Journaling is one of those things that may seem intimidating at first, because let’s face it, writing might not come naturally to you and putting your thoughts down on paper where anyone can read them is downright terrifying.

It’s time to look at things differently!

There’s no “right” way to journal. You just need to a good notebook, a comfortable pen, and the ability to put words or images on the page. That’s all there is to it!

Here are some tips for beginners on how to start journaling:

  • Choose a dedicated time of the day to write.
  • Just write without any real plan.
  • Answer specific prompts/topics.
  • Write lists.
  • Keep a journal for different topics like dreams, fitness, or travel.
  • Try bullet journaling.
  • Create a photo journal if you’re more visual.

Choose a Dedicated Time of the Day

What time of the day is the most relaxed for you? Is it the morning while you’re having breakfast? How about the evening right after your kids go to bed? Carve out a specific time to journal – whatever works best with your lifestyle!

Here are a few ideas:

Waiting for Your Coffee to Brew

Pick up your notebook and do some journaling while the coffee is brewing and cooling down. You can sit right at your kitchen table and get in an easy five to ten minutes, with the reward of delicious caffeine at the end!

Sitting on the Couch Watching Netflix

Bring new meaning to the idea of Netflix and chill and have an open journal sitting in your lap. The opening credits, or that 15 seconds between the end of one episode and the beginning of another, is plenty of time to jot down your thoughts.

Getting Ready to Go to Sleep

While laying in bed, grab your notebook off the nightstand and take some time for writing. A spiral notebook is best since it will stay open and be easy for you to write in while propped up on a pillow.

Everybody’s lifestyle is different, so if you want to journal while on the toilet instead of reading a magazine, more power to you! Do whatever you have to do to fit it into your daily routine.

Just Write

Now that you know when you’re going to journal, the next step is figuring out what you’re going to write. My best advice:  Don’t think so hard. Simply pick up the pen and write whatever you want, whether it’s a list of things that make you happy, a rant about your boss, or random words with no rhyme or reason.

A blank page can make you feel like a deer in headlights, but you can overcome that feeling. Ignore all those thoughts about what the journal should be, and do what you feel like doing in the moment. Also, don’t worry about grammar and spelling. The grammar police are nowhere to be found!

Unsure What to Say? Answer Specific Prompts

Part of the fun of keeping a journal is thinking about things you might not normally think about. If freewriting seems too open-ended, you can add structure to your journaling with specific prompts.

Here are some fun writing prompts to try:

  1. If you could meet any movie character, who would you want to meet and why?

  2. How do you feel about love at first sight?

  3. Do you think you’re more introverted or extroverted?

  4. What advice would you give your child self now that you’re an adult?

  5. What do you like and dislike about your job? How can you make it better?

  6. The moment I’m most proud of is when I….

  7. Write a quote that really speaks to you and share why.

  8. Pretend you’re on a deserted island. What are 3 things you absolutely would want to have?

  9. Describe your ideal day from beginning to end.

  10. Who is your role model? Why do you look up to this person?

Do you want something specific to your lifestyle? The chart below has specific prompts for the top 5 industries in the United States! 

Choose any of the prompts above that speak to you, or opt to do at least one every single day. You can also find a more ideas online with a quick Google search, or come up with new, creative ideas on your own.

Writing can be therapeutic in many ways. You can find journal prompts for dealing with anxiety, mental health, and achieving success. Look into your options and pick up your pen!

…Or Write Lists

Some of us don’t want to write a novel and are much more about the quick facts. Good news! You can also compile a bunch of lists in your journal.

This infographic has a bunch of ideas for you to try!

There are a ton of different lists you can create, all because it’s fun to do. Try to reach a certain number for each list, like your top 10 favorite movies or 100 things you’re grateful for in life.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll actually go on that vacation or accomplish those long term goals!

Keep a Dedicated Journal for Different Topics

Maybe all of this sounds like a good time, and you’re so inspired, you want to keep more than one journal. You can do that!

Journals are fairly inexpensive, which means the world is your oyster. If you so desire, keep a notebook for each of the following:

  • Life
  • Fitness
  • Dreams
  • Food
  • Travel

Life

This is your go-to journal when you just want to take some time out of your busy day to write something down, whatever that may be. You can also use this notebook to answer your writing prompts or make your lists.

Fitness

Write the date at the top of the page and then reflect on your fitness for the day. Were those last few reps a bit challenging? What do you want to focus on tomorrow? Put all your thoughts down and then read them next month to see how much you’re improving.

Dreams

Some people believe dreams are a window to your soul. You can analyze your dreams and understand how you’re feeling at any given moment. It’ll be easier to keep track of these little night movies with a good journal.

Food

Food journals are mainly for those who want to have a healthier diet. You can use these pages to jot down recipes, keep track of your calories, and write down lunch ideas for work. It’s an easy way to see what you’re consuming, so you can adjust where and when needed.

Travel

You’re visiting new parts of the world, which means you might be trying new foods, interacting with unique cultures, and having fun, first-time experiences. A travel journal is a good way to document, and maybe even share all you do and see.

Give Bullet Journaling a Try

Bullet journaling is an art form. It’s a quick, easy way to keep track of all your lists and bring organization into your life. Are you a busy professional? Do you thrive on tasks? This might be a good journal for you to try!

Here’s how it works: 

You are going to keep 3 different logs – a daily log, a monthly log, and a future log.

The daily log has bullet points listing all the things you need to do that day. The monthly log is a typical monthly calendar with a list of things you need to do that month and things you forgot to do last month. The future log has the entire year at a glance, with a calendar that you can use to write down events, goals, and long-term projects you need to complete.

These 3 logs work in tandem with one another. You will constantly consult the future log to help you plan out the monthly and daily log. The end goal is for you to accomplish everything you want to in a given year.

Photo Journaling is Also an Option

You might be more visual, which is why photo journaling is a great alternative to writing.

Go all out and create a scrapbook with photos that show how you feel, your recent travels, or just things that make you happy. You can get all the same benefits of keeping a journal, only using pictures instead of words. 

What Are the Benefits of Journaling?

You’ve probably heard it before, but journaling is actually a good practice for you to start. Studies and psychology experts have discussed in great length why that’s the case.

Here’s what the research says about the benefits of journaling:

  • Increases happiness
  • Good for stress management
  • Aids in self-improvement
  • Expresses creativity
  • Allows you to manage anxiety
  • Boosts your memory
  • Keeps you organized
  • Makes you more likely to achieve goals
  • Helps you process difficult emotions
  • Offers similar benefits as meditation

A few pieces of paper can do an incredible amount for your overall well-being. What’s the harm in giving it a try?

What Are the Best Notebooks for Journaling?

Now that you’re ready to start a journal, let’s get you a good one to call your own. The best notebooks for journaling have a stylish cover, are easy to open and close, and are filled with plenty of lined pages for your thoughts.

These custom notebooks are all excellent choices!

You can order these in bulk, which is excellent if you want to encourage a large group to start journaling, like your employees, students, or volunteers. Each journal comes printed with your design, which makes them more unique than your average store-bought variety.

Final Thoughts

Journaling should never feel like homework or a chore. You’re doing it because it’s fun and good for your health. If it becomes stressful, maybe it’s not a habit you need to start including in your lifestyle.

Get a stylish notebook that you’ll love seeing every day and just get started! It can be a life journal, a bullet journal, a photo journal, or anything else that works for you. Your thoughts matter and this is a great way to get them all out there!

References

Jofelo. (2018, July 10). The 17 Different Types of Journals that will Keep Your Life Organized. Retrieved from, https://www.jofelo.com/17-different-types-of-journals-to-keep/

Fabrega, M. 119 Journal Prompts for Your Journal Jar. Retrieved from, https://daringtolivefully.com/journal-prompts

Fitzpatrick, K. (2018, July 3). 5 Reasons Why You Should Keep a Dream Journal. Retrieved from, https://thriveglobal.com/stories/5-reasons-why-you-should-keep-a-dream-journal/

Miller, R. Sunakawa, E. (2016, May 31). WTF is a Bullet Journal and Why Should You Start One? Retrieved from, https://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelwmiller/how-to-start-a-bullet-journal

Paper and Packaging. Pen, Paper, Power! Five Benefits of Journal Writing. Retrieved from, https://www.howlifeunfolds.com/personal-productivity/pen-paper-power-five-benefits-journal-writing

University of Rochester Medical Center. Journaling for Mental Health. Retrieved from, https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentID=4552&ContentTypeID=1

Deutsch, A. (2019, February 14). The 5 Industries Driving the U.S. Economy. Retrieved from, https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/042915/5-industries-driving-us-economy.asp

About the author

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is a promo expert with over three years of experience in the industry. Her passion for writing has led to a BA in English & Communications from Aurora University and work published for the Advertising Specialty Institute and The Bolingbrook Sun Times.