Category Archives: Journaling Tips

Is Journaling Too Much For A Freelance Writer?

a guest post, by Lily Wilson
Girl Writing In Note BookA dear friend proposed an experiment: maintain a journal for one month and notice what changes in my life. I remember rolling my eyes. I reminded her why I had chosen to be a freelance writer: To be my own boss, to write on my own schedule, and besides who needs journaling when you write everyday anyway? But she insisted that journal-writing is something wholly different. In the end, I was intrigued to find out if I could do this, and whether it would affect my life in a positive way.

Where I Ended Up

Heal Thyself
I was going through a rough patch when I started this experiment and I suspect that was one of the reasons my friend wanted me to do this. Keeping a journal did not make my problems go away. But it did make me see my problems more clearly. I’ll admit, I didn’t write in the journal every day. Work and other issues kept me from that, however, going back to reading the previous entries became a habit. Reading what I’d written at that particular moment helped me digest it later. I realized what was troubling me and that helped me heal.

Know Better
When I began, I skipped details and important stuff, opting to write about the mundane and getting the chore done as quickly as I could. When I kept writing, however, these details started ending in the journal. Little things that bothered me and ruined my mood without warning became part of the entry, as I described my day. It helped me to get to know myself and I could better avoid the stuff that wasn’t good for me.

Bird’s Eye View
While writing what you feel in that particular moment, it also increases your chances of coming back to revisit that feeling. You take out time from a very busy life to slow down and just observe what you wrote. This makes you realize that other people were also involved in the situation, and that they may have a perspective different than yours. Pausing to consider someone else’s point of view is a lesson in patience and you end up broadening your vision. Next time you could very well decide to pause to consider how your actions are affecting others before you act on them.

Worth Living
If I ever felt that my life was not interesting enough, journaling has certainly changed my mind. When I read about my past, about things that I had forgotten about, it reminds me that I have been living a very interesting life. It could only get better, as I continue to move on, right? If you are down on yourself often, keeping a journal will help you realize things you once knew but have forgotten. I already had depth in my life; journaling just helped me find it again!

From Patient to Patience!
For as long as I can remember, I have been a hothead. Once my temper flares, there is nothing that can turn the dial back down. Reading about my reaction to a situation that had angered me in the past aids me to reflect upon it. By removing myself from the equation, I can compare what I should have done with what I did. A lifetime of being angry does not go away with one journal entry; I still get angry, but now it is manageable. Like I said, a journal is not a magic wand that you can wave around but it does help you see the way.

How You Can Start

I know maintaining a journal seems like a daunting task but if I can do it, you can too. Still undecided? Here are some ways that will help you get started:

  • Start with a playlist of songs. As you listen to them one by one, simply record how each made you feel or what they reminded you of.
  • Start by drawing self-portraits. Take pictures, draw, color, create as you go along.
  • Start with a list of your favorite quotes. Add to them daily or weekly. Include how they you make feel and why they are your favorites.
  • Start with the obvious. Simply stating the highlights of each day, where you live, what you like, can get you on the bandwagon.

Once you get into the habit of writing, you can move to deeper waters.

About the Author

Lily Wilson is a 34 year-old homestay freelance academic writer. Lily runs her personal blog AnAwfulLotofWriting and works as a contributing academic writer at

101 Reasons Book Image

What Starting a Website on Journaling Taught Me About Journaling

CreativeCommons by gnuckx

CreativeCommons by gnuckx

Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish, feed him for a lifetime.
(Have the guy start a fishing school and… well…!)

It’s been almost three years since I started Easy Journaling. And the reason I want to share about the lessons I’ve learned is because they’ve been surprising. In the beginning it was simply a blog where I reviewed the best iPhone journaling apps I could find. It quickly evolved to include all platforms, as well as the best methods for keeping a journal digitally. Modern Journaling was the first guide on keeping a journal digitally.  Later, 101 Reasons to Write a Journal and other books were added to help readers get the most out of their personal journal writing.

I had done most of the writing and tutorials, but what’s interesting is that nobody on the Easy Journaling team has learned more than I have. Without question, the best part of the entire EJ project has been the community that has evolved and the friendships that have been made. Both with journal-writers who have similar websites, as well as others who found the site by seeking the best journal app. I have taught everything I know on the subject, and yet the community has consistently given me the best tips and recommendations. The readers of EJ have also been generous whenever I made mistakes, and helped me fill in the gaps when my research was not complete.

As I look at how my personal journaling over these past three years, one thing is clear: my style has evolved. When I first started EJ, my journaling typically subsisted of short, occasional posts sent from my phone. Now, my journaling is a multi-faceted strategy including journal entries from my phone, computer, and recycled content I first create elsewhere on the web (social media, blog posts, emails…)

101 Reasons Book ImageAlso, reading old journal entries has become a streamlined process. Since I have used several different journal applications on a consistent basis (someone had to test them, right?) I now have content on a variety of platforms. Yes, I always make PDF backups, but there are a few features that I have really learned to enjoy from specific journaling services. Specifically, Penzu and Everyday Timeline have proved to be very benificial as they consistently email me old entries and content from my past. Every day when I open my email inbox I get a new mini-blast reminder of how my life was, anywhere from one to five years ago.

Everything I write is now more secure and always backed up. I never use journals without passwords, and I don’t rely on the developer to guard my data for life. PDF export has become my method of choice for safeguarding my journal, and I now have a journal vault with a half dozen PDFs containing the best parts of my life.

If I had to summarize my current journaling experience down to one word I would say “peace”. I am at peace with how much and how often I journal. I am at peace knowing that this side of the apocalypse, my journals are secure and backed up. I am at peace knowing I have helped many others achieve similar levels of peace.

I wish this kind of peace for everyone in their journaling practice. Nathan is a great guide, and I know he’d like you to check out Easy Journaling as well.


The Voice You Crave To Hear

life-becomes-easier-inspirationa-inspiring-short-quotes-sayings-when-learn-accept-apology-never-got-picture-wallpaperGandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” It’s a beautiful reminder that an effective way to make the world better, is to behave like an example of what we expect, instead of only waiting for others to change. This quote (viewed from a completely new angle) made a huge impact on my journal-writing one night. Now I say, “You must write the voice you most crave to hear.”

I had worked a long day at the office, and I was infuriated with Amy, a coworker who always seems to be criticizing me, and not understanding my best intentions. I was tired of her arrogance, her lack of compassion. I began the journal entry with lots of terse, frustrating comments. And even though it felt somewhat satisfying to vent my anger, I realized that I could go on and on writing nasty things about Amy, without really making any difference in the situation … or, more importantly, for myself.

I realized that if I wanted a good night’s sleep, and return to work the next morning feeling refreshed, and authentically complete with the situation, that I would save a lot of time if I could just identify the words I wished Amy would have said. And from there, I wrote sort of an “unsent letter” from Amy to me. Here is an excerpt:

“Nathan, I’m really sorry about the way that I treat you. I don’t mean to be rude, and you know that I put a lot of pressure on myself when it comes to my job. I know this sounds crazy, but most of the time I’m talking with people, I feel as if they are just wasting my time. I have so little patience, even with myself, and this is probably an issue I’ll have to deal with at some point in my life. I don’t mean any disrespect to you personally. You have so many great ideas, and I know that you are very good in your work. But honestly, I struggle to find ways of complimenting people. It just doesn’t come naturally to me. When I pick out the flaws in what you say, even if they are only minor, it’s my only way of relating to you. I don’t expect you to like me for this. I’m sure we’ll never be great friends. Just please accept that I’m flawed, and I need tenderness but I’m simply incapable of asking for it.”

These are words that Amy would never say out loud. But having written them down, as if she were baring some innermost secret thoughts, without changing who she was, or re-writing her character, created a sense of relief for me. And the next day, though nothing changed between us, I sensed an unexpected compassion for Amy.

Give it a try sometime. If you find you have some unfinished business with someone, here are some guidelines for an exercise in “Writing The Voice You Crave To Hear” from them:

  1. Open your journal to a clean page. Write the date, and the person’s name.
  2. Be still and spend a quiet moment to mentally go back to a situation with that person which left you feeling sad, incomplete, angry, dismissed, or uneasy. Write down just a brief summary of the situation, and a few words that express those negative feelings.
  3. Now listen for any words that you wish that person could say to you. Imagine that they knew everything that you know: how their actions have impacted you, how you’re feeling. Write down what you’d love to hear from that person. An explanation? An apology? The exercise works best if you write it in their words, and from their perspective.
  4. Close with gratitude. Write them back a short note to thank them for sharing this secret.

If you find this useful, I’d love to hear how it has helped. In closing, I am reminded of a quote by Robert Brault: “Life becomes easier when you learn to accept an apology that you never got.”

Journaling is a Process, not a Product

Journaling TipsWhen I first started journaling, I remember challenging myself to fill up a notebook as quickly as I could. I numbered each journal with consecutive digits; and just like graduating to the next grade-level in school, I felt a secret pride that I had made it to the next number!

I remember making it my goal to write for a whole year, 365 days consecutive, without skipping a single day (that was 1989, and I accomplished that goal)!

Sometimes little games like this help keep me journaling during a dry spell. After all, a little competition (even with one’s self) can offer just the motivation one needs to keep on writing.

But over the years, I can see that journal-writing as a practice has benefits far broader than just “making it to the next notebook”:

Journaling helps me keep my focus on things that matter to me. Even if my days are filled with errands and obligations, journaling helps me keep making baby-steps of progress on my goals.

Journaling helps me identify what my true feelings are, and where they are coming from, everything from jealousy to ambition. When our feelings are misunderstood or misplaced, it can be confusing and frustrating that we act in ways we can’t explain. Knowing myself helps me to have compassion for myself, and allows me to grow.

All of these great benefits, and more, are not something that can be guaranteed in 30 days, or in 100 pages of writing. The impact of journaling cannot be measured in the number of words or entries one has written. Journaling is not a product that we produce. It is a method for the accounting of one’s life. It is a process that takes time for exploration and discovery.

And like any process that takes time, little games and arbitrary measurements (“Look! I’m on my 208th notebook!”) can help us stay on course when the process gets challenging.

Journaling as a Practice in Mindfulness

Journaling and MeditationJournaling is often compared to the habit of meditation. Many journal-writers report receiving the same benefits as those who practice meditation on a regular basis: Stress relief, an increased ability to focus, self-understanding, awareness of inner dialogue, and clarity of thought, to name a few. Here’s a simple exercise you can try as a journaling meditation:

  1. Start by opening to a fresh clean page in your journal. While taking a deep breath to begin, take a moment to notice and appreciate the empty page.
  2. Rest the tip of your pen onto the page, and select a simple first word or phrase to become a focus during your meditation. Write the word(s) slowly.
  3. Allow your pen to move gently; watch the ink get absorbed onto the page. While you continue selecting thoughts or phrases, don’t worry if they are not full sentences. Simply allow yourself to drop your thoughts, one phrase at a time, as if they are being caught in a net.
  4. If there is a pause, or a moment between words, take the opportunity to reconnect with your breath. Notice your inhale and exhale. Let your attention rest on the tip of your pen, allowing it to pull out the next word for you. Allow your pen to move, as if holding the cursor of a Ouija board, channeling wisdom from you inner spirit.

There are times when journaling can be soothing and relaxing. Just as journaling can raise new ideas and creativity, it can also be used to quiet the mind. Instead of only focusing our journal-writing on all the chatter in our heads, an exercise like this one can help to move into a calm state. Sometimes poetry will leak onto the page using this technique.

Journal-To-The-Self Workshop

Journal to the SelfJust as there are a variety of writing styles (historical fiction, poetry, memoir, screenplay) there are also various techniques of journal-writing. Here are just a few:

gratitude practice can help you focus on the things that fuel you, and to remember that the small gifts in life are often the most precious.  Lisa Ryan is one expert in this technique who recently shared some tips for this style of journaling on JournalTalk.

Creating Lists of 100 can be a very fun (and informative!) method to organize and categorize your thoughts. You might surprise yourself what you learn from naming 100 items on a given topic.

The Unsent Letter is one of the most powerful healing tools for situations where you feel stuck, anxious, unheard, or where there is a need for forgiveness or grieving.  I have a very special JournalTalk episode planned with an example of the power of the Unsent Letter coming soon!

All of these techniques, and over a dozen more, will be the subject of my next journaling workshop, called Journal To The Self.  We’ll be taking time to explore each technique in detail, and learn new ways of connecting with ourselves. While it is intended for beginning journal-writers, it has also provided tools for those more experienced to deepen their journaling practice.

This workshop is based on the book with the same title, by Kathleen Adams. The tuition for this workshop ($120.00 US) includes the cost of a helpful workbook that is designed to complement the assignments.  We meet for 90 minutes per week, by telephone conference, each Sunday starting April 6th, with the exception of Easter and Mother’s Day.

The “One Thing” About Journaling

journaling tips, journalingWhile designing a journaling workshop, I often ask myself, “What’s the one thing that I want people to take away from this session?” It’s a technique I learned from my days in instructional design training. I’ve also heard Pat Flynn, Michael Hyatt, and other contemporary coaches offer this suggestion to bloggers and podcasters who are preparing content for their audience. This question has served me well, and always helps me focus on one important theme, around which I can decorate with supporting examples and exercises. It keeps my journaling workshops engaging and poignant.

But recently I’ve noticed something. When I think of the one thing I want people to come away with, it’s almost always the same thing every time.  Whether I’m preparing for a journaling workshop, or podcast episode, or blog post I’m working on.

I’m taking this as a sign.

I think it means that maybe there’s just one thing that I want you to know about journaling. Perhaps I’m realizing that there’s really One Thing that best summarizes a good journaling practice. The One Thing that explains all the wisdom in all the workshops and books on the subject is: Learn to Get Real with Yourself.

Journaling coaches and therapists around the globe have offered all kinds of stylistic trainings and motivation on journal-keeping. There are hundreds of resources, books, workshops, theories, and prompts to help inspire you toward your best writing. But perhaps this one principle, if mastered, will make all the other tips and techniques unnecessary.  Just spend some time “getting real” with yourself.

Neither tips, nor prompts, nor fancy pens, nor crafty notebooks, nor all the software features in the world can make an ounce of difference in the quality of my journal-writing if I’m not willing to open up and be completely honest with myself.

We are masters at spinning information, juggling with people’s perceptions, dancing with both our ego and our soul, choosing which is nobler between two goods, such as telling the truth or preserving the peace. We put on a smile at work, even though we are exhausted and the customer is unfair. We quiet our kids’ persistent unanswerable questions with harmless white lies to get through the day, knowing they’ll understand more when their time comes. We blend in, we strategize the best refund, we find a silver lining, we point to our good intentions to explain our thoughtless mistakes. There are millions of ways that we shift and warp reality, and they are all for good reasons. But in our journals, it’s time to get real.

And, unfortunately, getting real with one’s self is nothing that I (or anyone) can teach you in a workshop or a book. It’s simply calling a spade a spade. It’s acknowledging both sides of an argument. It’s facing whatever fears are blocking our courage. It’s being secure in our insecurities. It’s making time to celebrate the small accomplishments. It’s recognizing the value of our contributions to the world. It’s forgiving. It’s making peace with why it’s sometimes so hard to forgive. It’s getting clear about who we are and where we want to be. It’s stating our truth, however inconvenient. It’s wrestling with our convictions, and untangling old systems of thought that no longer serve us.

If there’s one thing I would like to teach the world about journaling, it’s that journaling is the best place to get real with ourselves. And if we can get real in our journal, we can face ourselves in the mirror. And once we are acquainted with ourselves, can we truly know the whole world.

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle

“Know thyself and everything else will be revealed.” ― Pamela Theresa Loertscher


Image: By damianosullivan (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0

Ten Journaling Prompts for Self Love

Guest post by Carrie Leigh Sandoval

Journaling is an act of self love. Each time you choose to explore your inner reality, you are sending a powerful signal to your subconscious mind – “I am worth knowing.”  Many of us grew up believing it was our job to please others, to be selfless and not speak up about our opinions. This is one of the reasons I began journaling in the first place. It was the one place I could just be and feel at peace. What led you to journaling? Think about it for a moment. Then feel why it is so valuable to you.

The reason many of us start a new habit and don’t follow through with it is because we don’t feel worthy. We may say we don’t have time or energy, but the truth is, underneath all that is actually “I’m not worth the time and/or energy.”

But you are. I am too. And when we cultivate love for ourselves we give others permission to do so too. That’s how we change the world!

If you notice you’re breaking a commitment to yourself, recognize it, acknowledge it, forgive yourself and decide to do something different. You could spend the time you would have spent beating yourself up doing something more productive — like journaling! 🙂

Speaking of journaling, here are 10 prompts to fill yourself up with love:

  1. The top ten things that bring me peace are:
  2. When I am at peace with myself I feel . . .
  3. Ten ways I already show love for myself are:
  4. Ten new ideas to show myself I am worthy and deserving of love . . . (then, commit to doing at least one of these things today)
  5. I acknowledge my successes. Here are 20 things I’ve accomplished that made me feel awesome:
  6. Oops, I made a mistake. I forgive myself for:
  7. Here’s how I know I’m on the right track:
  8. Here are all the reasons I deserve love:
  9. I’m so great because…
  10. When I am feeling confident, this is how my world looks and flows:

By choosing to write on a regular basis, you are literally retraining your consciousness. Sometimes our brains resist change, but know it’s just something that happens naturally. Yet, each time you choose something different you are reprogramming your mind for success and abundance because you’re telling it – “I am worthy of love.”


CarrieSandovalCarrie is a loving momma, journaling expert, law of attraction coach and author of “Journals Have Feelings Too: A Guidebook for Writing Your Way Back to Sanity.” Her healing journey began at the age of 14 when she had nowhere else to turn, but her journal. The discoveries she made about herself during this trying time later became the fuel for her passion. She is now guiding young women and their parents to transform their beliefs about themselves and the world so that they can live confidently and joyfully.

Connect with Carrie at her website for awesome blog posts and journaling prompts + sign up for a free chapter from her book!

Why Journaling Changed My Life – by Sam Forintos

Why Journaling Changed My Life

Sam Forintos is another example of someone who began journaling because it was assigned to her by her parents . . . and hated it!  But only a few years later, realized what a magnificent, powerful, and healing tool it was for her, and has been “journaling by choice” ever since.

In this article, Sam gives five journaling “rules” (feel free to adapt or drop any that don’t work for you) that she has found most helpful in keeping her journaling inspiring and beneficial.

1. Only write when you want to.
2. Be honest.
3. NEVER, EVER write bad things about yourself or other people.
4. Don’t write anything you’ll regret/be embarrassed about later.
5. Have fun with it.
Great stuff!  Thanks, Sam.

Morning Pages: The Habit of Journaling

Guest Post by Mari L. McCarthy

Mari is the first person I teamed up with when I “came public” about my desire to help people develop journal-writing skills in a meaningful way.  She has become a good friend and mentor, and I’m pleased to share with you a guest post from her describing what she’s been up to lately.  I have taken this course, and fully endorse it. Mari’s brilliant style of journal coaching is top-notch.

The Habit of Journaling

cover-ebookHow good are you at starting something new? Is it easy to begin a diet, an exercise regimen, a meditation routine? For most of us, starting any kind of new practice that promises to improve our health and happiness is extremely challenging. We want to improve, but we’re reluctant to change.

You decide, for example, that you’ll no longer waste your evenings in front of the television. You’re going to start reading books instead. You spend one or two quiet nights with a great book; but then you remember that your favorite show is on and decide to catch it one more time.

The next evening there’s a special you want to see and the next you waste on mindless sitcoms because you’re mad at your boyfriend and before you know it, you haven’t made a change at all.

It’s one thing to do an activity now and then and it’s something totally different to make it a part of your everyday life. Often we carefully follow a new routine for several days, only to blow it and go back to square one. Unless we make the new habit as common as getting dressed in the morning, as every day as eating lunch, we are not likely to reap the full benefits.

At CreateWriteNow, we are dedicated to the everyday practice of journal writing, as a lifestyle that fosters personal improvement on nearly every level. While we discuss and use many different kinds of journaling, the Morning Pages, originally introduced by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way, is one of the easiest ways to get started with a solid journal writing habit.

It’s easy, but it’s still challenging because you do have to take the initiative and begin. So we’ve developed a new course from CreateWriteNow called 12 Days of Morning Pages. You can access the course via email or in ebook format. Its tips and exercises are designed to be an easy and fun way to slide into your daily Morning Pages routine. With the help of the materials, you’ll find you have developed a powerfully healthy habit almost without trying!

# # #

MariJJDuoAvatarsmallMari L. McCarthy (also known as the Oprah of Journaling) is The Journaling Therapy Specialist, founder of Create Write Now, the Personal Growth Journaling Place. Mari offers counseling and encouragement to journal writers through her many online journaling resources, as well as private consultations. Mari’s teachings and workbooks center around journaling for self-discovery, self-growth, and self-healing. She has published nearly 20 journaling guides, exploring such topics as money, jobs, health, bereavement, personal organization, and more. Look for her 27 Days of Journaling to Health and Happiness, a course that begins this September 1st.

Journal Writing as My Medicine and Muse

A new article, Journal Writing as My Medicine and Muse, by Joan Leof was posted on  I think this excerpt expresses what many journal-writers long to hear:

“If you want to start a memoir now, you can do what I did – just go back to the journals that contain the years and the themes you want to deal with. I did not read all the journals. I did not read any books on how to harvest my journals. You may want to.

I relied more on my belief in journaling as a template for making things happen in my life. If I could make things happen in all areas of my life, as documented in my journal, then I could make my memoir happen.”

Look for an interview with Joan Leof in a JournalTalk podcast episode coming soon, “Turning Journals into Memoirs”.

100 Word “Flash Memoirs”

I used to be overwhelmed by the thought of all the work involved in piecing together the bits of my life into something interesting for the public. Characters. Plot development. Themes and sub-plots. Point of view. Do I flash-back or flash-forward? But when I learned about Flash Memoirs the story started writing itself. 

Each day, I write just one mini-story: a 100-word piece, inspired by a memory or one highlight on my timeline. Flash-Memoirs are to an autobiography what Haiku are to poetry.  Click here for an example!

Journaling Tips for Travelers

Travel Journaling: Enhance The Quality of Vacations

Going on vacation?  People have asked me if I use my vacation time to take a break from my normal journaling routine.  My answer: Absolutely not!  In fact, the very act of taking time off for travel, recreation, and rejuvenation is the BEST time for some of my most profound and memorable journaling.  If I can’t make the time for self-reflection and appreciation of life while I’m on vacation, then when will I ever?

Whether it is a weekend getaway, a short business trip, a visit to a foreign country, or a full-scale family vacation, journaling can help make the time even more valuable.  People may not realize what a great impact can be made by writing just a brief summary of each day while on any trip.  Here are just a few of the benefits.  For more in-depth tips, see below to get a free e-brochure with a list of eleven practical and simple things you can do to include your journal in your time away from home.

1.  Make richer and longer-lasting memories.  Putting your thoughts and experiences into words will certainly help you categorize and retain the memories.  Perhaps it’s because we reinforce our learning when we engage another of our senses.  But more importantly, summarizing each day’s events in your journal, affords you opportunity to accompany the events of your journey with additional layers of feelings and reflection, which make the memories ever more meaningful.

2.  Appreciate the finer details of the vacation.  Journaling is mostly about noticing.  Once you are in the mindset of taking notice of the simple things during your travels, you will become more aware of the sweet, often overlooked, details that add color and interest to any adventure.

3.  Relive the vacation again and again.  Coming back to re-read your travel journals will revive delightful memories and insights.  While photos capture scenery and serve as great reminders, journaling adds context and texture to those images.  Over the years, my best writings have come from revisiting and rewriting some of the private observations I’ve made while travelling.

You might also be interested in hearing other journaling experts discuss the finer points of traveling with a journal: Lavinia Spalding, and coming soon, Leon Logothetis.

For a free e-brochure, “Tips for Travel Journaling”, simply post a comment below with “Send me your Travel Journaling Tips” or something similar, and I will send it to you.