Discover more from The Isolation Journals with Suleika Jaouad
New Year's Journaling Challenge FAQ
Everything you need to know!
Our third annual New Year’s journaling challenge is back by popular demand, and we’re so excited to reprise this practice! For me, this time of year is always so generative, and I can’t wait for this opportunity to reflect, recharge, and renew.
We asked for your input and designed this program around your needs: creative inspiration, ritual building and help with consistency. We also answered some of your most common questions below—from how to join to what to do if you miss a day. If you have more, drop them in the comments section!
How does the New Year’s journaling challenge work?
We’re sending out everything you need for the journaling challenge via the Isolation Journals newsletter, starting with today’s newsletter. This offering includes:
a week of prompts to get you into a creative flow—find them here!
a live journaling session on Sunday, January 8 from 1-2 pm for connection and accountability (Zoom link will be emailed on Jan 7)
and a recorded conversation between me and my beloved Jon Batiste about life and the creative process and everything in between. The conversation will be fueled by your questions, so send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
As for how to sign up—there’s no special registration. Just make sure you’re subscribed!
Is there a fee?
Our Sunday newsletter with the weekly prompt is free. The journaling challenge is one of our paid subscriber benefits ($6/mo or $60/year).
The Isolation Journals is a reader-supported publication. We’ve always said no to ads or sponsorships because it just didn’t feel right for this community. We rely instead on your generosity to keep the Isolation Journals going.
We call the Isolation Journals a newsletter because that’s how it’s delivered, but it’s really so much more than that. It’s a creative community. It’s call and response. It’s a place where we walk through our most difficult passages together.
Of course we want this to be accessible to all, so we do offer scholarships. If the paid subscription feels out of reach, please email us at email@example.com and we’ll comp you. No explanation needed, no questions asked.
What if I’m not a “writer”?
The beautiful thing about journaling is that it’s for everyone. It’s a rare creative space where you get to be your most unedited self. You don’t need any special skills—just paper and a writing instrument.
There’s so much research that demonstrates the mental and physical health benefits of journaling. I just know it’s magic on a personal and experiential level. I’ve been keeping a journal since I was about seven years old—when I couldn’t spell, when I was still learning English as a second language. Over the holidays, my mom showed me this manila folder of poems and journal entries she had saved. All the errors are what make them so special and delightful.
I still feel that way about my journal now. It holds space for everything—the good and the bad, the highs and the lows, the grocery lists and the angsty rants and also moments of pure poetry. That both the expectations and the stakes are so low is what makes this practice so wonderfully freeing.
Can I journal on a laptop?
I do think there’s something powerful about writing by hand, but you can journal in any way that makes sense for you—be it on a laptop, on your phone, with a fancy fountain pen or a pencil stub. Choose whatever medium is most inviting and inspiring and makes you want to return.
Can you come to my home, pull me out of bed, and motivate me? 🤣 Seriously though…
Yes—at least figuratively! What I love most about this annual challenge is how much energy we get from each other. It’s such a charge, knowing that thousands of other people are getting themselves to the page (or the canvas, the guitar, the dance floor).
What if I start late?
It’s fine! I love starting a new challenge on the first of the year, but these are evergreen prompts. If it’s Day 3, you can either jump in there, or you can start at the beginning. Whatever feels right to you!
What if I miss a day?
There’s a fine line between mustering the discipline to see things through and putting the kind of pressure on yourself that makes you freeze up. If you miss a day, call in some self-compassion. Try to love the lapses. Then just pick it back up.
I want to participate, but I’m short on time and flexibility.
This practice is for you, so you can spend as much or as little time as you want on it. If you’re inspired, by all means, let yourself get carried away. But if you’re short on time, or have an inflexible schedule, do what it takes to make it fit.
When I’ve journaled most consistently, a page count or timer set for 10 minutes is what has helped me stick with it. So on the days when I’m running late, or my day goes awry, I can’t make excuses.
Another trick is to fold it into your routine—to pair it with a non-negotiable. What has worked for me is three pages (obviously choosing the paper size that works for you!) while drinking my coffee. Coffee is non-negotiable for me. If yours is a morning walk, pair it with that—just open your voice memo app and let yourself muse.
All to say, as with all of our challenges, you should tailor this project to meet your needs.