My Beginner’s Guide to Journaling

Have you ever decided you wanted to start journaling, so you picked up a new notebook, wrote down the events of your day, and then never picked up that journal again?

I’ve been there.

I think the reason that a lot of people give up journaling after a few days is because they have a lot of expectations going into it, and those expectations aren’t met from the start. That was certainly the case for me a few years ago. I kept hearing so many successful people talking about how journaling was life changing for them, but I wasn’t seeing those same results. At least not at first.

I finally became much more consistent with my journaling habit over the last year, and I can now see that it is a really powerful tool. But before you begin, you have to let go of all of our thoughts and expectations about it. Just go in with a clear and open mind.

What do you need to get started?

Any notebook will do. My recommendation? Get something that you like, but that isn’t too expensive. You want to be excited to go back and write everyday, so a notebook that is pleasing to you is important. However, you don’t want to feel any pressure when you start, or feel afraid to mess it up.

Of course, you’ll also need a writing instrument. Over the years, I have tried many different pens, pencils, markers—you name it. I like to stick to plain black ink using my favorite pen (I use Paper Mate InkJoy gel pens), but it really is up to you decide what you like!

Now what?

Now you write! I know you may be thinking, but what do I write about? That’s the beauty of journaling. There really is no right answer.

Some days, I finish watching a really interesting movie or reading a book that made me think about life in a new perspective, so I write out those thoughts.

Other days, something happens in the news that shakes me to my core, so I write down my opinions on it.

Or, I had a really great day, so I simply recount the events that happened, and explain how I felt.

Some days I create lists of things I want to try, habits I want to form, goals I have for the next month!

If you’re really struggling to think of something to write one day, don’t force it! Some people like to use prompts to get their writing going, but I’m not usually a huge fan of using prompts because I feel like journaling should be very organic and you should write what’s on your mind. Usually that will tell you more about what’s going on in your head in my opinion! BUT– if you like them & they work for you, by all means go for it! If I have nothing to write about, I just won’t write that day.

I think the thing that trips people up is that they believe they have to write everyday in order for journaling to be effective.

The real secret is consistency over the long term.

You can miss a day or two, but I would avoid missing more than two days. Try writing every other day, or fitting it into your schedule 4 days a week. And keep up with it for more than a week or two! Try to commit to a whole month to really let it become a habit.

I don’t even think about it anymore, journaling has just become part of my routine.

I’ve also started to think about things I want to write about during the day. If a thought pops up that I’d like to explore, I usually jot it down on a post it note or on my phone so that I can remember to write about it when I go to journal!

Final Thoughts

This is obviously not a very comprehensive guide. It’s simply the basics. But I really want to emphasize that there are no rules when it comes to journaling. You can make it whatever you’d like, just find what works for you.

You are officially ready to go off and explore your own mind! Good luck on your journey, you got this!

Do you journal already? Have you ever journaled before? What are your thoughts on it?

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