How To Journal The Right Way: A Simple Guide

How To Journal The Right Way: A Simple Guide

The self-help community, the internet and all books you’ll ever read often dive too deep into systems and processes. So do I. Guilty as charged. That said, here’s how to embrace the activity than the process.

No time? Listen to it instead

If you go to Medium today and search for the word “journal”, you get an endless list of articles on giving you the correct way to do it. So, over the past few months, I read some of these, cherry-picking them. I also talked to my friends about journaling, and I found there to be two types of people who journal.

The first were the people who followed a set of rules (backed by science, of course) on how to make the most of their journaling activity. They believe it makes them more mindful, productive, and other related adjectives. The second was a minority, and their method works: just do it.

After going through countless articles and talking to more people, I have compiled the perfect method to journal. It is perhaps the most nuanced method of journaling because it does not make sense to most people, and yet, it is the only way to journal.

I call it:

Fuck Everything and Scribble Away

On Medium, the articles are split between two different questions: The How and The Why. The Why articles are fine since they only go into the benefits of keeping a journal. Still, they tend to overstep the line sometimes too. The How articles are the grossly misguided ones.

Journaling is an activity of reflection. A person’s bullet points might work for them, but it only works for them. Sure, prompts and guidelines help, but there isn’t one silver bullet (pun intended) method for journaling.

You pick up a journal (or an app), and you start scribbling. You write ideas, thoughts, anything that comes to mind, and that is it. With time, you make a system that works for you by taking in different ideas. Still, any pseudoscience based on a survey of 50 people cannot conclude what the right way to journal is, and it shouldn’t even try.

That is the core of the Fuck Everything and Scribble Away method but don’t take my word for it. Try it for yourself.

The goal of an activity such as journaling is to help you reflect and be in the moment. If you add a thousand rules on it, it becomes a chore. A chore is like the dishes, and you get cramped up in the pandora’s box of the process.

The same goes for reading, playing, painting and whatnot. There are no correct ways to do anything. It’s all just commercial bullshit and people trying to act as if they know shit, but they don’t.

My point is that there is no correct way to journal. By extension, there is no proper way for any activity that makes you more mindful or reflective or just brings you peace.

The internet is stupidly overflowing with these articles because it tends to take everything too seriously – almost always in the wrong way.

An Anecdote

The reason I decided to put this out was that I started journaling last year. I was excited because it was something I had stopped doing and had picked up again. It was fun, too. Then, I came across the correct ways to do it in forms of people, and podcasts, and articles. Soon, it became a task I had to do every day. Then, I stopped.

Lately, I’ve learned to pick up a notebook when I have the urge, I scribble in all directions. Sometimes, I write a vague sentence and stop. Sometimes, I make bullet points. There’s a picture of an eagle I’ve (very inaccurately) sketched and written the words “Eagle” on the page. It’s as cryptic as it gets to the point that I forgot what it was about. The other day when I was flipping pages, I remembered what it was about as soon as I saw it. I have the Instagram-vignette piece ready already.

It works because it is not a task or a chore. It’s expression. It’s natural. It flows. It adds to every single benefit the Why articles on Medium talk about.  In fact, I’ve realised, authentic journaling – you know, the one that all the pieces talk about – doesn’t work for me at all.

So, it is crucial to evaluate what works for you and draw the line. Your goal is simple. You want to pick up an activity. You pick it up, try it, gather knowledge, and keep doing it how you do it. Don’t like it anymore? Stop. You’re not losing the benefits. Just do what brings you joy and makes you happy.

There’s no key to being mindful. Being mindful is the key to being mindful. So, it’s essential to be aware of what we do and how we do it.  Sure, we should follow good advice but if the good advice stands between us doing something and not, we choose the thing against the process. It should be as simple as that. The process is not important; the activity is what’s crucial.

The Nudge

Any set of rules too sure of themselves, no matter how effective, can take away the natural expression from an activity. So, the next time you stumble on a right or effective way to do something you already do: raise your hands, start running, and scream, “fuck you, I’ll do it my way!” as you disappear into the distance. Once you’re far enough, sit down, and do your thing. There are no correct methods.

Original Featured Photo by Freddy Castro on Unsplash

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