This article is posted with permission from Saffron & SageWritten by Cristin Smith / Photos by Kyle Miyamoto.

I’m not going to lie. I haven’t always maintained consistent entries in my journal. As a Spiritual Director, you’d imagine that journaling would be a breeze for me or that I’m some sort of master journal-keeper. Well, you would be wrong. I would buy a pretty, new notebook and think about how this time would be different. This time, I would start a journal and keep up the habit. And then after a few days, the journal would be locked away in a drawer somewhere with only two entries. I’d fail again. 

But, there’s hope for us who so badly want to document our daily thoughts and experiences for later reminiscence. Follow these few simple steps for a more successful journaling journey. 

1. Start Simple

Journaling isn’t about writing deep, exciting prose about your everyday life. It isn’t even always about the act of documenting life either. The practice of journaling makes us pause and reflect on our lives and that’s what makes it such a valuable experience for so many. It can be an incredibly healing experience for some or it can just help us get in touch with our daily emotions and thoughts. 

Rid yourself of expectations when it comes to journaling. You don’t have to write a mind-blowing novel. Start small. Write a few sentences each day about whatever comes to mind. Or, write one high and one low each day. Another easy way to begin journaling is to follow a gratitude challenge. Try out our challenge below or simply write about one thing you’re thankful for each day. Find something simple that works for you and expand from there. 

The Saffron & Sage Seven-Day Gratitude Challenge: 

Day 1- List three people who have made a positive impact on you and why you’re grateful to have them in your life. 
Day 2- Explain an encouraging situation you were in within the last week.
Day 3- Take a moment to appreciate your corner of the universe. Name three things you love about your home, city, state or country. 
Day 4-The human body is capable of so much. List one thing about your body that you’re proud of. 
Day 5- Write about a familial relationship that brings you joy. 
Day 6- Name a song that you delight in and explain why it makes you happy. 
Day 7- List three people you can do something nice for this week and brainstorm ways you can positively impact them. 

2.    Pick a Time and Stick To It

Busyness often keeps us from reaching our full potential in many areas of our lives, including self-care. So it’s essential to make journaling a normal part of your routine. According to the Wall Street Journal, most adults do their best cognitive work in the late mornings, while creativity is easier to harness in the late evening. Experiment with different times of day to figure out when your mind and body can best focus 5-10 minutes on journaling, and then make it a habit. 

3.    Use a Prompt

Your high school English teacher knew what she was doing. Implementing a prompt into your daily journaling habit will ease the daunting intimidation felt when staring at a blank page. But don’t feel pressured to only write about what’s on your prompt for the day. These are just designed to get you thinking. Head to our cultivate board on Pinterest and get inspired with some of our prompts. 

4.    Throw Out The Rulebook

Journaling is a personal thing that can vary from person-to-person, so keep this in mind when starting your journal. There’s no right or wrong formula to follow. The important thing is that you continue writing and reflecting on life as it happens. If that means writing a novel about what you had for breakfast, then do it. If that means writing in chicken-scratched bullet points, then go for it.