When Journaling is Hard

Close up on a person's hand holding a pen, writing on a notebook.
Some people love journaling. Some struggle with it and feel like something is wrong if they don't love and embrace journaling. Don't worry, nothing's worng.

The question

Do you find it hard to start journaling? I do. My therapist recommended it for years (she wasn’t pushy about it, but brought it up from time to time). I find it strange that I had such a hard time getting myself to do it, and an even harder time sticking with it, since I process things through writing, and putting experiences into words makes them feel more concrete and real to me.

Now that I think about it, maybe that’s exactly why I didn’t want to journal about the hard parts of my life. Maybe I didn’t want them to feel any more real than they already did?

Anyway, I get this question from time to time, and recently saw it again on Twitter, so I thought I would address it here.

Someone asked: “I find it difficult to even start journalling. I know it’s good for me to get my thoughts on the page but the idea of actually doing that either seems too much to do or too boring. What can I do?”

It’s a means, not an end

Here’s the deal. Journaling can be very helpful, but it’s a strategy, not an end in and of itself. It is a means of helping you process your experiences, or to get distance from the thoughts in your head, or to connect with subconscious thoughts or wisdom, or to engage your creativity.

Aaaaand, there are lots of ways to accomplish each of those goals. Journaling is a good strategy for some people, yet it is only one of many possible strategies.

There may be others that fit you better. Or fit you better at this time. 

There’s no shame in not loving journaling.

Other options

So here are some other ideas:

  • Free writing with no intention of journaling or long-term commitments. 
  • Talking it out on a recorder. 
  • Processing with a therapist, counselor, coach, or a trusted friend. 
  • Artistic expression. 
  • Music (that you make or listen to). 
  • Group therapy. 
  • Equine therapy. 
  • Walking in nature without devices.
  • Exercise without devices
  • Mindfulness.
  • Blogging.
  • Spilling your guts to a pet.

What other strategies have you found helpful, or heard about? Please share in the comments below.

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Heather Cook

Heather Cook

Hi, I’m Heather. I’m an autistic writer, advocate, and life coach, and I'm building a life I love. I help other autistics to build their own autism-positive life. I love reading, jigsaw puzzles, every science ending in -ology, and all things Star Trek!

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