When a client says to me, "What should I do about xyz issue?" I usually respond with, "I'd love to help you answer that question, but I'll need to ask you a few questions before I can answer that." That's because there's rarely a one-size-fits-all solution to any issue, challenge, problem, or area of change. The best way to find a custom-fit solution, one that is personally tailored for a client's unique context, is to learn as much as possible not only about the issue, but about the client's strengths, tendencies, resources and opportunities.
Similarly, if you were here with me right now and you asked me, "Laurie, how should I go about starting or growing my journal practice?"
I'd say, "I'd love to help you answer that question, but I'll need to ask you a few questions before I can answer that."
Journaling is such a great tool to use to understand yourself, support yourself, and nurture yourself toward a better future. You'll be so glad you have it on hand once you get the hang of it. But here's the thing--journaling is deceptively simple to start (just write something anywhere!), but it often takes more effort, intention, and practice than you might expect for it to become a sustainable, consistent, reliable habit.
And because we're all unique people living in unique circumstances, there's no one-size-fits-all pathway to a meaningful journal practice.
There is, however, a fairly universal process that can help you learn more about what might be most likely to work for you as you start or grow your journal practice, and that's a process of self-assessment that can help you take inventory of the variables that may impact your journaling. Knowing yourself, knowing what works for you, knowing what limitations you are likely to encounter--these are all important pieces of data to draw upon as you create and shape a journal practice that works for you.
Take a few minutes to read through this list of ten quick self-assessment questions. It may be helpful to jot down your responses, but you can simply make mental notes if you don't have pen and paper handy right now:
If these questions spark other self-assessment questions, go ahead and ask yourself whatever else comes to mind. The more you engage this process of self-assessment, the more guidance you'll have on hand to help you along your journal practice pathway.
Now that you’ve given some thought to the areas above, here are two more questions to ask yourself (they make great journal prompts, too!):
Whatever steps you take from here, remember it's okay to take it one day at a time, one word at a time. It's going to take some trial and error to find your footing with journaling, so give yourself permission to start imperfectly and to make some mistakes along the way. This list of questions and this process of self-assessment is here for you, anytime you need it as you keep experimenting, learning, and refining your unique journal practice.
Need more help getting started? Check out my mini-course, Start Journaling!, it will hold your hand as you start journaling with ten whole days of inspiration and easy-to-implement instructions.
Hi there, I'm Laurie, a private practice therapist and an avid journaler. I write about the intersection between journaling and therapy, helping you cultivate greater emotional and relational wellness via journaling pathways filled with self-compassion, self-nurture, self-discovery, & self-trust.