10 Obstacles That Stop You from Journaling (And How to Overcome Them!)
Do you have a number of journals sitting on the bookshelf that you’ve barely written in?
Have you ever started writing in a journal with good intentions, then forgotten to keep up the habit?
Did you set a resolution this year to “journal more”, but you’re still not sure how?
I hear you! When it comes to journaling, things aren’t always easy.
You run out of time. You forget. You get bored using the same journal over and over again. You have a tough day and plan to “catch up later” (spoiler: you don’t catch up later!).
Below, you’ll discover 10 things that can get in the way of creating a consistent journaling practice and tips to help you overcome those obstacles in simple (and fun!) ways.
Obstacles that stop you from journaling - and how to overcome them.
1: Feeling overwhelmed
Have you ever opened a brand new journal to its very first page, picked up a pen and held it ready… Then, put the pen back down, closed the journal, put it on the shelf and left it there?
Sometimes, starting a new journal can simply feel overwhelming and you might not know how to begin.
If this is the case, head over to my article about 5 inspiring ways to use a blank journal. Choose your favourite idea and just get started!
Keep it simple and don’t worry if you change your mind and decide to use a different journaling technique or style later on – a journal can be more fun when it shows a journey and experimentation!
2: Lack of time
Not having enough time is a common obstacle for people when it comes to maintaining a consistent writing practice.
Here are a few simple ideas to overcome this particular obstacle:
-Use dot points, rather than writing in full sentences
-Find a journal that doesn’t ask too much of you. A good example might be a gratitude journal, where you just need to write 3 things you’re grateful for.
-Write once a week, rather than daily
-Use time during ad breaks on television, during the commute, or before you fall asleep at night to write in your journal
3: “All-or-nothing” thinking
“All-or-nothing” thinking is a type of negative thought process which involves splitting your beliefs into extremes. For example, “I will NEVER be good at journaling” or “I missed a day in my journal, so I might as well stop altogether”. You might feel like you need to write for a certain amount of time and if you can’t, then you’re a “failure” and you “might as well not do it.”
Try to identify when these thoughts appear and gently challenge yourself to change them. For example, “I won’t be able to write a full page, so I’ll wait until tomorrow instead” could be changed to “I’ll write a few sentences today – it’s okay if I don’t reach a full page”.
4: Having a tough day
If you’re having a tough day, you might feel compelled to give your journaling session a miss. However, journaling can actually help boost your mood and positive feelings, enhance your sense of wellbeing, and reduce symptoms of depression or anxiety.
Remind yourself that journaling can help you feel better after a tough day! Also, try answering some “positive” journaling prompts, such as:
Something that made me smile today was…
I’m grateful for…
Today, I’m really glad that I…
I’m looking forward to…
5: Lack of motivation
It can be easy to fall into the habit of thinking “tomorrow, I’ll write in my journal” and then the next day – “tomorrow, I’ll write in my journal”. If lack of motivation is your main concern, try using a reward system to get yourself excited about implementing a journaling habit – today.
For example, a reward system could be that if you write in your journal for the next 7 days, you can make your favourite meal for dinner. Or, if you start writing in your new journal today, you can read a good book for an hour before bed.
6: Using a journaling method that doesn’t resonate with you
Starting to dread your journaling sessions because you just don’t enjoy them? Think about trying a new journaling method you might really enjoy! For example, if you love drawing, try to describe your day in pictures, rather than words. If you don’t like writing in a free-flow style, then buy yourself a journal with prompts or a bullet journal.
There are so many different ways that you can journal, so if a particular method isn’t working for you, then try a different one!
7: Losing your journaling tools
Something as small as not being able to find a pen easily can interfere with your journaling practice. Here are some simple tips to stop you from losing your journaling tools!
-Keep everything you need in a drawer next to your bed
-Put your journal and journaling tools into a large pencil case or bag
-Use a journaling app, so all you need is your phone or computer
8: Feeling bored
Have you been using the same journaling technique for a while and you’re just feeling bored with it? This might be a good time to shake up your journaling routine and try something a bit different!
Here are some ideas for fun journaling techniques:
-Dream journaling (write about your dreams when you wake up in the morning)
-List writing (use a list format as you write)
-Gratitude journaling (write about things, memories, or people you feel grateful for)
-Write one sentence each day (jot down the date and one simple sentence to summarise the day)
-Goal or habit tracking (write down a goal or habit and you’d like to achieve and keep track of it)
You can also get your copy of my 21-day guide, A Journey into Mindfulness to inject some fun into your journaling practice! You’ll find journaling prompts, mindfulness exercises and helpful tips to live a more mindful life.
9: Simply forgetting to journal
Until your journaling practice becomes a habit, you might find yourself simply forgetting to do it. Try keeping your journal next to your bed so you will see it on a daily basis. Set a reminder on your phone. Start a journaling club with a few friends so you can inspire each other. Try to write at the same time each day. If you have any other ideas, feel free to let me know in the comments at the end of this article!
10: Feeling like you’re “bad” at journaling
Sometimes, you might just feel like you’re not very good at journaling. It can be a bit demotivating. Try to keep in mind that journaling isn’t meant to be perfect! It’s a journey which will ebb and flow. Some days, you might love your journaling practice. Other days, it might feel difficult, or you might forget, or you might not have anything you really want to write about. That’s okay! Come back to your practice when you feel ready and try again.