Sam Radford

March 12, 2021

How I finally established a journalling habit

On Monday 16th November last year I starting writing in my journal again.

I’ve not missed a day since. Not even Christmas day.

I’ve tried journalling many times over the years. But it never sticks. A few weeks later I lose interest, momentum, and it all grinds to a halt.

So this is a record for me.

And I’m trying to figure out what’s different this time around.

I think fountain pens are a factor. I bought of couple of nice pens (one as my main one, the other for an accent colour) and have rediscovered a love of writing by hand.

I enjoy the feel and the flow of the ink onto paper.

And, speaking of paper, having a good quality notebook with great paper is another aspect to my sticking with daily writing. Why? There’s a satisfaction I find in writing when I love both the pen and the paper I’m using.

I know, I know: a bad workman blames their tools, and all that. But tools do matter. Yes, they can become excuses. But good tools can also make the difference between the same task feeling like a chore or a delight.

Improving my handwriting has changed how I feel about writing by hand too. There’s no joy in looking back through a journal and recoiling from my untidy scrawls. So I’ve spent hours practicing my handwriting. It’s hardly exemplary, but it’s at a point I can now happily read back through my own writing.

The final factor is a routine I’ve established over the last few months.

My alarm goes off at 6.15am each morning and, like clockwork, I get up, go to my office, and I start writing.

Writing what? Anything! Anything and everything. I’ve loosely adopted Julia Cameron's ‘morning pages’ regime.

Sometimes I offload tasks for the day ahead that are consuming my mind. Or I capture thoughts and feelings I’m processing. It can be things that are bothering me. Or that I’m excited about. I might reflect on a great conversation with a friend. Or parenting challenges. Or things at work that are affecting me. Often I try and capture notes on whatever I’m reading too. And I also try to incorporate a ’Today I’m grateful for...’ paragraph.

There’s no set structure to it. It’s free form writing. It isn’t writing I’d share! But I’ve found the practice a wonderful way to start the day. Having that routine has no doubt played a part in helping me embed journalling as a part of my daily life.

So there you have it: Sam’s tips for establishing a journalling habit! I can't guarantee they will bring success for you – we are all unique after all. But, I hope they’re helpful to mull over none-the-less.

If you’re someone who often writes, what tools, practices, and routines have you found helpful? I’d love to know!

–Sam