If you choose one habit for the new year, make it journaling. I know I’m biased in this exhortation, as writing expressively comes naturally for me. Words are my playground, and almost nothing brings me greater joy than stitching words across a page. Through every season of life, journaling has been not just a natural outlet but a necessary one, a buoy when life is difficult to manage.
For me, writing is a personal practice, but it’s also my profession. I teach academic and expressive writing for a living. I inhabit the world of words—or, more precisely, words inhabit every fiber of my life. However, you do not have to be a good writer or a professional writer to benefit from the habit of journaling. Anyone can do it and reap the rich benefits.
Perhaps, though, it would be helpful to dispel some of the preconceived notions around journaling. Let’s do an exercise to help with this. When I say the word journal, what comes to mind? For some, it’s the picture of their preteen self, sprawled on their bed, dreamily writing about their middle school crush. For others, it invokes the image of furious scribbling, “rage on the page,” a convenient way to dump all their conflicting emotions. Still others think of it as a luxury only for artistic souls.While journaling can be all those things, it’s not just for the daydreamer, the emotional wreck, or the artist.
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