How to start to write a journal
Journaling is a great tool for self-reflection and self-care. When contemplating how to start to write a journal it can seem daunting if you haven’t journaled regularly or written regularly in the past. However, learning how to write a journal isn’t as complicated as it might seem.
It is important to remember that journaling is a tool that helps you process your thoughts, brings clarity to your emotions, and helps you monitor your thinking patterns or behaviour. So when you think about how to start to write a journal, think more in terms of it being a dialogue with yourself, rather than a play for others to watch.
It’s not a performance, you aren’t journaling for someone else’s benefit, only your own.
However, you may want or need a structure to help you start your journaling, especially if you are unused to writing your thoughts on a regular basis.
So here are 7 aids to help kick start your journaling habit plus a table of contents to help you navigate the blog post.
- How to start to write a journal
- 7 prompts to help you write in your journal
- 1. Choose your journal
- 2. Use a timer to just help you get going
- 3. Date your entries before starting
- 4. Start journaling
- 5. Put your journal in a place where it can’t be seen
- 6. Read and reflect on what you have written
- 7. Once you have started, don’t stop!
- Other Journal Prompts for journaling
7 prompts to help you write in your journal
1. Choose your journal
Choose a journal that you will look forward to writing in each day. Some people like to journal on individual sheets of paper and then add those sheets to a file or binder. Other people like to choose a beautiful notebook. You can choose a journal that is dated or undated. Undated journals probably give you a bit more mental freedom. If you miss a day you’re less likely to feel bad.
2. Use a timer to just help you get going
- A timer will help force you to get your thoughts out because you only have a limited amount of time to write.
- Stop writing when the timer is up. Reread what you have written, either immediately or later in the day. Journaling is a reflective act, so take the time to reread what you have written and understand yourself.
- 20 minutes is a good amount of time to set on the timer.
- nb I don’t personally like the idea of using a timer as I feel that your journaling should be free flowing. But if you haven’t journaled before and don’t know how to get started then the timer can be a great forcing function.
3. Date your entries before starting
Having a date will give you an historic record and allow you to go back and reflect on the past. I have found this so useful that I now date everything. I love to compare how I felt then with how I feel now and I love the sense of time passing but at the same time standing still.
4. Start journaling
- Just start, don’t worry about spelling, punctuation. You also don’t have to start at the top of the page, you can start anywhere you like.
- Journal as quickly as you can, the important factor is that you get your thoughts on paper, not that your grammar is top notch and your spelling perfect
- This isn’t a competition, it’s a journey of discovery for yourself. Just try and enjoy yourself.
5. Put your journal in a place where it can’t be seen
Don’t leave your journal lying about. It is your private world, a place where you are totally safe and where you create safety for yourself.
6. Read and reflect on what you have written
- Reading through your entry after you have finished writing helps you to process your thoughts and feelings.
- If you have trouble being consistent or remembering things from day to day, rereading your journal each day can help you anchor in the day.
7. Once you have started, don’t stop!
- Writing regularly helps build that habit.
- Journaling enables your mind to process thoughts and emotions in a healthy way and those health-giving attributes are so beneficial to our brains and our bodies.
I know staring at the first blank page can be intimidating. I suggest scribbling first to break the ice, or something as simple as writing the date at the top of the page.
Other Journal Prompts for journaling
If you want to start journaling pick a topic that is personal to you. Write down 3 or 4 aspects of that topic that you can write about and then, one by one, write about them. I’ll give you some examples below.
We have various journal prompts that can help trigger your creativity and brain thoughts. For example:
Daily journal prompts
Prompt examples could be:
How I feel today;
What appointments I have today and how I feel about them;
Something that you want to track or monitor each day eg daily outfit comment, daily comments about a work situation
Mental Health journal prompts
Prompt examples could be:
Why am I anxious?;
List 3 good things about today;
List 3 things you are grateful for today;
Write about a problem that is currently worrying you. Ask yourself, in 5 years time when this problem no longer worries me, how will you wish you had thought about it and dealt with it? Also check out our blog post on 16 prompts to help you create personal mental health journal ideas of your own.
Art/Craft journal prompts
If you would like to be more creative, pick up your art practice from years ago or just always liked the idea of being more creative on paper then an art/craft journal may be the perfect journal for you.
When you are faced with a blank white piece of paper staring at you expectantly, the enthusiasm you once had for this idea may start to fade away. Don’t be dissuaded, however. All you need is a little prompting to kick start your creative juices for example
Have an idea of what you want to create before you create it. You could keep a list of ideas you may like to try. Then when inspiration does not strike, as it doesn’t, you can pull out your list and use that as inspiration. Top tip, just pick one and get going. If after getting going you still don’t feel inspired then, by all means, change your theme. However the getting going will often be enough to help you continue through to the end;
Starting small is fine. If you don’t have an idea that will fill the entirety of the page it doesn’t matter. Create what you are thinking about, don’t think in terms of filling the space.
We hope you have enjoyed this post. For more posts on getting started with your journaling practice why not read: