Have you ever read one of those articles titled something like, "Journaling: what successful people do everyday"?

I don't know about you, but that used to always make me feel stupid for not fully grasping the ways it would help me, or feel like a failure because everyone seemed to be doing it but me.

I had this vision in my mind of people writing ten to thirty pages of self-inflated nonsense every day, what they wore and who they liked and didn't like at work or whatever. So juvenile.

Of course, that kind of journaling seemed like a humongous waste of time and of no practical use to our lives. Besides 12 year old girls, who has time for that?

(I'm not even sure 12 year old girls have time for that, tbh.)

But here's the thing: I'd been looking at journaling all wrong. It really doesn't have to start with "Dear Diary". And instead of a vague, time wasting exercise, it can be a powerful way to help you stay creative and confident. So here are a few quick alternative questions you can use to help you journal quickly and efficiently every day.

"What's in my head?"

You can use your journal as a place to free write and to jot down all the thoughts, feelings, and ideas you've got inside you. This is great for people who like to see the big picture in order to decide a focus for their day.

If you ask yourself this question when you're struggling with ideas or problems, your creative mind will be stimulated by the activity and most of the time you'll find a solution you wouldn't have thought of otherwise.

"Are there any problems I need to solve right now?"

Start your journal with this question and you'll soon find yourself with a list of reasons why you've been stuck recently. Although it seems like a negative question, what it does is allows you to objectively look at the issues you have and decide whether there are genuine concerns that need to be addressed.

"How am I actually feeling right now?" 

Naming your emotions is an essential part of developing your emotional intelligence, which improves your levels of empathy, which helps you create better characters and create deeper connections with your readers. Often the results can surprise you, especially when you look closely.

There can be a lot more behind generic emotions like sad, happy or scared than you think, and you could learn a lot about yourself.

"What kind of things did I learn today?"

I often find myself telling my significant other, "I've had a big revelation today..." then I proceed to talk their ear off about it. This happens literally 5 or more times a week, and it is usually summarised in a short, timeless statement like, "All great people have teams behind them". Why not compile these thoughts in one place?

Now that you know a few of the ways journaling can help you, why not try one out today? It's pretty simple: choose a question, then free write until you feel better.

When you get results, do come back and let me know how this helped you.

Stephanie Lennox is an award-winning author, keynote speaker, holistic writing coach and wellness advocate. She’s also the founder of The Authorship Program®, a 12-week immersive experience that helps writers conquer fear in their creative lives. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Please share this post: