The Easiest (and most fun) Way to Start a Journaling Habit


Have you ever been reading and found yourself asking what would I do? You put yourself in the scenarios of the people in the books you’re reading and wonder if you’d make the same choice.

You find out that a teenage vampire boy is watching you sleep. Would you do? No, I mean, what would you actually do? You find yourself in the world of Besgiath War College and have to make a choice between being a scribe or a rider. What do you pick?

This, my friends, is the beginning of some magic.

Intentional Habits

In our quest for contentment and a more intentional life, we often seek tools and practices that can guide us toward these goals. Journaling is a habit that I, and so many others, recommend because it is a truly powerful habit.

Journaling can help you cultivate contentment, gratitude, resilience, authenticity, and generally help you to know yourself better. Because this post isn’t a run-down of all of the amazing benefits of journaling, I’m linking an article here that talks more about the benefits (if you need some extra convincing).

If you’re a skeptic I hope you’ll keep reading because this blog may just change your mind. No, I won’t try to win you over with a list of stats and benefits. Rather, through sharing one of my most fun exercises that barely feels like journaling (if you’re a reader).

Reading as the Catalyst

Let’s get straight to the point. Reading can be the catalyst to starting or enhancing a journaling practice— no notes required.

Although you can do this for any genre of book, I personally think it works best with fiction.

Why? Because non-fiction readers tend to read with an intention of learning or application. So, this is already built in*.* Most of us read fiction for fun or pleasure and it can put us into scenarios that are way beyond those we could experience in our own lives.

We can be put into situations with cheating partners, witnessing murders, corrupt space governments, or dragon riding.

This can be part of the joy of reading, and also make for impactful reflection.

The ask is simple: after you’ve read a book (hopefully one you enjoyed) ask yourself the questions you’ve had while reading. Or, put yourself into the shoes of the characters at various points in the book, not as the character, but as yourself. Ask yourself what would you do? What would you do differently or similarly? What does this choice say about you? Are you ok with what this choice says about you?

By introspecting on some of these questions you can come to learn some wonderful and hard truths about yourself.

A Personal Example

I did this just a few days ago after a reading marathon of Fourth Wing and Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros.

While reading (no spoilers here unless you truly know nothing about the book) I had this uncomfortable feeling that if I were put into this world (as me) without having read this book, I’d probably choose not to be a rider but a scribe. I wondered what that say about me? Am I ok with what this says about me? Why does this feel like the inferior choice?

I also wondered what I would do with faced with some of the choice Violet was. If presented with the choice to rebel against something I considered wrong would I do it? Would I do it even if I didn’t like all the people involved? If there was a good chance of death?

I wondered what it would take to get through 3 years of college there? And, did everyone necessarily need the same thing? I felt that at the very least you needed a strong sense of self-preservation. This could carry you a long way if you didn’t have confidence like some cadets (cough Xaden cough). Xaden, along with other cadets like Bodhi, Liam, and Imogen, have a very clear sense of purpose too. I’d also argue mental strength.

I think most able bodied people can be taught to fight. Mental strength, on the other hand? You can learn through experience, but I don’t this this can be taught. Would I have the mental strength to endure? Would I have the confidence, self-preservation or purpose?

I answered all of these questions and explored more personal questions on resiliency, failure, victimhood, and mental strength. Who would I be if all the BS of life was stripped away?

I think you get the point.


If you’re new to journaling or seeking to establish a consistent practice, aligning it with your reading habits can be incredibly powerful.

Journaling after reading will create a link between these habits and it would be a form of habit stacking. With this, you can establish a consistent journaling practice. If you’re already a reader this habit can also bring more to the reding experience as you get to immerse yourself in the world a little longer.

The goal with this exercise isn’t a reflection on the book (what you like/don’t like, if it has merit, plot devices etc) but using the book to reflect on yourself.

The best time to journal would be in the first 24-48 hours after reading when things are most fresh and before you start another reading project.

Where to start

You can write down quotes or questions while you read, but if that’s a barrier to reading or journaling don’ worry about it.

If you’re not sure where to start, start with a question about an early event. What would you do if you were a human brought across the wall to live with the Fae in Prythian? Would you try to escape? Would you accept your fate?

Go with your gut or immediate reactions, thoughts, questions, and feelings. If something made your jealous, scared, intimidated, happy. If a small moment or quote was powerful. Why?

Sometimes a passage, chapter, or plot point in a book can make you feel “off “ or maybe just kick-ass.

Personal Takeaways

Although I’ve been using mostly fantasy books as reference here, it still applies to any genre. You don’t have to analyze or journal about every single book you read, but don’t discount a genre or a book because you consider it light, fluffy, or absurd.

One of the most impactful takeaways that has resonated with me for nearly five years was from a short romance books about a cupcake shop. There was nothing new or novel about that book and I read it as a palate cleanser after a book hangover.

Fiction books often make taking chances on yourself or “picking yourself back up” seem really easy. You know, someone gets fired from a job, and they drink and wallow for a week, and then all of a sudden they’re pounding the pavement to turn their secret love of baking into a business. They take a chance and open it and it’s a success?

Taking a chance on yourself may not be that easy in reality, but the decision to take a chance on yourself can be. In reflection on how this concept made me feel I realized that I had very rarely, if ever, taken a chance on myself. If I was going to take a chance on anyone in this world it should be me. I remind myself of that at least once a month.

More Suggestions

Journaling provides a gateway to self-reflection and self-discovery.

You can be as critical or reflective as you’d like. But there’s no real rules here.

You can use as varied or as narrow reading materials as you like. You can consider character arcs, or even explore a philosophical or foundational element of the word. Perhaps even journal as a character might in a book.

If you have a beloved series or book maybe even journal about a situation that arose in your life through their perspective. Ex. what would Harry Potter do? You don’t need to take this as truth or even use the info, but these kinds of exercises can stretch our perspectives in good ways.

Lastly, if you’re looking to delve in deep, comparing characters or situations across books can be wonderfully fun. I most recently made a very potent revelation comparing situations between Violet from Fourth Wing, Feyre from ACOTAR, and Paige from Bone Season.


Starting a journaling practice can feel intimidating, especially staring at the blank page. Reading can be a way in to starting a practice or enhancing an existing one. It can add variety and fun to your practice, and make journaling far more accessible.

Besides, the best journaling practice is the one you can stick too. There’s no real way to screw it up. You’re doing journaling “right” as long as you’re doing it. I hope this blog entices you to give this practice a try.

Interested in more content? Check out this post on the most common shopping triggers.

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