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How to start a self-care journal for writers

Are you a hoarder of notebooks? Do you want to put one to use? A self-care journal might be for you.

Journalling is a great way to look after your mental health. Some people find that writing a diary entry a day helps them, while others prefer tracking habits or planning their day.

For writers, self-care journals can also help motivate you to write.

A pair of journals with two coloured pencils laid over the top.
Image by Jess Bailey on Unsplash

What is a self-care journal?

A self-care journal usually works by regularly writing about your thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. Having a dedicated self-care journal can help you not only write often but also tackle worries you have related to being a writer.

Whether you prefer daily journalling where you write about your day, a regular journal to write three things you’re grateful for, or something else, a self-care journal can be a beacon in troubled times.

Maybe you need a place to put all of your positivity – great feedback, gratitude, favourite lines you’ve written, affirmations, and more. You don’t need to write regularly, just have somewhere to collect positive comments.

You can reflect on the positivity in your journal when you’re struggling or in need of a boost. This helps you counter negative thoughts and doubts you might be having.

You can also include a self-care plan or a self-care checklist so you know what to do when suffering with imposter syndrome, rejection, anxiety, and other negative thoughts.

A self-care journal can be part of your self-care kit or you can keep it wherever you’re most likely to pick it up. If you want to use it daily, put it where you’ll use it – you could keep it in your bedroom so you remember to do it as part of your sleeping routine, or your table so you can reflect on it at meal times.

How do you start writing a journal?

Personally, I prefer to start a self-care journal with a list of self-care activities or a self-care plan, so it’s at the start of the book. Begin by writing down what makes you feel comfortable, loved, and confident.

Or look at ideas and templates other people have posted online.

Write something, anything, to get started with your journal. Sometimes having so many blank pages can be overwhelming. Try doodling or playing around with designs.

If you want to collect positivity in your journal, I recommend starting with a list of affirmations you can read to yourself. Get inspired from my list of 91 affirmations for writers and write out the ones that appeal to you.

Creating a self-care journal

To create a self-care journal, you can be as creative as you want.

Your self-care journal can take many forms: a simple spiral notebook, a bound journal, an annual diary, a bullet journal, or even a sketchbook. There are journalling apps you can use too.

You could even set up a folder in your computer to store files and collect images.

There are self-care journals you can buy online, but I prefer to use a lined or dotted journal with an appealing cover.

Maybe you’d like to create your own cover. Or spice up a blank cover with some stickers or washi tape.

What to write in a self-care journal

For most people, journalling involves writing daily or weekly, recounting what you did and how you felt. A self-care journal involves more purposeful reflection, so you can use a set of questions and prompts to guide your writing.

You might ask yourself questions like:

  • What have I achieved [today/this week]?
  • What am I grateful for?
  • How did I look after myself [today/this week]?
  • What was my biggest struggle and how did I overcome it?
  • What am I looking forward to?

My favourite way of journalling is gratitude journalling, where I write what I’m grateful for. There are many ways to gratitude journal – I like writing 3 things I’m grateful for in the moment, but you might prefer these other ways of recording gratitude.

Bullet journals are the most open and personal ways of journalling, because you design every page. They’re great for tracking moods, habits, and more, and there are endless ideas on how and what to journal.

Outside of writing daily or weekly entries, you might find it useful to include pages for:

  • Self-reflection
  • Weekly or monthly gratitude
  • Health tracking
  • Habit tracking
  • Dream logging
  • Worries
  • Positive affirmations
  • Reading lists

Bullet journal ideas for writers

For bullet journals especially, there’s tons of inspiration online. You can find inspiration on social media, especially on Instagram and Pinterest.

Try searching for ‘bullet journal inspiration’ for a mix of ideas, which will include splash pages, habit trackers, monthly calendars, to-do lists, and more.

You can change up the purpose of your inspiration too. Maybe instead of a steps count tracker you can make it into a word tracker for your current writing project.

In my self-care journal, I track my finished chapters and total word count. Every time I complete a chapter, I highlight it in my journal so I know it’s complete.

Other writers might benefit from having a savings tracker for self-publishing costs or a query tracker for how many queries they send to literary agents.

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