This is the ‘sixth’ instalment of a 7 part series. This Series is called “A Beginners Crash Course on Journalling”. I will be talking about the ins and outs of journalling from all the information I have gathered from my extensive research and my experience so far. When I was originally writing this, it was just going to be one post…but I just had so much to say and the post got longer and longer. So, I thought it was best to break it up for you…and turn it into a mini ‘Crash Course’.
When you begin journalling you may run into some challenges along the way till you find your feet…till you find what works for you and what doesn’t.
Here, I have listed a few common challenges that almost everyone bumps into at some stage…that I feel is important to address and be aware of before you get started;
Fear of the blank page
So you go out and buy yourself a lovely new journal and the perfect pen…you’re all ready to jump in… then you open the book. Your mind suddenly becomes as blank as the page. You don’t want to ruin the clean white page in your lovely new journal…what if you make a mistake!
I found an article on what the actual right term for this phobia is, it is called… Atelodemiourgiopapyrophobia! Click here to give it a read.
Remember, in part one of this series – where I told you my story? My first journal was a fail because of this…I did eventually write in it (after weeks of procrastination) but…I needed everything to be perfect in it. It wasn’t till I picked up an old scraggly notebook that had already been wrote in (and that I wasn’t bothered about ruining) that I actually let loose and spilled my heart. The fear of making a mistake in my book was holding me back from actually getting any benefit out of journalling. My fear was causing me more anxiety then I was already experiencing…putting extra stress on to me that I could of avoided.
You need to understand that your journal is yours…it is your creative place, your happy place – where you can go and express yourself…fully! Mistakes and all! A journal is a tool you use to overcome anxiety…not to course you more. Every spelling mistake, every scribble and every ink blot is a reflection of you…of who you are. Let yourself be free, give yourself a break and just write.
Here are some tips to help you overcome… ‘Atelodemiourgiopapyrophobia’!
- Miss the first page all together…go straight the second page. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Yet, it can be effective. Sometimes it is just the feeling…that if you make a mistake on that first page it will be the first thing you look as every time you open it. So just miss it out!
- Just scribble right onto it…SCARY! Yes, you did hear me right. Just open the book and scribble right onto the first page…now that you have ruined it, there is no more need to be scared.
- Glue a picture in…of yourself, of someone you love, a magazine clipping. Anything! Stick something that makes you happy…so every time you open it, you get a happy feeling.
- Draw a picture – do some doddle’s or just colour in the whole page.
- Just write…just push through the fear and start writing. Write anything! Write… ‘This lovely white blank page is scaring me because….’ Or ‘Hello, my name is BLANK and this is the first page of my lovely new journal, I have decided to start journaling because…..’
Not knowing what to write
So you overcome the fear of the white blank page, you have made marks in your journal…now you’re ready to write! Or are you? You had so much you thought you wanted to write but now, you can not think of a single thing.
When this happens to me…all I can think of writing is ‘Hello, my name is Rachel’ LOL. And nothing else, honestly, I am surprised I can even remember my name…or even think in English. The struggle is real…I know it is because I have felt it.
But don’t give up yet…I have a few tips to work through this;
- Use journalling prompts – there are so many out there on the internet it won’t be hard to find some. You can search for prompts that help you reflect on a certain area of your life that you may need to reflect on. Check out mine…you can download the PDF’s and print them off instantly.
- Brain Dump – if you have read my past posts you will know I love a good old brain dump…so much, I even wrote a post about it. Click here if you would like to read.
- Make a list – make a list of anything that is on your mind. You could recall your day in bullet point form or make a list of your favourite movies.
- Create your own questions – sometimes we find it hard to write because we don’t know where to start. So make it like a conversation with yourself. For example; What have you done today? “Well, today has been really hard because…..” then you can ask yourself another question when you run dry again. What would have made my day better? If you could start over you day again, what would you do differently? Etc.
- Date and title your page – I always date my entries…sometimes I even write the time down if I have wrote in it more than once a day. But sometimes, what helps me, when I go to my journal to work through a certain situation that I have is to… title it, to keep me on track. For example; recently my daughter has been having trouble at school and when I need to reflect on things…I will open my journal and title it ‘My Daughter’s Name’. Then I have something to work from.
Too much to write (not knowing where to start)
Now…that you have got your words flowing. What can happen next is, that they start flowing faster and faster and start flooding you. You have so much to write and you can’t get them out your head fast enough but you are afraid they will dry up or you will forget them if you don’t get them all down right away.
This can be very frustrating and happens to me a lot. Everyone has more than one thing going on in their life at any one time…so you can often become overwhelmed with which one to begin with or which one is the most important.
This is what I do when this happens to me;
- Write a list – I write down everything that I want to reflect on, so I don’t forget. Then I will work my way through them. You can take a certain topic off your list in any order you want… then date and title your page with that topic and get writing.
This allows you to completely give the topic all of your attention without getting side tracked by other issues. If another topic comes up that isn’t on your list when you are writing…just quickly add it and continue with your current topic…without worrying that you may forget it.
- Do a mini brain dump – here I go again with my brain dumping…but honestly it works. To read my past post, where I explain how to do one click here.
- Do a spider graph or mind map – if you are more of a visual kind of person these can be very effective. And the same applies to this method as it does when making a list. You can just cross topics off as you go through them. Date – Title – Write – Cross off!
Dealing with painful emotions
Once you start journal writing…you can take yourself to areas of your life that you may have long since buried, areas that may course you deep pain just thinking about them. This can be enough to scare someone into stopping journalling right away. And I can understand this…I had issues I was scared to address when I first started…in fact I would be lying if I said I have worked through them all because I haven’t.
I take each day as it comes and I write about a certain topic when I feel ready to explore it. But, every day I get closer to working out my issues. And that is all that matters. You have to just keep putting one foot in front of the other…or in this case… keep moving that pen across the page!
Sometimes you have to go back to be able to move forward…just remember not to get stuck there. Address your thoughts and feelings and reflect on them. Use them to learn more about yourself…use them to your current advantage, to help push you closer to where you want to be. It may be hard at first but don’t give up…I promise you, it will be worth it in the end.
When journalling you sometimes need to write about things you don’t particularly want others to read, maybe you are writing about an issue you have with them or about feelings you are not ready to share. This can be really hard for you to actually be true in your journal, if you always have to worry that someone might see it, you properly won’t address the issues that will essentially be beneficial for you to address.
In my opinion, the lack of privacy can happen in two ways;
- You don’t have the privacy to write without someone peering over your shoulder and asking you want your doing.
- You don’t feel secure enough to leave it unattended, without someone finding it.
When living with others, whether it be with your parents and siblings, with flat mates or with your partner and own children. This can be a serious issue if you want to keep your thoughts private. And unfortunately, there is no magic formula to completely avoid this.
But there are ways you can help to prevent this from happing;
- Choose to rise earlier in the morning…to write before anyone in your household wakes up.
- Write at night when everyone else has settled and there is less chance of you being distracted.
- Write horribly…to make it hard for others to read (Yeh, I would struggle with this too…my inner perfectionist would be screaming at me) but if this doesn’t bother you it may be something to consider…at least.
- Glue pages together – although this means you won’t be able to read it back either. But sometimes all you need to do is get ‘stuff’ off your chest then you can move on without needing to go back.
- Stick a picture over your writing – same method as before really but you get to add something visually appealing for the eye…and you will always know secretly what’s underneath. This can make you feel all mysterious LOL.
- Stable pages together – this way you can read those pages again but if someone else picks it up…they won’t be able to read it without you knowing.
- Invest in a journal with a lock or if you journal digitally you can password protect it.
If all else fails…if you live with caring and loving people you can could express your need for privacy. However, I know this may be hard for some people…Sometimes just saying the word ‘privacy’ makes others overly curious and make them need to read it. You just have to find a solution that works best for you…that works in with your life and situation. It may take some trial and error at first but you will find something that works if you persist.
Ending on that note; I hope my tips have helped you and not done the opposite and scared you off…that is not my intention. I recommend journalling to everyone – no matter of their age or sex. Journalling truly is a rewarding an experience…I just thought it would be helpful to make you aware of some challenges you may bump into along the way. So you can be prepared for them and send them on their way when they arrive…
If you are struggling with deep rooted emotions that you feel you can’t handle on your own…don’t be ashamed to seek medical help…especially with grief, depression and anxiety. Make an appointment with your doctor and ask for their advice. They may refer you to speak to a councillor and prescribe you some medication. You don’t have to deal with your emotions on your own and seeking medical attention or the help from family and friends does not make you a weaker person. If anything, it will only make you a stronger person. If you would like someone to talk to… contact me and I will do anything I can to help you move in the right direction. I am not an expert but I am someone who has been there and can relate to the feelings of grief, depression and anxiety…I know how hard it is and I am more than happy to help you as much as I can.
I would love to hear from you. How do you feel about journalling? Have you tried keeping a journal before or do you currently use one? What’s your experience with journals? Please leave a comment down below.
Check out the other instalments of the series…
Also check out my Journalling challenge called‘100 Creative Journal Prompt Challenge’. (Still open)
If you want to learn more about Miss Rachel B (click here)
You can also find me on my social media platforms @
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