Keeping a journal is one of those lifelong struggles that seemingly everyone deals with. It’s not your fault that blank notebooks are so enticing and are only five dollars, but the stack of unfinished journals in your room is not getting any shorter. Journaling can be an amazing way to organize your thoughts (it’s kind of like being your own therapist), but keeping up with a journal is hard. Here are some steps to get you started!

1. Get a really cute and/or meaningful journal.

If you aren’t picky, stop by your local office supply store and pick up a cheap lined journal. If you are incredibly picky, like me, you can check out places like Etsy or Amazon or even spend a day looking around a local market. I have tried to start a journal many times, each time in a new, beautiful and perfectly minimalistic notebook, but what really got me writing was using a journal a friend gave me. Not wanting to “waste” the gift, I found, was the perfect incentive! Whether it’s a really pretty journal, a really expensive journal or a really sentimental journal, having a reason for using that journal will help keep you invested.

2. Give it a theme or a purpose.

Giving your journal a reason for existing will help you keep it up. Is it a summer-only journal? A life planner? A super secret “my-eyes-only” journal? Or one you pass back and forth between a friend? Giving your journal a purpose rather than just making it something you write in when you’re bored will help you know what to write and when. My journal is a “summer journal” so I am racing myself to finish the whole journal before the summer ends, which gets me writing at least once a day!

3. Get inspiration (or don’t).

If you’re like my friend Rachel, you have an amazing eye and you love scrolling through Instagram finding awesome templates to copy and make the most beautiful journal ever. If you’re like me, you are the worst artist that exists and copying things stresses you out. So this step is totally up to you. If you’re Rachel, check out these cool Instagram accounts: here, here or hereIf you’re like me, just start writing and don’t worry about how it looks; make it about the content!

4. Write about every little thing.

I know it’s intimidating to make a journal entry. It feels like everything you write has to be significant or poetic, but what’s great about your journal is that (if you want), no one will read it. Your journal being your own makes it the perfect place to just ramble or write any minor thing that comes to mind. No editing and no rewriting — your journal is basically just one big scrap paper. My most recent entry reads, “Hi Journal! I found my pen, it turns out it fell in the side compartment of my car.” Boring, right? But after you write about five of those, I promise creative inspiration will strike. The more you write, the more you will have to write. Even the most boring entries are fun to look back on later.

5. Make it a routine.

Write every day. Write twice a day. Set journal time as part of your routine. Write right before you go to bed, or at lunchtime or right before your summer nap. Keep it as a part of your routine. However, and this one’s important, do not get “stuck” in this routine. If you miss one night, that does not mean you have to wait until tomorrow night to journal. Having a consistent time will help you keep up with journaling, but being too harsh with that routine will be the reason you stop. Write at least once a day, but don’t restrict yourself, and don’t give up if you miss a day (or two or three).

And that’s it! You are on your way to an amazing summer journal. Use these tips, but make it your own. Your journal is yours to use! Doodle, write, vent and share your successes. Your journal will be your best friend this summer. Who knows, maybe your summer journal habits will turn into year-long ones! 

Rachel Cheung

Lead Image Credit: Rachel Cheung