Ask the Readers: Do You Feel Guilty When You Don’t Journal?

When you start taking things seriously, or when you make them into a goal, the guilt for skipping often seeps in. Journaling is no exception. A lot of people decide to journal, and when they don’t do it for a while, they feel bad. They tell themselves, “I should journal” or “I wish I hadn’t skipped” or “I wish I had something to write.”

Do you feel like that? 

There is a fine line between installing a habit and turning it into a chore. If you are new at journaling or haven’t done it regularly before, then yes, you may need a schedule or reminders initially that would make you journal. The best way to achieve it is by making sure you always carry your journal with you. Or make it easier on yourself, and have a list of prompts that you can use (remember, every post here is a prompt. You can use the ACTION point at the end to journal about). But don’t turn it into a chore.

Journaling is about freedom. It’s about being yourself. It’s about making time to record and reflect. If you treat it as something you are forced to do then you lose the essence of it. 


Journal about your journaling habit. How do you feel when you write in your journal? How do you feel when you don’t write? If you do feel guilty, why do you think it is?


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22 thoughts on “Ask the Readers: Do You Feel Guilty When You Don’t Journal?

  1. As you know, I’m not a journaller, but I do feel incredibly guilty when I don’t write for a few days. I also get tense and bad-tempered with the people around me. Writing is my way of expressing myself, and if I’m prevented from doing that over a period of time, for whatever reason, I find it terribly frustrating.

  2. It’s true, I feel a bit guilty, but only because it is my time to clear my head and get things down. If I can’t possibly make time on lunch or break, I will put my journal in my gym bag. That way I will stop on the way home from working out…no excuses. I feel great afterwards.

  3. Joey,

    I think same principle applies to writing writing, as it does to journal writing. But perhaps when it’s your profession, the pressure is slightly more, because you may feel that you are slacking off on your work.

  4. I started journaling about 3 months ago, however when I initially tried, I was hoping to write 7 days a week, even if it was only a sentence or two to actually say that I did write something. That didn’t end up working for me, but I seem to have found a comfortable medium at 4-5 days a week, I write for about 20-30 minutes during my lunch break at work and have found that to be a good balance.

    If I do miss one of those days, I don’t feel guilty per se, but I do feel slightly disappointed in myself that I didn’t do it, and will usually write a sentence of two for the day I missed before writing the current days journal entry.

  5. When I first started journaling, and for the majority of my journaling, I’ve felt extremely guilty when I didn’t write. It had always been my dream to write daily and fill up a journal with just… myself.

    Then, it dawned upon me I don’t have to write everyday. I don’t have to fill up ten pages for an entry. I don’t have to stay up late writing every last thought that comes into my head. I should just do what I can do, what I feel comfortable doing, what fits my schedule. If I don’t feel like journaling, why should I? I will end up making it worse because I think of it that way. If I don’t have the time that day, I’ll have the time the next day. If I can’t get anything on that cruel blank sheet, I can just put it away and try again later.

    And if someone doesn’t agree with me or they just think of it differently, let me tell you the most ironic thing of this whole little story. I discovered the truth of this through my own journaling. As I journaled, I started to see that every little thing that happens to me or that pops into my head doesn’t have to be written down. I realized my journal is MINE; I can choose what goes in and what doesn’t.

    I learned that to truly enjoy journaling, I have to accept. I have to accept that I won’t always finish writing about my weekend trip that day. I have to accept that I won’t always get the chance to take a break from my work to write. I have to accept that there will be those days where I feel like lazing around and just chilling.

    Because I’ve FINALLY(after almost 5 years!) accepted that, I am much more happy and comfortable with my journal.

  6. James,

    It is a very good idea to establish a habit when you are fairly new at journaling. I think you’ve got a good handle on it. If you focus on the purpose of your journaling, the satisfaction you get out of it, then eventually, it may get you to a point when you no longer consciously think about how many times to journal. It will happen alongside life, or at least it works that way for me now.

  7. Jan,

    I totally understand where you are coming from. I especially have that frustration with travel journals, because sometimes I am just too busy travelling, seeing new things, and at the end of the day I am too tired to journal. So I find it incredibly frustrating that I didn’t capture everything. Part of it, I am working on because I do want to enhance my travel journals, but the other part of it is just acceptance that it’s okay :-)

  8. Ive stopped feeling guilty about things in life, i have decided it is a wasteful emotion. I stop and start again, and try not to look back. Keep moving forward

  9. Dolly,
    This is such a common issue with journaling: Feeling guilt when you don’t do it! I think the key to a regular journaling practice is having a purpose and writing what is relevant to you right now. Prompts and topics can be helpful as well. I appreciate your touching on this subject since so many can relate.

    I am an am and pm journal writer; I don’t often miss since I try to get up early enough to get it done before starting my day. It’s simply a part of my routine. And I think the reason it works for me so well is because the benefits have been so tremendous, touching every aspect of life.

    Once you find your rhythm and your groove with your practice, there won’t be a place for guilt. You’ll just journal the way it works for you, and that might change as you do…

    I have chosen your post, Do You Feel Guilty When You Don’t Journal?, for the #JournalChat Pick of the Day on for all things journaling on Twitter;
    I will post a link on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, my blog and website Refresh with Dawn Herring, and in Refresh Journal, my weekly e-journal:

    #JournalChat Live is every Thursday, 5 EST/2 PST, for all things journaling on Twitter; our topic this week is Your Journaling: For the Wiser.

    Thanks for asking this question and providing your insight into the subject of guilt with not journaling.

    Be refreshed,
    Dawn Herring
    Host of #JournalChat Live and Links Edition on Twitter
    Author of The Birthday Wall: Create a Collage to Celebrate Your Child

  10. Ciara,

    That’s the best way. When we feel guilty, we end up wasting a lot more time than if we’d just accept “what’s happened is happened” and move on.

  11. Dawn,

    Like you, journaling is simply a part of my life. I don’t have specific times or days or anything. I journal any time I feel like it, and it’s usually multiple times a day as and when things occur to me rather than waiting for one time.

  12. I’m not journaling regularly, but I used to get this way when I’d try to implement a new habit. If I missed a day, I’d feel guilty and beat myself up over it…Now I try to focus on the positives of actually doing the habit. And if I *still* don’t feel like doing it, I let it go for the day and pick back up the next day. I try not to take things so seriously. =)

  13. Yes, I do feel guilty!

    “It’s about making time to record and reflect.”

    Ah but that’s the problem. I need to force myself to make time to record and reflect, because those behaviors are so unnatural to me.

  14. Kaylee,

    You’ve found a positive way to look at it. With a lot of stuff, we really don’t “have” to do it everyday. It’s more about the quality rather than quantity.

  15. Amit,

    I think that behaviour is unnatural to a lot of people, especially ambitious, high-achievers, including myself. My natural inclination is to run from one task to another, never stopping, until I have to stop because I am exhausted.

    That’s why installing the habit of journaling – which in itself you can treat like a goal – forces you to do that.

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