8 Lifechanging Reasons to Keep a Journal (& 50 Things You Could Write About in Yours)

Do you have a fear of the blank page?

I've got you covered! Click below to download a free PDF of 50 prompts, techniques, starting points, and themes for you to explore in your journal.


I started keeping a journal when I was 4. Most of my entries at that age were about cats. When I was visiting my family in Canada during the summer, I found several of my journals, ranging from first grade through high school. It wasn't a practice I kept up consistently, but over the years, journals were places for me to work out my thoughts and feelings. My teenaged entries are filled with angsty writing about the boys I loved and as I've grown older I've used these pages as a space to figure out who I am, what I believe in, and what I want my life to be like.

Like meditation, journalling is a practice that will come up again and again when you delve into the world of personal development. Many experts will recommend morning pages as a way to begin clearing your mind and almost any self-help book or course comes with journalling prompts to help you integrate the material you're learning.

I got back into journalling this year and have been consistently writing in mine since May. But I totally get that it's a practice that's easy to dismiss as something you don't have time for or wouldn't really get many benefits from, so I want to share with you 8 life changing reasons to start keeping a journal. And in case you're not sure what you'd even write in one, I'd put together a list of 50 ideas you can use (you can download it at the end of this post). It's a combination of prompts, techniques, starting points, and themes for you to explore so that your journal can become more than a chronicle for your day.

But first, let me convince you that keeping a journal is a worthwhile endeavour by showing you the many ways it can benefit your life.

1. To work through issues you're facing and access your intuition.
We hold so much wisdom inside of us. Often we have a gut feeling about what we should do in a particular situation or we have deep, cut-to-the-core inspirations that seem like flashes of the divine. But when we are living with fears or have focused on what we "should" be doing for so long, this wisdom becomes muffled. By writing in a journal we can excavate these hidden gems. Writing can put us in a state of flow and soon answers are coming up without us knowing where they're coming from.

To access your intuition write a question from your ego about a problem you're facing. Take a few deep breaths to tune into the calm, knowing place within you. Put your pen to paper and allow the words to flow out of you without thinking, editing, or stopping. For a more thorough, step-by-step guide to intuitive writing listen to this episode of Punk Rock Personal Development with Meggan Watterson.


2. To document your life.
It's so easy for life to pass us by. For the beautiful moments to slip by all but unnoticed. For the monumental events to begin to fade from our minds. By capturing them on paper we ensure that we can look back on this season of our lives more fully. To recall who we were, what we were doing, what we loved, what we were scared of. Not only does this allow us to indulge in nostalgia but it also creates a clear picture of how far we've come. Imagine being able to look back on your journal as an old woman and remember all of the adventures you had, the obstacles you overcame, and the tiny moments that captured your heart. It's a pretty wonderful thought, isn't it?


3. To deepen yourself awareness.
When we take time to sit down and write everyday we can't help but know ourselves better. My journal is the place where I grapple with difficult questions, puzzle out my beliefs, and define my values. It's a space free from judgment or observation where I can dive into the deep, uncertain messiness of who I am.

Having this space and doing this work has increased my confidence because I operate from a greater understanding of who I am, who I want to be, and how I want to operate in this world. It's easier to live in alignment with my values because I know what they are and this has increased my peace of mind.


4. To write, just for the joy of it.
So much of what we create is tied to our livelihood and our ambitions. It's goal-driven and totally hooked into our ego. But that's not what brought . We didn't dream of being writers so that we could get more followers on Twitter or comments on a blog post. We might dream of book deals but there's something deeper than that. The joy of creating something beautiful with words. Of evoking feelings, setting scenes, and changing perspectives.

Your journal can be an outlet for writing that has no purpose but to bring you joy from it's creation. Sometimes I like to sit with my journal and create character sketches, fanciful pieces of prose, or even self-indulgent poems. Perhaps this writing will turn into something more one day but that's not the point. It's simply a means of reconnecting with my love of words.


5. To dump the mental garbage out of your head and onto the page.
Your journal can be a container for every mundane thought or worry that's clogging up your brain. When you make a practice of letting all of these out onto the page you make room for creativity and productivity. This is essentially what Julia Cameron describes as "morning pages," a practice she says acts as "spiritual windshield wipers."

"Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*– they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and
synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow."

“Once we get those muddy, maddening, confusing thoughts on the page, we face our day with clearer eyes.” - Julia Cameron

The idea here is not necessarily to solve a problem but just to get your money mind onto paper so that you can move on with your day less hindered by it. We clear out the junk

6. To look at your fears more objectively.
When we get caught up in our fears, our thoughts have a way of sucking us into a downward spiral of doom and gloom until it feels impossible to climb out of it. Writing creates a little bit of space from our thoughts. We separate ourselves from them a little bit by writing them down. When we write down our fears we can ask ourselves: Where did this fear come from? Do I know it to be true without a shred of doubt? Can I find evidence that contradicts this fear? What would I rather believe instead of this? Through this process of journalling about our fears we begin to strip away their powers and bring this sense of objectivity into our daily lives.

Do you have a fear of the blank page? I've got you covered! Download my list of 50 ideas of what you could write in your journal at the end of this post.

7. To look for patterns and begin changing your behaviour.
It's difficult to write everyday about how you want to exercise without getting frustrated enough with yourself that you actually start doing it. Through journalling regularly we see patterns that emerge in our behaviour, moods, and desires. We notice what's working for us and what isn't. We can begin differentiating our fears from our intuition. This knowledge is empowering. By recognizing our own patterns we have leverage them to start making lasting changes in our behaviour.


8. To keep all of the personal development work you're doing in one place.
Almost any course you take, book you read, or workshop you attend is going to ask you to go through exercises that help you make sense of the concepts you're learning, apply them to your own life, and integrate them into your sense of self. When you keep a journal you have one place to keep all of this work. Rather than loose sheets of papers that end up scattered around your house, you have a single tome that you can refer back to when you want to revisit what you've learned, deepen your understanding, or find a tool for a particular situation you're facing.

When you do all of the work that I'm outlining in this post, your journal becomes the ultimate, just-for-you self-help book. When you are using it to chart your thoughts, beliefs, moods, experiments, adventures, and everything in between, you're creating a resource more helpful than any book, course, or workshop.

For example, when I'm experiencing a time that feels like the lowest of the low, like anything more miserable than anything I've experienced before, I can flip back through the pages of my journal and realize that I've been before. Not only does it help me recognize that I got through it before, but I can look back on the tools that helped me most. I might start to recognize patterns, such as that there are certain times of the year or month that evoke certain in feelings me.


Fear of the blank page is real, yo. I love buying beautiful notebooks and I can be a bit of a hoarder when it comes to stationary. But I used to THINK about keeping a journal rather than actually doing it or I'd only pick up my pen sporadically, mostly because I didn't know what the hell to write and I thought I needed an hour every day to actually make it worthwhile. I let my perfectionism get in the way of actually starting this practice.

But even writing just a few lines to check in with how I'm feeling and what I'm working through can be extremely powerful when done consistently. When I do have more time to journal, I'm in the habit of writing and the words flow more freely. But what can you write about to get the maximum impact from your journalling? I've created a list of prompts, techniques, starting points, and themes to explore so that I'm never short of ideas to write about. And I want to share it with you!

Download it and then let your intuition guide you to what will be most helpful for you right now.

And I'd love to hear from you in the comments: what does your journal look like? Show me yours and I'll show you mine!

Do you have a fear of the blank page?

I've got you covered! Click below to download a free PDF of 50 prompts, techniques, starting points, and themes for you to explore in your journal.