How do I start journalling?

Journalling is my first suggestion for anyone curious about writing therapy. There are lots of great reasons for keeping a journal, not least the benefits to mental and emotional wellbeing.

Below are six ideas for getting started with journalling.

(1) Find a notebook for your journalling. I always suggest 'cheap and cheerful', as this helps to keep away any perfectionist thoughts about 'spoiling' an expensive notebook with less than perfect writing (whatever 'perfect' means!). You might like to decorate the notebook in some way.

(2) I prefer to write by hand, rather than on computer, as this helps me to access a more creative, imaginative part of the brain. I suggest using whichever pen is at hand, although you might like to experiment with different colours, for example.

(3) Set a 'container' for the writing. I always suggest writing for a period of time (say three or five minutes at first as shorter lengths of time can often feel more comfortable than longer periods of writing initially) or writing a certain amount (e.g. five lines, half a page, a page).

(4) 'Freewrite' about whatever comes to mind. For me, this means keeping the pen moving across the page, not-judging anything I write, however mundane or silly it might seem. This approach helps to reduce the voice of my unhelpful inner critic which has less chance to get a word in edgeways because the pen in my hand is moving so fast.

Perhaps there is something specific you'd like to journal about, something that is bothering you or, alternatively, you might like to write about what is happening around you in your environment (e.g. the sounds you can hear).

(5) Forget about spelling, punctuation and grammar. These don't matter in your journalling practice where we're interested in the process of exploring our thoughts and feelings, rather than producing 'perfect' writing.

(6) At the end of your journalling session, place your notebook somewhere private where it won't be read by anyone else. Your journal is for your eyes only... and even you might choose not to reread what you've written.

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