You love the idea of keeping a journal self-expression, careful reflection, deep insights! but every time you stare at the pages of a blank book, you kinda, well, draw a blank. Relax. Journaling doesn't have to be an intimidating pursuit for born poets only, and you definitely don't have to follow any rules, says Samara O'Shea, author of Note to Self, a book on how to journal. "A journal is simply a collection of thoughts about the moments that moved you most," O'Shea says. "By recording those thoughts, you're creating a powerful tool to discover your hopes, dreams, and fears." So never mind what you think a journal should look like. Try expressing yourself with some of O'Shea's think-out-of-the-book ideas.
Address a friend
Write a (never-to-be-sent) letter to your mom, your old boyfriend, your high school self, or your kids about your life right now and your biggest hopes, fears, and wishes for the future. "Sometimes, writing to and for yourself can feel forced," explains O'Shea. "If you address your thoughts to another person, words may come more naturally."
Take a ticket
Save ticket stubs from movies, concerts, amusement parks, and plays and put them in a scrapbook or notebook, adding a short note about who you went with and what you thought about the outing. When you look back, you'll instantly get a flood of memories. The more you write, the more you may find yourself revealing how the experience affected you.
Reread a favorite book, writing down thoughts, impressions, memories, or just smiley faces next to your favorite lines. (Use Post-its if you're squeamish about writing on the page itself.) When you pick up the book again, you'll have a chronicle of which characters and moments moved you and new insight into what makes you tick.
Keep a record of restaurants you visited, what you ordered, who went with you, and major conversation points. While this might seem like data entry, you're really creating a mini-snapshot of your relationships, opinions, and joys something well worth holding on to!
The next time you're on vacation, buy postcards from different towns and attractions and write your impressions on the back of each. Then, hole punch them and slip them in a binder ring for an instant travel journal. Keeping a log of these adventures will serve as a record of details you might forget over time, and may help you dream up other journeys.