I’m often asked by readers and friends, “How do I start journaling?” As a storyteller who has experienced every twist and turn life can offer, I have spent years chronicling my experiences privately in my journal and publicly on this website. I have found solace, joy, and acceptance upon the blank pages of my journals and consider it the best form of therapy. Journaling has been my constant companion through calm waters and chaotic storms.
My passion for journaling was ignited when I was challenged to journal daily for three months to find my authentic voice. From there, honeygood.com was born, and I published my interactive keepsake journal, “Stories for My Grandchild: A Grandmother’s Journal,” where grandmothers can document their intimate stories and values for posterity.
I believe every person can benefit from a journaling practice as it builds a relationship within, helps shed light on things happening in your life, and chronicles your most important insights.
Before we jump into “how to start journaling.” I want to establish “Why” you should start journaling.
Why Journaling is an Essential Practice
Dear reader, I am not the only one with a love affair with journaling. In fact, journaling has been extensively studied. Time-and-time-again, research reveals many positive impacts including happiness, goal attainment, and even physical health. Darlings, did you know something as simple as keeping a gratitude journal can improve your mood?
For your mental health, journaling helps you to not bottle up negative emotions. If you journal in the morning you might notice you have a more productive and less stressful day. Writing helps our brain feel clear and organized.
That might not shock you, but did you know journaling can help healing physical wounds (and wounds of the heart, too) A 2013 study in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found that a specific type of journaling, expressive writing, may help in healing physical wounds in adults aged 64 to 97.
“Expressive Writing” involves writing continuously for 20 minutes about your deepest thoughts and emotions around a life issue. If you try this method, make sure that over time you move from expressing emotions to making observations, and setting goals.
Who is Journaling For?
Darlings, let me tell you, journaling is an inclusive art form offering endless gifts for any person who chooses to do it regardless of age, background, gender, or lifestyle. I have found that avid journal aficionados fall under one of these five journaling personalities (and usually more than one).
- The Introspective This writer loves to ponder, and journaling offers a sanctuary to explore her deepest thoughts and emotions. Her journal is a space where quiet contemplation morphs into revelation.
- The ArtisanThis writer is a soul brimming with creativity. She finds solace and expression in the pages of her journal, but for her, journaling is not just writing; it’s an artistic adventure. Her words are amplified with sketches, paint, and collages.
- The ArchitectMethodical and organized, The Architect approaches her journal with precision! Goals are plotted, progress is tracked, and thoughts are structured. In her hands, journaling becomes an instrument of order and clarity. A useful tool to guide her through life.
- The HealerThis writer turns to her journal as a source of comfort and therapy and her entries are pathways to healing. Journaling is a her ally in processing emotions and working through challenges. The healer uses her journal to fall in love with her inner self.
- The ChroniclerEveryone has a story to tell, and this writer uses her journal to document the extraordinary and the mundane parts of her singular tale. The Chronicler is the keeper of stories and protector of legacies.
If you are interested in chronicling your unique story, I recommend ordering my special journal to document your life wisdom for your posterity.
Get Started: What You Need To Start Journaling
While journaling requires very little in terms of physical materials, choosing the right tools and setting the tone with the right environment can help you stick to the task and make it extra delightful.
Choosing the Right Journal
There are many types of journals available. They come in all different sizes and price points. You can choose a beautiful journal that sparks joy, or keep it simple with a lined notebook. Some girlfriends of mine prefer a notebook with blank pages where more artistic journaling can unfurl. I’ve shared some of my favorite journals here.
Maybe you are drawn to journaling digitally. You can create a folder on your computer and write your journal on a word processor like Microsoft Word or Google Docs.
There are also digital tools to journal that mimic the feeling of writing on paper. The Supernote and Remarkable are two examples of digital notebooks. Instead of using a keyboard to write your digital journal, you use special stylus that feels like a ball-point pen.
Pens or Pencils?
Either are fine and both have their benefits and drawbacks. I enjoy using a pen to ensure the lead of a pencil doesn’t smudge. Test different pens and pencils to find one that glides smoothly and makes writing enjoyable. You may also consider colored pens, markers, or highlighters for a more vibrant and artistic look.
How to Create an Inspiring Journaling Space
Sure, you can pull out your notebook and favorite pen and journal anywhere. I certainly have! But it can really help you keep the journaling habit if you have a space that is set up and ready for you. Think about your home, where do you feel inspiration? Where can you relax?
Sometimes, the space is less important than the atmosphere. I know that sitting at a quiet kitchen table first thing in the morning can be very inspiring. You can help create a great journaling atmosphere by incorporating a special a ritual, like brewing a cup of tea or coffee, lighting a candle, or playing a particular playlist. This can help signal to your brain that it’s time to write.
When you wonder how to start journaling, don’t let the space throw you off. You truly can write in a journal from anywhere in the world, on airplanes, on park benches, at a cafe, or even in waiting rooms.
Now that you have your space, your journal, and a great pen, it’s time to get started.
Is There Only One Way to Journal?
Journaling can be as simple as writing about your day, but there are many popular styles of journaling you could try for yourself. Who knows? Maybe you’ll fall in love with one of these alternative journaling techniques.
This technique is pretty self explanatory. Simply write down things you are thankful for on a daily basis. This helps shift your focus from what you are lacking to the abundance in your life. To get started with this method of journaling follow this guide:
- Choose a specific time each day to write in your gratitude journal (reflecting in the evening is the ideal time to do a gratitude journal entry!)
- Write down three to five things you’re grateful for each day. These can range from significant experiences to the simplest joys – a sunny day, a kind gesture from a stranger, etc.
- Occasionally, choose one item from your list and expand on it. Why is it meaningful to you?
If you like a little flair and a lot of organization, bullet journaling might be for you. Bullet journaling integrates planning, tracking, and reflecting with doodles, lists, colors, and of course, bullet points!
- Start with a simple layout that includes a monthly overview, weekly spreads, and space for daily entries. Use bullet points to organize tasks, events, and notes.
- Add sections that are specific to your growth, such as habit trackers, goal-setting pages, and especially, reflection areas.
- At the end of every month, review your journal. What’s working and what’s not?
Some women are drawn to visual arts and find solace in art journaling over the written word. For these women, I recommend a sketch journal with unlined pages.
- Collect materials that can convey your inspiration – colored pencils, watercolors, markers, even magazines for collages.
- Start with a theme or emotion for your page. It could be based on your current mood, a memorable event, or a goal you are working on.
- Let your creative side come out! Combine words, sketches, paintings, and collages to express your thoughts and feelings.
Have you ever had a dream that felt important somehow? Dreams can be mysterious, symbolic, and sometimes prophetic! But It is hard to hold on to dreams after we wake up. Dream journaling involves recording your dreams immediately upon waking so you can explore recurring themes and unravel your inner fears and desires.
- Place your journal and a pen next to your bed so you can jot down dreams the moment you wake up, when they’re still fresh in your mind. Don’t wait to write. Trust me. Those dreams begin to fade within seconds!
- Write down everything you remember about your dreams, including details like colors, emotions, people, places, and conversations.
- This is the most important part! Once a month, review your dream entries and look for patterns. Think about how your dreams might relate to your waking life or inner self.
How to Start a Journaling Habit with Journal Prompts
If you are interested in taking on classic journaling, but feel overwhelmed or worry about filling a blank page, you might want to consider using journal prompts to spark your writing. Journal prompts provide a starting point and direct your thoughts. They are like conversation starters! Good journal prompts range from simple to profound. Its fun to see how the simplest question can bring about highly emotional memories and stories. Once you get the journaling bug, you may not need journal prompts for inspiration. But while you are establishing a routine, journal prompts can be incredibly helpful! They act as a friendly nudge to pick up your pen and write down your feelings.
Downloadable Journal Prompts For You!
I’ve created a special set of printable journal prompts just for you. There are enough journal prompts to last you an entire year. The questions are inspired by my vast experiences as I’ve earned my PhD in life! I know they will spark your creativity and stir your emotions. Darling, I hope you download these Free, printable journal prompts and use them as a starting point for your journaling practice. I recommend printing them on lovely colored paper, cutting them out, and then putting them in a beautiful jar. Draw one each day as you sit down to write.
How to Start Journaling With Intention in 3 Steps
Embrace Your Intentions with Grace
Darling, you need to understand the reason why you want to start journaling! Your reason makes journaling matter. Is it to help manage stress? Are you interested in passing down wisdom to your posterity? Are you seeking your authentic voice like I did? Contemplate what you desire to achieve with your journal. There is no wrong answer, and there is no wrong way to journal. There’s no need for perfection.
Craft a Joyful Journaling Ritual
Having a ritual can turn journaling into your favorite activity. Choose a time that sings to your soul. Whether you journal a few times a week or daily, your journaling practice should be a source of excitement, not an obligation.
Don’t Fear the Blank Page
Start with whatever is in your heart. It can be as simple as “Today, I am grateful for…” or “Right now, I feel…”
To spark your journaling prowess, I recommend using journal prompts. You can download a set of printable journal prompts here.
Write what you feel, no one is going to give you a grade on your writing ability! Your journal is a judgment-free zone.
Darling, Embrace Your Inner Writer
Now that you have clear action steps to start keeping a journal, what’s stopping you? Choose a journal that brings you joy and makes you excited to write. Pick a journaling style that matches your unique personality, needs, and purpose for journaling. Will you stick with one style or try a few? Identify where and when you will write then print your journal prompts to eliminate any potential writer’s block.
Dear reader, you are ready to write.
Will You Accept This Challenge?
I encourage you, no matter which journaling personality you resonate with – The Introspective, The Artisan, The Architect, The Healer, or The Chronicler – to start writing in your journal. Begin with just five minutes a day for the next week. Write about anything that comes to mind, use a prompt, sketch a scene from your day, note down what you’re grateful for, or jot down a goal and the steps you’ll take to achieve it.
Will you accept my challenge? If you do, I can promise that your thoughts and feelings will evolve, your relationship with yourself will find new depths, and your creativity will flourish.
So, pick up your pen, open your journal, and let the words flow. Happy journaling, darlings!
What styles of journaling have you tried? What works best for you? Let’s discuss in the comments!
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