Some years back when I was still in school, I began a habit that changed my life.
I’m talking about journaling. Writing in a journal every single day.
At first it stared off only as a whim. I would do it only when I had something particular on my mind that I wished to expand upon. These experiments went well always and reliably.
So I began to do it every single day.
Now, four years later, I have filled up six journals cover to cover with writing. That’s a few novels worth of material. I’ve always used Moleskin journals because they are minimalist and clean, without any frills.
Each one is 240 pages, and with the size of my handwriting, I can fit in just over 500 words per page. I usually fill up one full page per day; sometimes I’ll write two or three pages. It varies, but I have come to never miss a day of journaling.
500 words per day is 3500 per week, which comes out to 182,000 words per year. A typical fiction novel usually lands between 70,000 words and 90,000 words — in other words, one page a day in a journal is equivalent in length to a couple novels of average length.
Writing is, fundamentally, a means of thinking on paper. Piecing words together happens perpetually within our minds, but extracting those words and cementing them in reality happens only when we write them down.
This is what makes journaling each day so beneficial. Placing your thoughts on paper and being able to reread them back, tangible manifestations of your thinking right there before your eyes.
It is difficult to think clearly, but writing in a journal helps you process thoughts and expunge ideas that have been buried in your mind. The words and thoughts that were once jumbled and cluttered in your vacuous mind can become reflections on paper to ponder over.
Keeping a journal is one way to add to your creative process as well. Try to sit down and write for 10 minutes without thinking about it. Just let the words fall out of your pen. See what happens.
This allows you to write whatever you want, whatever happens to be on your mind in that moment. It provides a landscape to paint over freely, without reservation or hesitation.
If you provide yourself with a prompt each day it may begin to feel like a chore as if you had to answer questions or answer to someone else. I always write freely and, in a way, unconsciously. My words are not premeditated and usually I can surprise myself with what comes out on paper.
Sometimes I write about my day or the day prior; sometimes I write about things I’d like to do or things I’d not like to do; sometimes I write about the things I am grateful for.
The beauty is that there are no rules.
It is therapeutic and cathartic to simply let your mind wander and create words and ideas and notions. Rarely do we get this opportunity in day to day life; a journal provides ultimate intellectual freedom.
In ten minutes per day, you can achieve a clarity and mental placidity that would otherwise be unattainable. Producing words on paper with such regularity also leads to a higher verbal ability, articulation, and vocabulary.
The habit is as intelligent as it is calming.
Start writing in a journal each morning when you wake up and you will begin each day productively, therapeutically, and intelligently.