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The Origin Story

I get this question often: why did you create the UNJRNL? People are usually surprised by my answer I am a writer by trade. I am literally employed to do copy writing and narrative design work. I do freelance writing and I also write fiction. It’s safe to say that writing is one of my passions but one of the greatest challenges that I’ve ever experienced is keeping a consistent journal. The main reason it’s been so challenging for me is because I’ve always approached journaling in the wrong way.

Good journaling shouldn’t be pretty.

Journaling is something that tends to happen at the end of the day when your mental or emotional capacity is depleted. A journal is supposed to act as a place for you to vent your thoughts about what happened during the day. Whenever I would sit down to journal, I would take somewhat of an artful approach I would attempt to write with a certain level of inspiration worthy of published work rather than treating my journal as a simple tool to reflect, and at the end of a taxing day, “inspired” writing becomes virtually impossible.

What I found was on some nights inspiration would, in fact, hit me and I’d write for pages and pages with words strung together like beautiful pearls on a necklace and other nights I sit down and I’d try to replicate that inspiration only to find that I was so mentally and emotionally depleted that inspiration could not meet me where I was with my journal. Those moments became very discouraging, to say the least, and I would soon stop my new “habit” of journaling because I felt as though the work wasn’t worthy of being continued.

The Original UNJRNL

It’s like showering but with a pen and paper.

It wasn’t until I started tracking my habits that it clicked, journaling is not about artful beautiful prose or poetic reflections on life, journaling is all about self-care and self-care in any of its forms is not necessarily beautiful. When we think about a simple self-care task like taking a shower, there is nothing inherently glamorous about it. Taking a shower is literally about washing away the dirt, grime, and odor your body has accumulated during the day. In the same way, journaling should be about washing away the dirt, grime, and odor of the tiring and emotionally taxing occurrences of your day.

Keep it super simple.

The UNJRNL system helps you to track basic habits like drinking water or keeping in contact with friends or walking the dog. These are very basic uninspired “unartful” tasks. It also prioritizes reflection in a very clean and concise manner. The reflection section only gives room for 1 to 2 sentences, not pages upon pages of inspired words. These two sentences can be about how you can do better tomorrow or something that you were happy about accomplishing today.

…journaling is not about artful beautiful prose or poetic reflections on life, journaling is all about self-care…

Always say “thank you.”

The most important component of the UNJRNL system is gratitude reflection. Simply appreciating something in your life like your children, your partner, your job the oxygen in your lungs, clothes on your back, the roof over your head; these seemingly basic things, when given proper attention, allow us to experience a sort of Catharsis that you can’t experience when you are too focused on whether your words are beautiful.

My hope is that others will experience what I have: the beauty of creating good habits, the beauty of simple but useful reflective words, and the beauty of gratitude through adopting the UNJRNL system for themselves.

-ryan, Creator of UNJRNL

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