Stream of Consciousness Journaling: 10 Best Benefits

What is stream of consciousness journaling? Learn how this journaling style can help you capture and write your thoughts without rules, and explore the benefits of this writing style.

Stream-of-consciousness journaling is a style of free writing that allows you to write your thoughts as they come. For example, in fiction writing, stream of consciousness allows the author to share the character‘s thoughts without concern for punctuation, grammar, and syntax. You can do the same thing in your journal, allowing you to record your interior monologue as thoughts come to you.

What Is Stream of Consciousness Journaling?

Stream of consciousness journaling is not a daily diary. While you can write about your daily happenings, this is not the goal of this type of journal. Instead, it is a chance for you to explore the thoughts and ideas inside your mind without rules or formatting so that you can unload them all into your journal. 

Stream of Consciousness is found in many works of literature, stream of consciousness poetry is popular because of the less strict syntax of poetic verse, but it can also be found in fiction literature. Virginia Woolf and James Joyce are two well-known authors for their examples of stream of consciousness writing, giving the reader insight into the thoughts and intentions of the main characters by simply writing out their thoughts.

How to Make a Stream of Consciousness Journal

The process is pretty simple if you are interested in stream of consciousness journaling. It is not a chance to write about your day or emotions, though those can come into play. Instead, it is a place to dump all of your thoughts into one specific location. To start, pick up your journal and write about what is on your mind.

It may be as simple as the quality of the pen or paper you’re writing on. Write until you are done with the thoughts in your head and move on with your day. It’s that simple. If you have true writer’s block, start with simply writing, “I have nothing to write.” Then, keep writing that phrase until something pops into your mind besides that. Finally, remember that this type of writing has no rules. Misspellings and grammar mistakes are perfectly acceptable.

Benefits of Stream of Consciousness Journaling

Stream of conscious writing as a journaling practice has several clear benefits. Here are some of them.

1. Avoid Overthinking

Overthinking is common among people who journal daily. They are focused so intensely on writing engaging journal entries that they fail to get their thoughts down because they are overthinking what they write. Stream of consciousness journaling does not allow you to do this. Instead, you write thoughts as they come to you. Then, as you analyze this internal monologue, you can think through them later if you wish.

2. Go on a Journey of Self-Discovery

When you write without thinking, you can go on a journey of self-discovery. First, you can learn about your internal emotions and how they affect you personally. Then, when you are done with this type of writing, you have a clear picture of your thoughts and mental behaviors. Whether you choose a bullet journal or a longhand journal, writing with the stream of consciousness style will give you clear insight into your thought processes, making you more reflective.

3. Stop Writer’s Block

Beat writer's block
Anyone can beat writer’s block

Daily journaling can be challenging, and the stream of consciousness technique can help when you find yourself in a funk with your writing. You can take a journal prompt and run with it, getting your thoughts out of your head and onto paper. You don’t have to constantly use stream of consciousness journaling when facing writer’s block. Sometimes you can choose art journaling, using images to convey your thoughts instead of words, or gratitude journaling, which lets you list all of the things you are thankful for, but the tool is there when you want it and need to get over your writer’s block.

4. Learn to Be Vulnerable

Because the stream of consciousness puts every thought onto the page, you will learn how to be vulnerable, at least with yourself. You will discover your voice with this vulnerability, too.

Many journal writers find it challenging to be vulnerable, and the stream of consciousness writing technique makes it more accessible. However, learning to be vulnerable can help with your journey to wellness.

5. Explore Your Thinking Patterns

One of the beautiful things about stream of consciousness writing is that you don’t think about it much. You write. When you look back and read what you wrote, you get insight into your thinking patterns. If you can identify problematic thinking patterns through your writing, you can change those patterns and learn to think more positively or healthily.

6. Make Decisions

One thing you will find with stream of consciousness writing is that it helps you make decisions. So if you have any serious issues you’re pondering, you can write about them in this style, and you might find yourself concluding. Even if you don’t conclude, you’ll get immediate feedback about your thoughts and feelings on the topic. This can help guide your thoughts as you reach a final decision.

7. Discover Your Writing Style

You might find that stream of consciousness writing in your journal helps you discover your writing style. Because there are no rules, you will not be tempted to adhere to a writing style that isn’t yours. Take what you see on the page after a time of stream of consciousness journaling, and see if a writing style emerges. If it does, then focus on building that style. You might discover that you are good at writing in a particular style you never knew.

8. Release Your Mental Load

You gain a powerful release when you practice stream of consciousness writing. You can release the thoughts and feelings that are clouding up your mind. this gives you the ability to think more clearly. Often, this mental load will weigh a person down. However, when you release it through this writing technique, you can move about your day with freed thinking and a more evident mindset.

9. Decide Which Thoughts and Feelings Are Worth Keeping

When you commit your thinking to paper in this way, you gain the freedom to decide which ideas you want to keep and which you want to release. This particular benefit is freeing in that it allows you to release those thought processes and feelings that are not serving you well. By seeing them on paper, you can often realize that they are not benefitting you more efficiently, allowing you to release those thoughts.

10. Create New Ideas

Finally, this style of journaling can help you create new ideas. Because you are releasing your thoughts and not following writing rules, you will quickly learn new ideas from the process. If you aren’t sure how to get started, consider the Morning Pages, an exercise from the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It will teach you how to get started with this style of journaling and use it to create new ideas. With this guidance, you can turn a stream of consciousness journal into an exciting resource full of new thoughts and ideas for yourself as a writer and person.

When editing for grammar, we also recommend taking the time to improve the readability score of a piece of writing before publishing or submitting.

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  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.