Journaling has become an increasingly popular activity in recent years. From bullet journals to gratitude journals, people are turning to journaling as a way to foster self-reflection, process emotions, and document their lives.
But is keeping a journal a hobby? Or is it better classified as a habit or a therapeutic tool?
There are arguments on both sides of this debate.
The Case for Journaling as a Hobby
Several key factors point to journaling qualifying as a bonafide hobby:
It Requires Dedicated Time and Effort
To maintain a journal, you have to intentionally carve out time in your schedule to write in it consistently. It takes effort to come up with journal prompts, reflect on your day, and process your thoughts and feelings through writing. This level of dedicated time and effort is indicative of a hobby.
It Has a Strong Creative Element
Journaling allows you to flex your creative muscles. You can include sketches, doodles, photos, mementos, and more alongside your writing. Decorating and customizing your journal with creative touches like washi tape, colorful pens, and stickers also taps into your creative side. The possibilities for making your journal aesthetically pleasing are endless.
It Has a Community of Enthusiasts
Just like hobbies such as knitting or woodworking, journaling has spawned online and in-person communities where people connect over their shared passion. On sites like Reddit, Facebook groups, and bullet journal websites, journaling enthusiasts swap tips, inspiration, and support. The existence of these robust communities centered around journaling demonstrates that it is more than just a daily habit.
It Can Be Done in Many Different Ways
Journaling is an open-ended activity. You can journal for therapeutic reasons, creative expression, to log your life’s mundanities, or as a practice of mindfulness and gratitude. The flexibility and variety of approaches make journaling function much like a hobby that can continuously evolve.
It Produces a Tangible Product
At the end of the day, you’re left with a tangible creation: your journal. The collection of your thoughts, experiences, and creativity bound in a book is something you can hold and look back on. It’s much like a knitter having a finished sweater or a painter having a completed canvas.
The Case Against Journaling as a Hobby
However, there are also compelling arguments that journaling does not quite fit the mold of a hobby:
It Is Often Recommended for Mental Health
Many mental health professionals prescribe journaling to help people process emotions, cope with stress, and identify thought patterns. The fact that it is considered a therapeutic technique sets it apart from most hobbies. You are less likely to take up knitting for counseling.
It Is Primarily Writing
At its core, journaling entails writing down thoughts and experiences. Unless you get highly creative with sketches and decorations, you are essentially just writing in a notebook. And while writing can be a hobby for some, for most it is simply a useful daily activity or tool for work.
It Can Feel Like a Chore
Pushback against journaling often includes complaints that it feels forced or like another chore to check off. Whereas hobbies are usually enjoyable leisure activities we voluntarily choose to do, journaling can sometimes evoke feelings of obligation or dread. If it does not come from intrinsic motivation, it loses a bit of its hobby status.
Many People Journal for Utility
For those who use journals to track habits, log work tasks, or record daily memories, the activity is more about utility than enjoyment. It fulfills a function but may not hold much inherent pleasure or creative satisfaction the way hobbies do.
It Lacks a Universal Appeal
While many people journal, it does not have quite the mass widespread appeal of universal hobbies like reading, cooking, or listening to music. Since journaling requires introspection and written communication skills, there are those for whom the practice holds little interest or even poses a challenge.
Journaling Can Certainly Become a Hobby
At the end of the day, there are compelling points on both sides of whether or not journaling constitutes a hobby. There is no objective right or wrong answer. However, it seems that journaling falls somewhere on a spectrum between hobby, habit, and therapeutic activity. Where exactly it lands depends greatly on an individual’s unique approach.
For those who journal primarily for mental health or to record mundane details, it may never move into hobby territory. But for others who dedicate time to creating something that brings them joy, fosters creativity, and connects them to a community, journaling absolutely can become a rewarding hobby.
Ultimately, it comes down to your relationship with journaling. If fueling this practice brings you happiness and fulfillment, there is no question that it is a worthwhile way to spend your time, whether you consider it a hobby or not. The labels do not matter.
At the end of the day, it is about your purpose for journaling and what value you derive from the activity. Any practice that enhances your life and sparks a passion within you deserves time and dedication, regardless of what terminology you use to describe it.
See Also: What is the 5 Hobby Rule?
Getting Started with Journaling as a Hobby
If you want to move beyond just casually writing in a journal and turn journaling into a true hobby, there are some simple steps you can take to make this activity a more central part of your life. Here is an overview of tips for getting started:
Pick a Journal Style
Dedicated hobbyists often graduate from a basic notebook to a more specialized journal style. Some popular options include:
- Gratitude journals: Prompts help you record daily things you are thankful for.
- Travel journals: Document adventures with photos, tickets, and written descriptions.
- Nature journals: Record observations, specimens, and memories from the outdoors.
- Growth journals: Track goals, habits, and personal development.
- Prayer journals: Deepen spirituality through writing prayers, reflections, and insights.
Make Time to Journal Daily
To turn journaling into a hobby, aim to write in your journal every day or most days. Even just 15 minutes a day can lead to major growth over time. Scheduling a consistent time to journal will ensure you prioritize it.
Find Ways to Make Journaling Fun
Incorporating elements you enjoy will prevent journaling from feeling like a chore. Try out colorful pens, letter writing, inspirational quotes, creative doodles, reflective prompts, book reviews, or anything else that adds a spark of fun or meaningfulness to your journal routine.
Connect with a Journaling Community
Joining online groups, taking classes, or attending conferences immerses you in a motivational community centered around your new hobby. You can share inspiration, ask questions, and continue improving. Some popular journaling communities include bujo groups, referral services like Therapist Aid, and creativity sites like Daisy Yellow.
Consider Making Journaling Part of Your Identity
When you attach an activity to your identity, you are much more likely to stick with it long-term. Introduce yourself as a journaler, get a journaling mug, wear a pin that says “Ask me about my journal!” or find other ways to make journaling an integral part of who you are.
Try New Journaling Methods
Branch out from basic written entries to mixes of art, photography, poetry, habit tracking, vision boards, and other creative forms of self-expression. Pushing your journaling skills keeps the hobby exciting. Consider taking a class on journaling techniques to continue advancing.
With a little time and effort, you can transform journaling from a sporadic activity into a fulfilling hobby that brings new dimensions to your life. Let your passion and enjoyment guide you. The key is maintaining a mindset of playfulness and possibility when it comes to the limitless ways you can make the simple act of journaling engage your spirit.
Benefits of Journaling as a Hobby
Cultivating journaling as a consistent hobby, rather than just an occasional activity, can enrich your life in so many ways. Below are some of the top benefits you may experience:
Journaling is a cathartic release. It provides an emotional outlet to pour out your anxieties, frustrations, fears, and upsets. Expressing these feelings on paper can bring clarity and perspective that relieves built-up stress.
Improved Mental Health
Studies show journaling reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety. It helps identify negative thought patterns so you can address them. Journaling can aid in managing conditions like PTSD, coping with grief, recovering from addiction, and navigating other mental health issues.
Better Physical Health
Journaling about traumatic experiences and stressful events can even boost your immune system and accelerate healing according to research. Processing emotions through writing produces measurable improvements in physical well-being.
One of the greatest gifts of journaling is becoming better acquainted with yourself. Putting your thoughts, emotions, experiences, dreams, and struggles on paper increases your self-understanding and helps you stay grounded.
Journaling allows you to think through dilemmas and organize the problems that feel tangled up in your head. Seeing your concerns in writing can reveal solutions that seemed elusive when the issues were abstract thoughts.
Journaling forms a cherished record of your life’s journey. No matter how basic your entries, they capture moments in time that otherwise might be forgotten. Journals create a road map of where you have been that you can look back on.
Writing down goals cements your commitment to actually pursuing them. Journals let you track habits, visualize future success, log baby steps of progress, and become accountable to personal growth commitments.
Your journal is a judgment-free space to flex your creativity through written reflections, artistic endeavors, poetry, short stories, photography, collages, and so much more. The possibilities for creative expression are infinite.
Journaling frequently improves your overall writing skills. You develop your abilities to communicate thoughts clearly, use descriptive language, self-edit, structure narratives, and more. These skills transfer over to benefit your writing in all areas.
Journaling can strengthen relationships by helping you organize your thoughts before difficult conversations. You gain insight into relationship dynamics that can guide greater intimacy with loved ones.
For all these reasons and more, dedicating yourself to journaling as a hobby is a worthy investment in your mental, emotional, and even physical well-being. When you journal consistently, you open yourself up to profound personal growth and fulfillment.
How to Keep a Journal in 5 Simple Steps
If you are ready to start journaling but do not know where to begin, it can feel overwhelming. However, keeping a journal can be quite simple if you start with these basic steps:
1. Find a Journal You Love
Shop around for a notebook or journal that makes you excited to write in it. Pay attention to factors like binding, paper type, page design, and cover aesthetic. Choosing a journal you find appealing sets you up for success. You might even want to have multiple notebooks for different types of entries.
2. Commit to a Consistent Schedule
Daily journaling is ideal, but start where you can. You might aim for 3 to 5 days per week or a certain number of minutes per day. Setting a routine helps establish the habit, even if you have to start small. Attach it to an existing habit like your morning coffee or evening wind-down to remember.
3. Write Your Thoughts Freely
Let your journal be a space of free thought. There is no need to adhere to formal rules or structures. Just open your journal and start pouring out whatever is on your mind. You can process your day, explore how you feel, describe events, or just ramble.
4. Date Your Entries
Get in the habit of dating each journal entry, either by writing the date at the top or just labeling each day with a number or word. This creates context so when you flip back through your journal everything has a time stamp.
5. Do Not Edit or Censor
Resist the urge to edit your entries or self-censor. Allow yourself to be honest, and imperfect, and say the things you would not voice out loud. Crossing out sentences or writing for a hypothetical audience inhibits the introspective value of journaling. Just be real and write for yourself.
By starting with this simple routine, you establish the foundation to evolve your journaling practice in any creative direction you want. Remember, there is no required formula. Journaling is an open canvas unique to you. So just take the pressure off and start writing!
7 Types of Journaling to Try
Beyond a basic diary-style journal, there are countless creative forms of journaling you can explore. Here are 7 types to try out:
One of the most popular forms of journaling involves listing things you are grateful for daily. It shifts focus to the blessings and beauty that surround you.
Capture the memories of your trips and adventures by collecting ephemera, photos, and tickets and jotting down descriptive stories of your wanderlust.
Record your dreams upon waking to gain insight into your subconscious mind and improve dream recall over time. Doodling dream images also tap into creativity.
Made famous by Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way, this entails writing stream-of-consciousness for 3 pages every morning to clear your mind.
Journaling with Creative Expression
Take your journal to the next level by incorporating sketches, collages, poetry, short stories, word art, stickers, photography, and more as you feel inspired.
Stay organized by creating calendars, habit trackers, goal-setting logs, and to-do lists along with your written entries in a methodical bullet journal system.
Strengthen your faith and understanding of spiritual growth by journaling prayers, favorite scriptures, sermon notes, devotional reflections, and your connection with a higher power.
Mix and match approaches to discover what resonates most with you. Following inspiration and curiosity will lead you to the most meaningful journaling experience.
Tips to Make Journaling More Enjoyable
While journaling has immense value, it can sometimes feel like a chore. Here are some tips for making journaling a more enjoyable experience you will look forward to:
- Write about what excites you – elephants, space travel, D&D, flowers, a favorite novel series – it does not matter, as long as it gets your passionate juices flowing!
- Follow tangents and random thoughts – you do not need to stay focused on one topic. Go where inspiration leads.
- Time travel – revisit nostalgic moments from your childhood, teen years, a favorite vacation, or any fond memory.
- Dialogue with yourself – imagine a back-and-forth between two different aspects of yourself. What would your bold side say to your fearful side?
- Imagine future success stories – journal your acceptance speech when you win that Oscar, Nobel prize, or competition. Allow yourself to dream big!
- Try journaling in different locations – a park, beach, cozy cafe, or your childhood home. New environments can bring fresh perspectives.
- Interview yourself – write down incisive questions then answer honestly as if being probed by a journalist.
- Write letters to people – those who inspire you, younger versions of yourself, future self, soulmate, even if you never send them.
- Brainstorm ideas, projects, and goals – let your journal double as a place to capture creative seeds and outline action plans.
Following inspiration rather than rules is key to making journaling delightful versus a duty. These prompts break you out of the box to fuel motivation. But at the end of the day, the simple act of putting your unfiltered thoughts on paper is what matters most.
How Often Should You Journal?
There is no magic formula for how frequently you need to journal to reap the benefits. Ultimately, journaling daily or close to daily works best but any routine is better than none. Use these tips to determine the ideal journaling frequency for you:
- Start where you can sustain – 10 minutes a day is better than 2 hours once a week if you burn out. Build gradually.
- Schedule it – assign journaling a consistent time slot like morning wake-up, lunch break, or pre-bed unwind to form a habit.
- Tie it to an existing habit – after your shower, during your commute, with breakfast, while exercising, or whenever fits smoothly into your flow.
- Keep it accessible – have your journal readily available so you can jot whenever the urge strikes. Carry it in your bag or keep it on your nightstand.
- Batch it – if your schedule is tight, cluster journaling sessions on certain days even if you skip others. Such as journaling an hour on Sundays and Wednesdays.
- Find your optimal duration – time your sessions to see if you naturally write for 5, 15, or 20 minutes. That could be your sweet spot for most days.
- Match mood and energy – journal more on leisurely weekends or days when you feel contemplative. Lighten up on days already packed with obligations.
- Be flexible – life happens, so skip days when needed and resume when you can. Just pick back up as soon as you are able.
Overall, aim for daily journaling or multiple times per week when possible. But listen to your needs and go at the pace that feels nourishing rather than demanding. Even journaling sporadically has powerful benefits.
Reflective Journal Prompts to Get You Started
Not sure what to write about? Try these thought-provoking journal prompts to spark introspection:
- When did you feel truly alive this week? Describe the experience in vivid detail.
- What are you currently finding inspiring? How can you cultivate more of that inspiration?
- Which of your values feel most aligned with your life right now? Which feel neglected and need more attention?
- Who makes you feel most deeply understood? Describe how they show up for you.
- What limiting beliefs hold you back from living boldly and freely as your true self? How can you start letting go of those beliefs?
- What activities bring you into a state of flow? How could you incorporate more of those activities into your daily life?
- When was a time you listened to your intuition and it paid off? Are there any intuitive nudges you should listen to now?
- What are you tolerating or putting up with that deep down you know you shouldn’t? What steps could you take toward positive change?
- Where do you feel stuck or stagnant lately? What’s one small move you could make this week to get unstuck?
- What quotes, lyrics, poems, or pieces of writing have spoken to you deeply lately? Why did they resonate with you?
- What’s something you’ve been postponing out of fear or procrastination? How would your life open up if you took action toward it?
- If today was your last day on earth, who would you want to connect with and what would you want to say?
- What are you proudest of accomplishing or overcoming in the past year? How did you tap into your inner strength?
Journaling is a voyage of self-discovery, so let these prompts be your guideposts along the journey. Treat the questions as doorways to better understanding yourself and awakening your true potential.
Is Journaling Considered a Form of Collecting?
Journaling can indeed be viewed as a form of collecting hobbies.
By jotting down personal experiences, thoughts, and emotions, individuals accumulate precious memories and observations on paper.
Just as collectors amass objects, journaling enthusiasts collect a wealth of introspective knowledge, creating a unique archive of their lives.
At its core, journaling provides a space for self-expression and self-exploration.
While there are debates around whether it qualifies as a hobby or simply a habit, journaling certainly can become a deeply fulfilling activity that enriches your life. There are so many creative forms to make journaling your own, from travel journals to prayer journals to journaling with art. If you commit to journaling consistently, it offers immense benefits from stress relief to personal growth and so much more. Use an approach that feels enjoyable to you, whether that involves prompts, freewriting, sticking to a routine, or following inspiration.
Ultimately, journaling is what you make of it. Let this activity open new dimensions of your inner world and illuminate your unique path in life. With a journal as your trusty companion, you have pages and pages to discover who you truly are under it all.
FAQs about Is Journaling a Hobby?
What type of activity is journaling?
Journaling is a personal writing activity where individuals write about thoughts, feelings, goals, and events in a journal or diary. It is a reflective activity done for self-expression.
Is journal writing a skill?
Yes, journal writing is a skill that involves learning how to translate thoughts and emotions into writing for self-reflection. It requires creativity and vulnerability.
Is journaling a type of creative writing?
Journaling can be a form of creative writing since it involves crafting original reflections, often incorporates descriptive language, and allows imagination in entries.
Is writing a form of self-care?
Writing, including journaling, can be an excellent form of self-care because it provides an outlet for emotions, reduces stress, and promotes mindfulness.
Is writing a hobby career?
Writing as a hobby could potentially turn into a career for some, but journaling specifically remains a personal hobby for self-expression, not professional writing.
What type of writing is journal writing?
Journal writing is typically informal, exploratory, unstructured, personal writing done in a diary or journal for reflection and self-discovery.