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Jan 18 2017
by Rachel Loia

How Journaling Helped Me Have A Better First Semester

By Rachel Loia - Jan 18 2017

As soon as I graduated, I started a journal with the intention of actually filling the entire thing. For so long I got into the habit of only writing in half of a journal and then discarding it with my other "reject" journals. Between class, friends and other activities, I was too spent to journal at the end of the day. When I finished high school, I figured I would have more time to focus on myself and decided journaling would be a great way for me to adjust to college. The only problem is that filling every page with a ton of emotional thoughts was intimidating at first, as it is to most people. 

Through internet surfing and talking with my artistic friends, I have been introduced to a bunch of creative techniques and fun ways to fill up the pages, while also reflecting on my life. Without journaling, I'm not sure if I would've had such a positive experience my first semester. 

My Method

A Blank Journal

Rachel Loia

The first step is starting with an empty journal. I'm sure a lot of you have dozens of ones that have a few things written in them, but my best advice is to start fresh. Make sure the journal you have is something that makes you happy when you look at it. I'll be honest, I'm a sucker for cute journals. Papyrus and Barnes and Noble have some awesome ones that are not too overpriced.

The Classic "Diary" Entries

Every journal has to have a fair amount of pages of straight up word vomit. The reason this helps me so much is because when I reread what I write, I realize that things sometimes bother me more than I'm aware of. For example, I never knew I had a guilty conscious until most of my entries these past few months consisted of me saying I felt bad for *insert thing I did that didn't require me to beat myself over (i.e. forgetting to throw out my napkin).* 

During the semester, these passages allowed me to see my struggles. It also helped me brainstorm ways to cope with what I was going through by allowing me to visually see an outline of my issues and the most rational way to go about dealing with them. I plan on doing the same thing for this coming semester.

How to Get Over Writer's Block


Writer's block happens to literally everyone. Sometimes we just don't feel like writing, so we push it off. The thing about inspiration is that it's normal to lack it sometimes, but not trying to get it back can cause more harm than good. How to fix it? The following are the things I do when I don't feel like I have any ideas.


Just straight up drawing flowers or stars all over the page can be relaxing. If I'm feeling fancy sometimes I will write lyrics over my doodles or make it look like I put in some effort. 

Rachel Loia

"Checking In"

This is a page where I put my current favorite song, the nail polish I'm wearing, the book I'm reading, etc. Most of them look like this:

Rachel Loia


Rachel Loia

Usually, I just list songs I'm listening to or things I need to do even though I know the chances of me doing them are slim to none.

Pasting Mementos 

Rachel Loia

Gluing in receipts or ticket stubs remind you of little memories while also filling up space. I usually write a little blurb about what I was doing or where I was. 

Why You Should Never Stop Journaling

Journaling allows you to document your life in ways that pictures and videos can't. Each page you create reflects who you are and the experiences you have. Being able to read about the compliment the nice stranger on the bus gave you three months ago or see a receipt you glued in from the time you treated yo' self. It's a great way to see yourself for everything that you are while also giving you the opportunity to relive the most simple of memories. It's the little things that count, and journals are full of little things. That's what makes them so special: they're a safe spot to overthink and appreciate everyday happenings. It's really quite beautiful, and I promise if you push yourself to get through the first one, you will only keep wanting to fill more. 

Lead Image Credit: Beauty, Cocktails & Girltalk via Unsplash

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Rachel Loia - Ramapo College

Rachel is a freshman studying biology at Ramapo College of New Jersey. She also loves writing and uses it as an excuse to not do schoolwork. Instagram: @rachloia

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