You just started a new journal entry, the page is empty and now you are wondering what to write about.

It happens to everybody.

What you might want to write about will depend a lot on what you are trying to achieve.

The nice thing is that depending on how you set up your diary, you can easily split your entries for multiple purposes.

For stress, anxiety, mood and general well being

I want to start by saying again that if you are in a deep depression state, please seek professional help.

That being said, for milder issues, journaling can definitely help bring further improvements.

Expressive writing

…could be the most effective at figuring out the source of your issues when you face them.

The idea of expressive writing is to just write the deepest thoughts and feelings regarding the situation that is causing you stress or anxiety without any regard for grammar or structure.

This is so that you don’t interrupt your line of thought with unimportant details like grammar.

Taking this approach repeatedly, like a few minutes every day, should start to bring general improvements and it might also help figure out where the core issue is if you don’t already know.

However, this approach is only as good as you can handle it as it can backfire and trigger negative emotions.

I would say, experiment with it, if you are deeply disturbed by it, move on to something else.

That something else could be…

Positive writing

Similar to expressive writing you go deep down the rabbit hole but in a positive experience.

This can also help improve your mood, general well being and also make slight adjustments to your self-image based on what you did that lead to the positive experience.

However, when life is miserable positive thoughts are hard to find.

If you find yourself in this situation, just skip over this type of writing for now. You can come back to it at a later time.

Just write about your day-to-day

Writing, even fact-based and with no feelings involved can still yield benefits.

Maybe not as much as other styles of writing but improvement as small as it can get is still an improvement.

Over time when the overall mood starts to improve a bit, you can slowly start exploring feelings and progress towards expressive or positive writing or a mix of both.

Research tends to be very rigid in the way it's conducted so that the result can be as clear as they can be. You don't need to be as rigid in your writing.

Experiment, explore and see what you find.

One thing we can be fully confident about is that just writing itself helps so don’t concern yourself too much about “doing it right”.

There is no such thing.

There is also not a time limit.

Career development journaling

When it comes to professional communication and it’s development it’s probably obvious that the previous methods of writing don’t lead to much value.

In professional communication is paramount for the message to reach the receiver with the same meaning that you indented to deliver.

That is not as easy as it sounds, especially in you haven’t had much practice.

And this is important from writing your resume, to communicating with your managers and colleagues, clients and partners and so on.

In this type of communication, you need to structure your ideas, be mindful of who the reader is and his interests and knowledge of the subject and most importantly to be clear in your ideas.

Formatting and ease of reading is another important factor.

You notice this is widely different than keeping a stress management diary that nobody is supposed to read and you can do whatever the hell you want.

I also want to mention that for the purpose you don’t really need to keep the writing private. You can also take the blogging route and simply blog publicly.

That is of course not a requirement so feel free to take the route that feels best to you.

But how to practice?
There are plenty of resources that give you tips on improving the writing but I haven’t found any practical exercises.

I would just suggest taking your career, breaking it down to its various aspects that you know about or you are interested in and just write about those.

But with each story you come up with try to focus on one particular thing, one idea.

This way you can actually practice the writing for clarity, you have one main goal, one main idea and the structure and points you lay out must support that idea.

Everything that falls outside is just bloat and it shouldn’t be there.

Memory keeping

It’s one thing to just use media but in a lot of cases also describing the event can bring back a lot of missing information years later and give content to the images and videos you have.

I know I look back at some photos or videos which vaguely bring back some memories but I often wonder what was actually going on.

It’s also a simple way to organize your media with the added context instead of having a pile of photos just sitting there.

When doing this type of diary try to add context to the event, what was going on and why.

Other than that feel free to add whatever you think might be interesting especially the things your photos don’t show or explain properly.

Write daily

Yes, this is not a thing to write about, however, by forming a routine of writing you’ll soon find that ideas will start to flow more easily when you try to write.

So, hopefully, you make a habit out of it and stick with it.

It doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Start with just 1 minute a day. Just one!

And increase as you see it from there.

That is what specialists recommend and because it’s easier to do when it becomes a part of you.

As Newton’s law dictates

An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion…

If you from a habit of keeping a journal, you will keep adding to it.

If you only do it once in a blue moon it’s harder to get back at it.

Just as pushing a car that is moving vs pushing a car that is not already moving.

This way you will continue adding the benefits of journaling.

When stressful events surface you can simply explore them and find solutions where you can or simply have a better time accepting things you have no control over.

The best part is that you’ll be doing that without the extra effort of getting yourself to write again.

In conclusion

I hope this gave you at least some ideas of the general directions you can go.

One other quick tip I'll add as this guide comes to an end is to look for journaling prompts once you have an idea of the area you want to write about.

The reason why I would say you figure out the general direction first and then look for prompts is that there are so many it's easy to get so lost you'd just want to leave it for another day.

Whatever the case, try to just put some words down and things might start coming from there.

Author's Bio: 

Andrei is the founder of MusePeach, an online journaling app that aims to help people who don't see themselves as writers to get started with the activity. Among other things, the app makes it easy to put your thoughts in writing by using templates with predefined prompts to get your mind going.On the website, you'll also find tips and guides to help you get started and answer some of the questions you might have.