top of page
Search

Self-revealing Journaling Techniques

Updated: Feb 14, 2022

In this post, we will introduce you to some options that you can try out in your personal journaling practice! We will briefly summarize 10 techniques that are capable of creating powerfully effective transformations in your life when you apply them properly. Our intention is that in trying out these techniques, you will discover a new practice that is both self-revealing and life-enhancing. Keep in mind that this post includes only a few of all the journaling techniques out of the many that are out there, but the ones we chose to include are important and relevant to the information on journaling shared here at In A New Way. If you'd like to learn more about journaling and it's benefits, click the links found at the bottom of this insight for follow up content from the Omnipresent Information Connection Podcast!


The true power of journaling is in its ability to organize and/or focus your life, provide relief from certain stressors, and clarify your emotional, physical, and spiritual experiences. When we experience these benefits it becomes clear that journaling is not just a practice that enhances the lives of teenagers, which is an age group that often finds an escape or artistic expression in keeping a diary. You will discover by reading this article that as adults, we have even more reasons to practice journaling! The techniques that are utilized alongside your own self-honesty determine the types/amounts of benefits you will experience through your journaling practice. Many people keep more than one type of journal! For example, a person who feels like they're always busy may want to keep a personal journal that helps them to slow down and clear their mind, or to provide relief from stored-up emotional; energy... while also keeping a business-centered journal on the side that helps to organize their schedule and track business developments. Take some time to try out multiple techniques for journaling and we are sure you will be able to zero in on some techniques that will be effective in your life! Now let's get into what some of those techniques are.


  1. Free Writing

  2. Dream Journaling

  3. Daily Planner Journal

  4. Daily Reflection Journal

  5. Communication Journal

  6. Reading Journal/Field Notes

  7. Unsent Letter

  8. Worst Case Scenario Journal

  9. Problem/Solution Journal

  10. Gratitude Journal


1. Freewriting

Freewriting is the simplest and least restrictive form of journaling. This is the technique that most children and teenagers will write with when they first start journaling. The main idea in freewriting is to set a specified amount of time that you will write for, otherwise choose a specific number of pages that you plan to fill up, and simply write! There is no restriction on what you decide to include in order to fill the pages or the time limit, as long as you are writing whatever comes to mind. When writing down anything that comes to your mind, it is helpful to keep in mind that the purpose of this writing style is not to be 100% grammatically correct. Give yourself freedom to be as sloppy in sentence structure or spelling as you need to be without worrying about going back and changing anything that you wrote. The freedom in freewriting is unlimited!

Benefits:

Less stress- Freewriting can bring a number of benefits to us. First of all, writing down whatever comes to mind without worrying about anything besides filling a time limit or page limit helps to ease any anxiety we may have felt about keeping a journal in the first place! Many people at times feel overwhelmed when they decide to start a journal because they feel like their journal needs to be perfect. If they mess up a sentence or write something down that did not express their thoughts perfectly they may get frustrated and give up early on. For that reason freewriting is a wonderful way to break the ice and start your journaling practice in a way that doesn't involve any added stress of needing it to be or look perfect.

Self Acceptance- Freewriting helps people to accept themselves! Pouring out anything and everything that comes to mind quickly and without a filter can at times show us sides of ourselves we did not expect. Sometimes the words expressed during freewriting may even shock us. Not to worry, though... this should be expected! Our minds produce multiple thousands of individual thoughts every day, and keeping track of all of them 100% of the time is an impossible task for anyone. That being said, there are many thoughts that may be expressed on paper during freewriting that, prior to writing them down, you had no idea were swirling around in your mind. When something you write down shocks you or seems to be out of character, it's important to not place judgment on yourself. Instead, accept them and move on to the next thought. In reviewing what was written down, you may gain some self-awareness about how your mind works. The more that you practice freewriting, the more you will be able to accept the words your mind and pen produce, and move on without judgment. The point of freewriting is not meant to be polished or neat, it's all about releasing what is in your mind onto paper without judgment.

Make Sense of Your Own Emotions- As previously mentioned, freewriting can help you be aware of how your mind works. It can also help you understand difficult emotions. Freewriting while we are feeling a difficult emotion or going through a highly emotional season can provide us with a healthy release of that emotional energy, just like when we "vent" our emotions to another human being. This literary venting session not only releases pent-up energies that we may feel uncomfortable expressing to another person, but it also helps us to understand how we feel. When we take something as complex and multifaceted as our emotions and put it on paper, even with freewriting there is a certain level of organization that occurs when translating thoughts into sentences. To clarify, doing this can be likened to untying a loose knot without needing to pick at it, which can be frustrating. Stretching out the knot into sentences forces us to slow down and see that emotional knot from a different perspective. Instead of being a balled-up mess it is now stretched out into a single, more comprehensible line of string.

Brainstorming- Freewriting is a great way to brainstorm. If you ever need to come up with new ideas, just letting your hand follow your mind and express it on paper can really help to get the creative juices flowing. Write for a certain amount of time, then review the page or pages that you just filled and see if there is anything you can work with and expand on!

Brain Detox- Freewriting is the best way to self-medicate your cluttered mind. Anytime you feel overwhelmed mentally, the practice of writing down anything on your mind without a filter can aid in letting go of the clutter. When you get it out on paper, the clutter is being sifted through and sorted out. Just like in making sense of your own emotions, free writing also will give you a healthy way to find relief from an overwhelmed mind.

Sleep- Oftentimes an overload of thoughts can cause people to have difficulty falling asleep at night. By freewriting at night, we can release those thoughts so they are processed before they have the chance of distracting us while we try to fall asleep.

Tips getting started:

  • A great time to practice freewriting is in the morning. Not only does writing anything at all in the morning get your brain neurons firing early, it also helps you to gather your thoughts and be in a more coherent state of mind. This can help tremendously in being more productive in the mornings and throughout the entire day!

  • Write your feelings down! Like we shared earlier in this post, freewriting helps us make sense of difficult emotions. When you feel a difficult emotion, give yourself a hand and a healthy release by trying out freewriting! Write down all your thoughts about what is causing you to feel this certain way. Let it pour out on paper instead of storing it up internally!

  • Remember, freewriting is completely free! The only way to begin is to begin. There is no need to be anxious about what to write about, just get that pen moving on paper and write anything that comes to mind!



2. Dream Journaling

Dreaming has been the source of inspiration throughout history. From Albert Einstein and the theory of relativity to Dmitri Mendeleev and the periodic table of elements, dreams have been known to bring important new ideas forth into the lives of many different people. Keeping a journal of our dreams can therefore be a simple source of new ideas in our own lives! All that you need is a journal, a pen, and a place to set them near your bed to get started. When you wake up, immediately write down any details you can about what you remember from your dreams.

Benefits:

Improved Memory- Keeping a dream journal has been shown to improve your memory. Waking up and immediately thinking of any small details from the dreams that occurred nightly gets the parts of your brain associated with memory firing right away. The same way you work a muscle at the gym, writing down your dreams "works out" your memory muscles! The more you work out your memory muscles, the more your memory will start to improve.

Insight to your Subconscious- Dreams can often give us insight into the inner workings of our subconscious mind. Dreams are often symbolic. They can show us areas in our life where we need healing, and help us get in touch with what really matters to us. Interpreting them honestly can lead us to having a much deeper understanding of ourselves.

Improved Creativity- Some of the most creative experiences we have in life occur during our dreams. The "dream world", so to speak, is not physical like the world during our waking state. For that reason among others, dreams can be the source of many creative ideas we may want to express after we wake up. Writing down these creative inspirations is one way we can inject more creativity into our lives easily and effectively! It is fascinating to note that there have been many famous songs (along with many other forms of art) that were originally inspired dreams of the artists who wrote them. Some songs on this list include; "Yesterday" by The Beatles, "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" by The Rolling Stones, "Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix, and "Every Breath You Take" by The Police.


Tips getting started:

  • Write down your dreams immediately! If you wait, the dreams become more fuzzy as the day goes on. The best way to assure you will be able to record the maximum amount of your dreams is to not delay in writing them down.

  • Keep a dream journal on your nightstand. Keeping a journal just an arms length away from your bed is the best place for it to ensure you will be able to record dreams as soon as possible.

  • Have a light source available. If you often wake up when it is still dark outside or not quite bright enough yet to see the journal's pages, it is important to have a reading light near your bed so that you don't need to strain your eyes. Comfortability is important to help you focus and concentrate on remembering the details.

  • Write any and all details you remember. Colors, sounds, people, places, feelings, thoughts, objects, and anything else you can remember are worth recording in a dream journal. It is also a good idea to draw pictures in your dream journal, due to the fact that many dreams include details that are difficult to put into words. When you include even small details in your dream journal, it boosts the effectiveness that this practice has at improving your memory.

  • Take it easy! Don't get down on yourself if at first you struggle to remember your dreams. As mentioned earlier, memory is like a muscle. The more you work out with consistency the more you will see improvement in how much you can recall about your dreams.

  • Listen to "Soul Inspiring Dreams and Visions" on the OIC Podcast for more insight into the profound subject of dreams!



3. Daily Planner Journal

One of the best ways to organize and structure your life is to keep a daily planner. This can be as simple or as detailed as you are comfortable with. You may be inspired to write down everything you plan on doing hour by hour, or you may just want to start out by writing a list of what you'd like to get accomplished at any point throughout the day. It's completely up to you which way you prefer to organize your day. This simple technique works as often as you work it, so refer to it often in order to stay on track with your goals for the day. At the end of the day, give yourself a pat on the back for what you were able to get accomplished, and add to the next day's planner what you weren't able to get to!


Benefits:

Organization- The most obvious benefit is organization. With a daily journal you can see your days before they happen, and it programs your mind prior to the events of the day to think of better ways that you can build your schedule.

Productivity- When you are aware of the day's goals before the day starts, you are more hardwired to get things done! Seeing the day before it happens allows you to have more mental preparation to get all the tasks of the day done. Writing down your goals is known to improve the chances of them getting accomplished.