This morning I finished another journal and I figured this would be a good time for a PSA to express how much journaling can change your life and your ways of thinking if you're a musician, artist, or creative person.
Everyone uses journals differently and I think sometimes people are put off by it because it can seem too regimented or perfect or hard to keep up with depending on what your idea of journaling is. A huge takeaway from James Clear’s Atomic Habits is the fact that habits need to be sustainable in order to keep them. You have to find a way that works best for you in order to stick with it and see the results.
Here’s how I journal and I share this not because it matters specifically what I do, but because I hope it will help someone else get started. Almost every morning (or afternoon) I write the date and start blabbing away. I do a mix of stream of consciousness, what kinds of things I want to accomplish or projects I want to start, what I’m freaking out about, and anything else on my mind that I’m ruminating about.
If I’ve written down specific goals, I might try to write down what needs to get done to make that happen, every single step I can think of. If I’m bugging out, I write out all of my thoughts so that I either get bored of my brain and stop caring about the thing that was worrying me, or actually unpack why I’m thinking what I’m thinking. And then I finish off with a bunch of affirmations. Affirmations seem really dumb if you’ve never used them before, but I promise you that it’s worth flooding your brain with love.
When I’ve been at my most anxious, I’ve taken scrap paper (the back of junk mail and old school worksheets) and scribbled as much as I can possibly muster until the sheet is full and then ripped it up so I didn’t have to see it again. This is especially great to start if you consider yourself a perfectionist and you don’t want to “ruin” a nice journal (which you won’t, but if it’s holding you back from starting, this is the way).
If you don’t know where to start, you can take any direction you want.
Here are some journaling prompts and ideas to get started:
Write for either a set amount of pages (1-3 pages) or time (5-30 minutes)
Stream of consciousness writing (no filter - write literally whatever’s on your mind)
Use a really fancy journal if that would make the it feel special, or a plain notebook, scrap paper, etc.
Follow specific prompts related to what you want to uncover
Gratitude: 3-5 sentences about NEW things everyday
Ask yourself questions. What do you want? What do you need? What's getting in your way?
The amount of stuff I’ve uncovered about myself just from writing it out is wild and I would not be where I am today if I didn’t spend the time to ask myself what I actually want and value. The thoughts you see popping up again and again will make it so much easier to take action so you aren’t stuck in your head, and the amount of self awareness you gain brings so much clarity to what you’re doing.
If you're a flutist or musician, do you know what direction you're heading in your career? What do you need to do to get there, or what's getting in your way?
Do you journal? What has it helped you discover?