let yourself write. Put pen to paper or fingers to phone…either way, you’re doing something beautiful by spending time with your thoughts.
I’m curious, what is your favourite way to journal? Share your tools below, or let me know if you love one of the three I’ve listed here!