Person writing in a journal
Life Hacks

Fun Approaches to Personal Writing

Learn about different forms of personal writing and how they can benefit your everyday life!

Image of a travel journal and a pen.
Photo by charan sai from Pexels

Roses are red. 
Violets are blue.
I think writing is fun.
How about you?

Many of you are probably looking at this thinking, Writing isn’t fun. And even if it were, why would I write in my free time? I already have 3 essays due tomorrow, 10 emails to reply to, and a million other things to do. I don’t have time to write. 

Well, do you remember that text you sent to your friend last night or the caption you put on your Instagram photo? Guess what! Those count as writing. 

So, we’ve established that you do indeed have time to write, considering you probably do it a lot more than you initially thought. However, that still doesn’t answer the question: Why?  

What if I told you that your life depended on it? Maybe that’s a bit extreme, but if you think about it, writing is key to our lives as human beings. It helps us communicate with one another, explain our thoughts and ideas, and express ourselves creatively. It may even help you focus, sleep better, and boost your overall mood. So, you have no reason not to write!  

If you don’t know where to begin in your personal writing journey, keep reading this article to learn about a few writing techniques and how they can benefit you. 

Dear Diary… How do I keep a journal? 

One way you can incorporate writing into your daily life is by keeping a journal. There is no right or wrong way to do this. It doesn’t matter so much where you keep this journal or what platform you use; you can have a paper notebook, create a document on your laptop, or even use the Notes app on your phone. You can do it once a day, once a week, or however often you feel the need. Below are some different types of journals to help you get started. 

1. Gratitude journal

This type of journal focuses on recognizing the positive things that happen in your life. You can simply write down a few things you are grateful for each day—positive experiences, people you are thankful for, or even things that you like about yourself. Psychotherapist Amy Morin, who writes for Psychology Today, explains that the practice of keeping a gratitude journal has been shown to make people happier, healthier and more confident. By starting each day looking for the good things, you become more focused on the positive, and consequently have a boosted mood throughout the day. 

2. Travel journal

Do you like to go on road trips or see new places? A great way to recount those experiences is by keeping a travel journal. You can write about places you visited, fun experiences you had, people you met during your travels, or make lists about the places you hope to see. You can also include pictures or mementos from your trip. This is a fun way to remember your exciting stories and share them with other people. This article from The Travel Tester may spark some travel journal inspiration! 

3. Dream journal

Do you ever wake up from a crazy dream, and then about 25 minutes later, you can’t remember a single thing about it? Writing down your dreams is a fun, easy, and useful practice to adopt. Psychologist Kelly Bulkeley, Ph.D. states, “One of the greatest values of a dream journal is the way it grows in power and depth over time.” With practice, recalling your dreams can help you recognize common patterns and better understand and process your emotions. You may also use your dreams as inspiration for stories and other creative writing pieces in the future. 

4. Free-writing

You can also keep a journal simply to vent about your feelings or recall experiences from your day. Free-writing is easier to incorporate into your life than you may expect. Instead of spending the late hours of the night scrolling through social media, you can take a few minutes each night to decompress and write about your day. Think of some of the things that happened today, both good and bad. How did they make you feel? Is there anything that you accomplished today that you’re proud about, or did something make you angry? Personally, I think putting your feelings on paper is a great coping skill for handling difficult times or releasing unwanted negative energy from your life. 

Get creative! Express yourself! 

Creative writing can be an alternate way of expressing your feelings without explicitly saying what you mean. There are many forms of creative writing and ways to get involved if you don’t know where to begin. 

1. Poetry

Writing poetry is one way to express your ideas in a creative manner. You may use imagery and metaphors to convey ideas about everyday life, or you can simply write your explicit thoughts and feelings in poetic form. The way you choose to write your poems is fully up to your own interpretation. If you’re interested in learning more, check out this list of different types of poetry and how to begin writing. 

2. Stories

You may also find enjoyment in writing your own stories. These could be fictional, where you make up your own characters and plot lines. You can also write nonfiction stories or personal essays about events that have happened to you. If you don’t know where to begin, just start writing about yourself—your thoughts, values, feelings, childhood memories, struggles and how you overcame them, or your best friends and how have they impacted you. There are no limits to what you can write about.  

3. Creative writing club

If you want to learn more about creative writing in a group setting, Fontbonne University has its very own creative writing club open to all students. The club is led by Fontbonne student J’von Halbert, who says he started the group “to bring people together through the use of writing and through the use of communicating through poetry.”  

His goal is to provide a space for students “to express themselves creatively and to remove themselves from the school atmosphere.”  

For students who are unsure about trying creative writing, Halbert says, “Creative writing club is for you…Yes, I give you prompts, and yes, I tell you, like, this is generally what it should be, but it’s what you make it.”  

“It’s self-adjustable. It’s however they want to write the poem. It’s however they want to express themselves in that form.”  

If you are at all interested, you can attend a creative writing club meeting on Tuesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. in the East building, room 105.   

So, why write? 

As a young adult who regularly practices personal writing, I find that both journaling and poetry allow me to express myself freely and release ruminating thoughts from my mind.  

Fontbonne University’s Academic Writing Support Coordinator, Matt Nelson, also has many positive things to say about the effects of personal writing. Nelson encourages students to make a regular practice out of writing freely for a few minutes every day: “Making that a daily habit exercises those more sort of long-form writing muscles, which require a little bit more thought, a little bit more effort, a little bit more reflective capacity…”  

Nelson says that over time, “the writing becomes richer, more meaningful, maybe more detailed,” and as a result, it can benefit students’ writing in school and for other public platforms. Nelson encourages students to have fun experimenting with different forms of writing to find what works best for them.  

He also emphasizes that there is no right or wrong way to practice personal writing: “The great thing is the only audience is you… So, who cares if it’s good? I mean, that’s not really what it’s about.” 

What’s amazing about personal writing is that no one has to look at it except for you. It’s not getting turned in for a grade, it’s not getting published for the whole world to see, and there’s absolutely no pressure for it to look, sound, or feel a certain way. You can completely and fully express yourself without fear of judgement or critique. 

In addition, you may find that personal writing improves your overall health and wellness and enhances your communication skills. It provides an easy and accessible way to recognize and express the thoughts, feelings, ideas and inspirations that come to your mind.  

I encourage you to give writing a try! You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. 

I'm a St. Louis native currently studying Professional Writing at Fontbonne University. My special skills include baking, playing music, and dishing out sarcastic comments. If I won the lottery, I would a buy Volkswagen hippie van and a lifetime supply of Nutella and take a road trip across the country with my dog.

1 comment on “Fun Approaches to Personal Writing

  1. Linda Markway CSJ

    Great job Carrie. Lots of good information and awesome suggestions. Thanks for sharing this with the Fontbonne Family.

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