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There’s no denying the therapeutic power of journaling. Taking a few minutes each day to document your thoughts, feelings, and experiences can help you process difficult emotions, gain clarity on your goals and values, and boost your mental and emotional well-being.
If you’re new to journaling, the prospect of getting started can feel daunting. But it doesn’t have to be!
In this post, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about learning how to journal for beginners. Including how to find the right type of journaling for you, what kind of journal or notebook to use, and specific tips for maintaining and optimizing your journaling routine on a daily basis.
- What Is Journaling?
- What Are The Benefits?
- Step-By-Step How To Start A Journal For Beginners
- 1. Finding The Right Type Of Journaling For You
- 2. What's The Best Journal For Beginners To Start With?
- 3. Gather Your Journaling Supplies
- 4. Find A Schedule That Works For You
- 5. Set Your Journaling Goals & Expectations
- 6. How To Decide What To Write In Your Journal
- How To Journal For Beginners: Start Your Journey Today!
- Further Resources On How To Journal For Beginners:
What Is Journaling?
Journaling is a process of recording your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a regular and ongoing way. It can be a helpful tool for exploring your emotions, sorting out your thoughts, and managing stress.
When you journal, you can choose to write about anything that’s on your mind. There are no rules about what you should or shouldn’t write about.
You can use journaling to record your daily activities, track your progress towards goals, or simply vent about what’s bugging you.
Some people find it helpful to set aside time each day for journaling, while others prefer to write only when they feel the need.
There is no “right” way to journal – the important thing is to find a method that works for you. (And hopefully, this post will give you plenty of ideas to get started!)
What Are The Benefits?
If you’re new to journaling, the idea of filling up pages with your thoughts and feelings can seem like you need to start writing high-school essays again.
But the truth is, you don’t need to be an amazing writer or have anything interesting to say. All you need is a willingness to explore your inner thoughts and feelings.
There are many benefits to journaling, such as:
1. Improved Mental and Emotional Health: Regular journaling can help regulate your emotions, combat negative thoughts, and even help you cope with psychological threats, stress, and anxiety.
2. Clarity of Goals: Writing down your goals, dreams, and aspirations can help make them more concrete and focused, giving you a clear path to follow in order to achieve them.
3. Improved Productivity: Keeping track of your progress over time can help you stay motivated and on task. This lets you focus more effectively on getting things off your to-do list.
4. Increased Self-Awareness: By documenting how you feel each day, journaling can help you gain an understanding of how certain events and experiences have impacted you.
5. Process Your Emotions: Writing in a journal can give you a safe place to share your feelings. Just writing down how you feel can be a great way to process your emotions instead of ignoring or bottling them up.
6. Boost Your Creativity: Spending some time journaling can feel mentally freeing. Getting things down onto paper can give you a sense that you don’t need to carry things around in your headspace anymore. When your brain doesn’t feel cluttered or overwhelmed, it’s much easier for your creativity to start sparking off ideas.
Step-By-Step How To Start A Journal For Beginners
Many people find the idea of starting a journal intimidating. They worry about what to write, how often to write, and whether anyone will sneak a peek and read it.
But the truth is that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to journaling. The most important thing is to just start writing. Don’t worry about making it perfect or profound. Just allow yourself to write whatever comes into your head.
It can be a stream of consciousness, a list of things you’re grateful for, or simply a record of your day-to-day activities.
The key is to just get started and see where the journey takes you. Who knows? You may just find that journaling is one of the most rewarding things you’ve ever done.
But if you’re the kind of person who likes things a bit more structured and actionable. Here are some important steps to consider that are perfect for discovering how to journal for beginners.
1. Finding The Right Type Of Journaling For You
The first step in how to journal for beginners and putting it into practice is finding the right type of journaling for you.
- What do you hope to gain from journaling?
- Are you looking to process difficult emotions?
- Do you want to track your progress on personal or professional goals?
- Would you like to boost your creativity?
- Do you want to get the most out of your favorite hobby or routine?
Once you know what you hope to get out of journaling, you can choose a method that aligns with your intentions.
Some popular types of journaling include:
- Gratitude journaling – best for cultivating an attitude of gratitude.
- Stream-of-consciousness writing – great for brain-dumping and keeping your head clear from clutter and overwhelm.
- Bullet journaling – is best for exploring your imagination and sparking creativity while staying organized and structured. It usually involves less writing than other types.
- Travel journaling – perfect for capturing your experiences while on the road.
- Creativity journaling – a great companion for inspiration, trying new things, and developing your skills in drawing, painting, crafts, and even creative writing.
- Self-reflective and self-development – best for reflecting on how you want to live your life each day and making improvements over time.
- Mood and habit tracking – simple and easy journaling to help you track, self-reflect, and try to break down your goals into smaller chunks.
- Mindfulness journaling – great for using alongside mindfulness activities like meditation or affirmations, as well as developing calm and balance in your life.
- Shadow Work journaling – one of the best types of journals for dealing with difficult emotions and becoming the best, most authentic version of yourself.
- Positivity journaling – is a great way to look for the good in every day, work on your positive mindset, and manifest how you want your life to be.
- Mental Health journaling – great for those struggling with mental health issues, seeking healing, and improving mental wellness overall.
- Self-care journaling – for those looking for ways to make time and prioritize themselves in their schedule. (#)
- Dream journaling – is a great way to explore your dreams, set goals, and become aware of how they link with your waking life.
- Book or reading journaling – perfect for those who love to read and want a way to record and reflect on the stories that have made an impact in their lives.
2. What’s The Best Journal For Beginners To Start With?
Once you know what type of journal you want to start, the next step is to decide what format you want to use. Here are some popular choices to give you ideas:
Journal or notebook
The most obvious choice is to go for a journal or notebook to use for your journaling. It’s simple and easy to carry around with you (depending on the size).
You’ll want to consider things like:
- Paper quality
- Cover style + durability
- Paper guides – dotted, lined, grid, or plain
- Generic or a journal specialized for specific needs
Some ideas you could try are:
- Moleskine journal – creative, classic, durable and comes in a variety of styles and colors.
- Pocket notebook – for keeping your journal handy
- Dotted Journal – ideal for bullet journaling and creating your own layouts
Don’t let the name deceive you; Happy Planners are great for journaling and planning all-in-one.
There are so many designs and layouts to choose from. Plus, they have the ability to let you add and remove pages for customization, making it a bit like a hybrid binder too!
Just be mindful of the page sizes when adding new pages, as Happy Planners come in many different sizes beyond your usual A4, A5, and US Letter.
They’re also pretty specific when it comes to binding holes, covers, and rings, so you may need special tools and find they are not something you can grab easily locally.
Most likely, you’ll need to invest in some resources from their website TheHappyPlanner.com or find some alternative supplies online to DIY it yourself.
Digital journal or note-taking app
For some keeping a paper journal just doesn’t work for them, and vice versa for others.
The good news is that nowadays, there are a variety of digital journals and note-taking apps to choose from, depending on how tech-savvy you are.
If you prefer to go the digital route, try:
- Evernote – a great all-in-one notebook app with basic journaling features
- Google Docs – useful for solely writing. Create different documents for different areas in your life and easily access them anywhere
- Notion – a combination of Wikipedia, Evernote, and Trello all in one. It’s great for getting organized with tables while still being able to write.
- Notability & GoodNotes – an app designed mostly for tablets. Great for making digital notes with a variety of drawing and font styles
- INKredible, Noteshelf & Supernotes – similar to Notability and GoodNotes but for more than just Apple systems.
- OneNote – great for organizing and writing like a digital version of a binder.
Binder or Folder
If you prefer the physical feel of paper and the flexibility to move pages around with lots of durability, then a binder or folder can be beneficial for organizing your journaling.
Unlike discs you might see with a Happy Planner or other forms of binding that require special tools, binders are a lot more common and easier to find in local stores. All you need to do is add paper and get journaling.
Look for your favorite binder designs on places like amazon.com or any local store that stocks stationery.
Did you know you can get all sorts of journal pages online that you can download and print at home?
From weekly planners, daily reflections, and gratitude journals to page dividers and tools for organization.
Our shop has an array of printables available, including things like journal prompts to help you get started with writing more easily.
Some popular options are:
- Gratitude journal pages
- Shadow Work journal pages
- Daily reflection pages
- Page dividers and planner pages
- Journal and binder tabs
Voice recorder or dictation
If you’re not a fan of writing, typing, or being creative, then recording your thoughts and feelings is just as powerful. Whether that be via voice recorder or dictation apps on your phone.
You don’t necessarily have to record everything but having the option makes it easier to capture how you’re feeling in the moment.
This can be especially useful if you find it difficult to make time to sit down and journal because of your busy schedule. (Think of it like a digital audio journal!)
Some useful apps for this are:
Finally, let us not forget how planners can come in handy for journaling.
Planners are great for keeping track of your day-to-day activities, tasks, and goals, but also note how you feel at the end of each day.
You can easily jot down how you’re feeling, things that made you happy, reflections on how you handled certain tasks, and how you can improve for the next day. After all, journaling doesn’t have to be an essay!
Take a look at some of these versatile planners that are perfect for combing planning with journaling even if you’re still a beginner:
- The Life Planner
- The Daily Planner
- Bullet Journal printable layouts
- Or some other printable planners from our shop
3. Gather Your Journaling Supplies
Beyond your notebook, journal, or digital note-taking app, the next step in this how to journal for beginners guide is to gather the necessary supplies. For most types of journaling, all you need is a pen and some paper.
But if you prefer something a bit more organized or creative, there are plenty of other tools you can use. These are optional, so focus on what you want to add or what makes things most fun for you.
Some ideas include:
4. Find A Schedule That Works For You
Next up; you should spend some time finding a journaling schedule that works for you. This could be daily, weekly, or even monthly.
If you’re just starting out, it’s best to:
- Start small and simple (like journaling for 10-15mins)
- Build up the frequency of your journaling over time (like a couple of times per week)
- Set aside some dedicated time (try using an alarm to remind you or adding it to your morning routine)
- Experiment with morning, evening, and even midday sessions
- Try journaling in different places to find your favorite spot
5. Set Your Journaling Goals & Expectations
Once you’ve chosen a type of journal and an idea of when you want to schedule your journaling sessions. It’s time to set some goals and expectations.
This is important because it can help keep you motivated, focused, and accountable when it comes to your journaling practice.
Some examples of goals could include:
- Write in my journal 3 times a week
- Capture how I’m feeling or how the day went each evening before bedtime
- Document 1 positive thing that happened every day and how I can build on it
- Spend 15 minutes each morning writing how grateful I am for the day ahead
- Answer one journal prompt as fully as I can in one journaling session
- Do a stream-of-consciousness or brain dumping session at least once per week
6. How To Decide What To Write In Your Journal
Wondering, “What should I write in my journal daily?”
Some days it may feel like there’s too much going on to even know where to start when it comes to journaling or writing.
After all, your brain actually needs space to think, right?
On other days it may feel like there’s nothing worth writing about at all.
Maybe that’s why you’ve been putting off starting a journal – it seems like too much work. But the truth is, journaling can be incredibly therapeutic, even if all you write is “I don’t know what to write.”
Just getting your thoughts down on paper (or in a digital document) can help you to organize your thoughts and feelings and can provide a sense of calm.
Don’t worry about whether or not your journal entries are interesting or significant – just write. Write about your day, your worries, hopes, and dreams.
Write about the things that make you happy and the things that make you angry.
Just let it all out and see what comes out in the process. You might be surprised at how therapeutic it can be.
And if you still find it difficult to find something to journal about, I’ll let you in on a secret…
I strongly recommend checking out some journaling prompts. They are a complete game-changer when it comes to getting the writing juices going.
You could try these:
- 69 Smart Journal Prompts For Goal Setting To Kick Start Your Plans In 2023
- 113 Journal Prompts For Beginners + 5 Types To Explore On Your Journey
- 57 Daily Gratitude Journal Prompts For Thought-Provoking Inspiration
- 60 Deep Shadow Work Journal Prompts For Healing & Growth + Free Printable
How To Journal For Beginners: Start Your Journey Today!
There are endless benefits to incorporating journaling into your life—but getting started can feel daunting if you’ve never done it before. Use this how to journal for beginners guide as your roadmap and get started with your very first journal pages!
Remember to find the right type of journaling format that works for you, and don’t be afraid to experiment and change things up in your routine.
Set realistic goals and expectations for how often you want to journal, but don’t forget to be kind to yourself and have fun.
And if ever you feel stuck on what to write, check out some journaling prompts for inspiration.
Good luck on your journaling journey!