We all have our reasons for keeping a journal. Some write strictly for personal use while others keep a journal as a learning strategy. Whether you are new to keeping a journal or have been doing it for some time, you might be wondering how long or short should a journal entry be?
The length of the journal entry could be as long or as short as your train of thought at that moment. Writing a journal is an individual form of writing. However, most entries range from merely a sentence up to 1000 words.
The purposes of writing a journal are greatly varied, and there are no limits for what they might entail. This is why the question of how long or short a journal entry should be could have many answers. Journaling also has well-documented benefits.
How Long Should a Journal Entry Be?
A journal entry can be as long as you want it to be - or it can be really short. It’s all up to the writer, their thoughts, and their method. Studies show that journaling has many benefits:
- Being used as a teaching strategy
- Help in dealing with emotional stress.
- A library for memories
- A place to catalog dreams
- A compilation lists, captions or quotes
It’s all up to the keeper of the journal.
The purpose of keeping a journal is to have a small piece of the stream of consciousness of the owner, in the form of the written word. And the length of that is just like you - Individual.
How Many Words Should a Journal Entry be?
Now that we have established how long or short a journal entry can be, there really is no limit for how many words you may or may not write. The sky’s the limit. However, if you desire a ballpark for how many words a journal entry should be a common entry could range from 500 to 1000 words.
Some people might find that writing on a computer might produce more words as it is a fast and easy way of writing. Others prefer the old school approach of a handwritten diary with a tiny lock on it. We all remember the days of keeping a diary under our pillow?
As we get older, our journal style might change, but remember - it’s all individual and up to the writer. If you prefer typing out your thoughts at record speed on the computer - Go for it. And if you prefer writing a few sentences with a calligraphy pen in your diary, then go for that. Journaling is personal, and there are no boundaries.
Benefits of Writing a Journal
Now that the length of the journal entry has been established, let’s dive into the benefits of writing a journal.
Journaling is, as mentioned above, used in therapy and as a teaching strategy, but there are many more benefits of writing a journal, whether it be for personal use or in an academic setting.
Journaling as a Learning Method
Journaling can also be used as a learning strategy where you write down what you just read in a way that you would like to explain it to someone else. You are writing down what you have learned and, at the same time, writing it in a way that makes you internalize the knowledge.
This way, you will stimulate the brain in more than one way and, therefore, more easily remember what you read.
Journaling as a Tool for Emotional Stress Relief
Journaling can function as an emotional stress reliever. Writing out thoughts can help with sorting them and get a clearer picture of what you’re dealing with from an external standpoint. Structuring and organizing your thoughts by writing them out on paper can be a good way of clearing that stress out of your mental space.
Journaling as Reflection
Journaling is widely utilized as a teaching technique to promote reflection amongst its students. The key to this technique is letting the students write freely and without restrictions. Journaling has no template or guidance manual. The journal’s purpose is reflection.
“Reflection is the goal, as everyone is rewarded—the student, the patient, the coach, and the instructor. Reflection enables the student to do a better job as a certified athletic trainer. Isn’t our real goal to enable all of our students to give thought to their actions and perform with the utmost skill, knowledge, and confidence that they have done their jobs in the best possible manner?” Stacy E Walker
Journaling in Therapy
Journaling is also used in therapy. Writing a journal can help with analyzing and coming to terms with previous trauma that may linger and cause distress. It can also help with analyzing and self-assessing, both detrimental in self-improvement, whether it be about traumatic incidents in the past or the future.
Journaling can as shown in Colori’s article Journaling as Therapy help with becoming aware of triggers or fears, and then be able to learn what to do when faced with them in the future.
“Most importantly, I use my journal to identify the things I am afraid of. One of the most difficult parts of trauma is being afraid of something and not knowing what exactly it is, so having a journal has cleared space in my mind to write about a fear and analyze that particular fear.” - Steve Colori
Coloris’ article is from Oxford University’s Schizophrenia Bulletin, where he talks about the benefits of keeping a journal in dealing with the metaphysics of his life.
Using Journaling as Daily Gratitude Practice
The most successful people in various industries all have one thing in common. A daily gratitude practice. A daily gratitude practice is simple, and the magic lies in the words. You practice gratitude daily.
Every morning you should take some time to sit down and think about a few things that you are grateful for. It can be as simple as being grateful for the smell of freshly brewed coffee, or it can be that you are grateful for simply being alive this day. Anything goes. It is your gratitude practice.
This practice of writing down the things you are grateful for will provide you a great start to a day filled with positive energy. This vibrating energy of gratitude can make a great impact on life and is highly recommended all over social media nowadays.
Here is an example of a daily gratitude list:
- The taste of freshly brewed coffee
- Getting enough sleep last night
- Being able to cook a hot meal for my family
- Being able to go for a run
- Having a job to go to
The practice of gratitude is worth a try. Just like a journal entry can be as long or short as you want it to be, there are no rules for your practice. Simply devote a few minutes every morning to be grateful. There are so many things to be grateful for in this life. Even on the rainiest days, this practice will help in getting anyone out of that funk.
There are many uses for journaling, as well as benefits. Whatever your reason for keeping a journal, the length of your entries will be up to you and your method. You may choose to keep each of your entries consistent, or you may wish to free-write for as long as it takes to get your thoughts and feelings from pen to paper.